VanDam, the 2009 Bass Angler of the Year, won the Bassmasters Classic on Alabama's Lay Lake by 5 pounds after posting the biggest weight on Sunday's third and final day of competition.
"I knew the creek would warm-up with the weather, and when it did I knew the bass would turn-on," he said. "I was fishing a Red Eye Shad in the gold color and the Sexy Shad color. The bait would fall and swim down toward the bottom. As it hung-up on grass and stumps, I would jerk it off. That's when the bass would attack."
VanDam, who also had the biggest first-day weight, had his 5-fish limit by 9:30 a.m. and wound up with 19 pounds, seven ounces, for a 3-day total of 51-6. His third Classic win was worth $500,000.
Oklahoma's Jeff Kriet, the second-round leader, managed a 14-5 limit on Sunday and finished second with 46-6, winning $45,000. Texan Todd Faircloth finished third with 44-3 after a 12-5 final round, winning $40,000.
Rounding uout the top five were Alabama's Russ Lane at 43-12 for fourth and $30,000 and Brent Chapman of Kansas with 37-14 for $25,000 and fifth place.
Lane had an 18-1 bag on Sunday, including the day's big fish a 6-2 lunker.
Louisina's Cliff Crochet finished 13th after going into the day in the top 10. He won $14,250 for his efforts.