Confidence and Maturity Propel Lane
Two of the most important characteristics of successful tournament anglers are; having confidence in their decisions, techniques and skills at all times, and the maturity to make tough decisions under pressure. There’s no secret bait, piece of gear or GPS waypoint that will have a greater chance than these immeasurables at giving an angler more weight come weigh-in time.
Over the last couple years, Legend Pro Chris Lane has become an example of both of those characteristics and proof of that came this February, when Lane hoisted the biggest trophy of them all. You don’t win the classic without having supreme confidence and making some great, mature decisions along the way.
Lane once again showed his confidence and maturity October 4-6th at the season finale Bassmaster Southern Open on Alabama’s Smith Lake. He demonstrated the confidence by fishing in a manner that isn’t usually his favorite and the maturity by staying disciplined while not getting many bites. He parlayed those traits, along with some chunky spotted bass into a three day total of 29-11; good enough for a 10th place finish.
When it comes to favorite tournament tactics, Lane likes to keep it pretty simple. Being from Florida, he loves to flip, frog and power-fish in shallow water, especially when there’s grass around. Smith Lake is different though. Renowned for its giant spotted bass, and harboring some incredibly deep water and steep banks, there isn’t as much opportunity for a shallow water power-fisherman to succeed on Smith.
That didn’t prevent Lane from looking up shallow once practice started, saying “I spent the better part of the first day up there, and didn’t get anything but small fish, so I bailed on that and tried to find a way to catch those better than average spots.” In years past, Lane admitted that he may have kept himself in his shallow water comfort zone, but now that he thinks like a champion, it wasn’t hard for him to make the call to look for something that would help him compete for the win.
“Smith Lake is a good lake, and it has some absolutely giant spots in it, but it can also be a pretty tough nut to crack. It’s also a place where you really have to fish hard and put in your work to do well in tournaments.” That knowledge helped Lane as he searched for a viable pattern amongst the deep, clear water of the Alabama impoundment.
After moving out of shallow water in practice, Lane began to figure out a decent pattern throwing a Luck E Strike Jerkbait to bluff walls, points and steep breaks targeting suspended fish. He then caught an absolute giant using the technique on the second day of practice that told him he was doing the right thing for the tournament. “Once I saw that there was that kind of quality around, I was pretty much committed to doing it the rest of the event.”
He wasn’t getting a lot of bites, but the ones he was getting were better than average and in a tough tournament, the right fish make all the difference. “It can be difficult at times to know that you could get a lot more bites potentially doing something else, but we fish these events to win them, and a 6lb limit doesn’t do you any good. I was specifically targeting those bigger, suspended fish because they gave me the best chance to win.”
Lane’s pattern worked well the first two days of the tournament, and he entered the weekend in 7th place. He ended up 10th on the back of a 7lb sack of fish the last day that was one short of a limit, a price often paid when fishing for suspended fish as they can often be tough to catch and even tougher to land.
About the result, Lane was pretty content, saying “I was able to find myself a reliable way to get better than average bites on a lake that was fishing pretty tough. In fact, I had a chance or two at a bag that would have definitely kept me in the mix but it didn’t end up working out.”
Lane was fishing the Jerkbait on the deep breaklines, bluff walls and points that Smith Lake is famous for, catching all 14 of his weigh-in fish on the bait. “I would sometimes have that Legend boat sitting out in like 180 feet of water, but be casting up into 4 feet and then work it out off the edge. The spots would just suspend over or off the structure and come up and get it.”
He was fishing the RCX Jerkbait in a shad pattern, and throwing it on a 7’2” All Star Big Crankin’ stick paired with an Abu Garcia Revo Winch. He fished the bait on 10lb Stren Fluorocarbon and though he experimented with different cadences, he couldn’t find one in particular that seemed to catch them any better.
When you’re on, you’re on, and that statement couldn’t have been truer for the season that Lane had. Finishing in the top 10 on a tough lake in the fall is just what the doctor ordered for Chris as he heads into the slow season of tournament fishing and gets ready to defend his title at Grand Lake in February.