VanDam’s Last Ride and Thrift’s Home Turf Defense – 2023 MLF REDCREST Preview

This week, Humminbird and Minn Kota pros Bryan Thrift, Kevin VanDam, and Ott DeFoe will take to the shores of Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina in search of the 2023 Major League Fishing REDCREST title. With all three anglers chasing their first REDCREST trophy, Thrift enters this event a heavy favorite on his home body of water while VanDam looks to claim one last crown before his tournament fishing retirement.

Home Field Advantage

“I’m certainly excited to be so close to home this year for MLF REDCREST, but this year has been abnormally warm. I was hoping to be much deeper this week staring at my Humminbird MEGA 360 Imaging® and Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging™ combination, ” said Thrift. “And I’m sure I will be doing just that this week, but a little shallower than I had anticipated.”

At this level in professional fishing, fishing your home turf can be a blessing or a curse. It’s almost a fifty-fifty shot on whether an angler will blank or succeed on their home body of water. For Thrift, there’s nothing but confidence as he heads to drop his Minn Kota Ultrex™ in water that is all too familiar.

“I really don’t feel any added pressure this week because with the conditions setting up the way that they are, it’s going to make for a level playing field. There are a lot of patterns and bites that will be in play so I’m going to hope that my home field advantage will help a little bit in that and see where my bite leads me.” added Thrift.

Last Ride & Major Championship Title Chase

Home turf pressure is one thing, but knowing this could be your last championship event of your entire career is another. For VanDam, this is just another event and another tournament to maintain his killer, no-mercy mindset. While the pressure is high, you can bet retirement is the last thing on his mind and his sights are set on one thing – earning his first REDCREST win.

“For me this year it’s all about trying to make the 2024 MLF REDCREST my last Championship Event, not 2023. But for this week, it’s all focus and preparation to try and do my best to win this event,” said VanDam. “Mother nature is throwing us a curveball this week. As always, I will be looking to find fish setting up how I like to catch them and make sure my strategy is dialed in to be able to adjust with those fish as conditions change this week.”

Like Thrift, VanDam knows that MEGA 360 and MEGA Live are going to be key players in staying on top of their fish as conditions change.

“Having that technology helps tremendously. But don’t be fooled, the instincts of the angler are what help steer that technology. For me, MEGA 360 is an integral part of everything that I do. It helps find things that I never would have known were even there and I am sure that will be the case this week on Lake Norman.” added VanDam.

Looking to add another major championship trophy to place perfectly next to his Bassmaster Classic trophy, DeFoe is feeling confident riding into REDCREST week. Changing conditions don’t bother him. Letting his Humminbird LakeMaster® mapping show him where he will be anchoring his Minn Kota Raptors, DeFoe is ready for the challenge.

Each Humminbird and Minn Kota pro has a unique story heading into this 2023 Major League Fishing REDCREST and each is set up to take home the crown.

“This week is going to be a great test of not only our anglers but the entire field. The conditions are going to play an interesting role in this event, but I know our team is best suited to make the right adjustments.” said Field Promotions Manager, Tim Price. “This event is going to be really exciting and I couldn’t be more excited to watch our anglers hit the water. Our entire team at Humminbird and Minn Kota will be glued to the Major League Fishing livestream and rooting for our guys.”

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JOHNSON OUTDOORS FISHING is comprised of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fish finders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

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JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that inspires more people to experience the awe of the great outdoors with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Fishing, Diving and Camping.

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