Fortunately for him, no one did, and Lane won by a pound and three ounces, but that was only part of his dramatic win. In this tournament, the fishing day was divided into three 2 ½-hour periods, and at the beginning of the final period, he sat 11 pounds behind the leader.
“This is a catch-as-many-as-you-can event,” says Lane, “and I noticed the leaders had begun to slow down. That told me the bass were changing, and that I had to figure out what they were doing because I had only caught two bass in each of the first two periods. The water had risen three feet during the tournament and was also getting warmer, and when that happens this time of year, bass move shallow, so I did, too.
“From the first day of competition I’d been catching my fish on a crankbait, but I changed to a flipping stick and a ½-ounce jig, and started fishing shallow rocks, brush, and boathouses. I caught a 3-11 doing that, and two minutes later I caught a 6-3, and then a 2-1.”
With only three to four minutes remaining in the tournament, another bass in just a foot of water hit his jig and the Yamaha Pro swung it on board to be weighed. In this event, only bass weighing two-pounds or more could be counted, and if this one weighed that much, Lane would move into the lead and possibly win the biggest tournament of his career.
“The fish definitely looked like a two-pounder to me,” Lane remembers vividly, “especially since I’d just caught the 2-1, but when my observer and I weighed it, the scale settled immediately on 1-15. The needle never moved, which is a little unusual.
“We weighed it a second time, and the scale went straight to 1-15 again. We’re allowed to weigh any fish we catch three separate times, and on our third time the scale went to 2-1, then locked in at 2-pounds, which made it legal.”
That gave Lane a total for the day of 10 bass weighing 29-14, but two minutes and 12 seconds of legal fishing time remained, during which he had to hope and pray no one else caught a fish large enough to beat him, and yes, they were two of the longest, most nervous two minutes Lane ever remembers. He’s had two runner-up finishes in the Bassmaster Classic® and stepped close to the winner’s circle in numerous other events, but this time the championship trophy was handed to him.
Lane has more than 40 years of experience learning bass behavior. A Florida native, the Yamaha Pro grew up fishing two of the most storied lakes in America, Lake Kissimmee and Rodman Reservoir. Sharing boat time with his grandfather, father, and two brothers, he started out primarily as a topwater fisherman, then gradually added plastic worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs. He and his brother, Arnie, would strap a johnboat to the top of their car when they went to school so they could go fishing after classes.
Now as a fulltime professional angler, the Yamaha Pro has won tournaments at every level of the sport. None of it, however, truly prepared him for those final two minutes and 12 seconds in the Redcrest Championship.
When Bass Will Move Shallow
“If there is a lesson other fishermen might take away from this,” notes Lane, “it would be to remember how the conditions changed to cause those bass to relocate. It happens when bass are preparing to spawn. If the water rises and is getting warmer at the same time, the bass will always move to extremely shallow cover.
“On Grand Lake where we were fishing, the water temperature rose from 50 to 53 degrees. That’s all it took to make the bass move. They did not go to spawning beds, only to shallow water closer to where they would be spawning in the weeks ahead.”
Back to Blue Life