Lane Looks Ahead to Classic and Beyond
By TJ Maglio
Momentum is an often overlooked component to the competitive fishing industry. Frequently, we see an angler string together high finishes and it seems that confidence built inone tournament can propel an angler to better finishes in subsequent events. Elite Series Pro Chris Lane is currently riding such a wave and I was able to catch up with him while he was driving to Shreveport, Louisiana to compete in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic and talk a little about the Classic as well as the upcoming Elite Series season.
2011 was Lane’s best year yet on the Elite Series, finishing 11th in the AOY standings and making three final day appearances. He continued to ride that momentum wave into 2012, winning the first BASS Southern Open on the Harris Chain in January, and just last week took a nice check in the FLW Open on Okeechobee. The win on the Harris Chain was especially nice, as 2012 BASS rules award a Bassmaster Classic berth to the individual winners of each BASS Open event (as long as he fishes all three events in the division). This means that Chris, who had before this year only qualified for the league’s premier event once, will fish consecutive Classics for the first time.
The Mother of all Tournaments
Chris qualified for the 2008 Classic at Lake Hartwell and didn’t exactly knock their lights out, finishing a disappointing 49th in the 50 boat field. Part of that finish he attributes to the extremely tough weather and an unfamiliar lake that didn’t really set up well for his fishing style, but the poor showing in that event has only made him more excited about his second trip to the Classic. “I definitely know what this event means, and I am excited to even have a chance to compete in an event like this” he mentions without hesitation.
Even though the Red River is an unfamiliar body of water to him, Chris has a lot of confidence going into the tournament due to the way the Red sets up, explaining “it’s got a lot of shallow water, stumps and lily pads, which all gel really well with my style of fishing”. In fact, Chris expects to apply a pretty basic approach once the official practice starts by sticking to the “river rat standards” like square-bills, flipping plastics like the Gambler B.B. Cricket and Otter, as well as a frog or toad if the conditions set up for it.
About his tournament strategy, Chris points out that “there’s really only first place and everyone else, so you have no reason to play it safe. Nobody remembers who finishes second in this one”. The fact that the Red is a river where long runs can be necessary to reach the productive backwaters, means you can expect Chris to leave all his options open when narrowing down his fishing locations, saying “I plan on letting the fish tell me what they want, then giving it to them!”.
Though the magnitude of this event hasn’t passed him by, Chris has higher expectations this year than in 2008. He is “filled with a burning desire inside to not just compete, but to win on a stage like this”. With a field containing some of the best anglers in the world, a victory would mean a lot to Lane and with his confidence at an all time high, he plans on being in it to the end.
2012 Elites: The Pressure’s off
As mentioned before, Lane’s victory on the Harris Chain has already qualified him for the 2013 Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. “It’s gonna be a pretty neat feeling this year, not
having to worry about making it all year long” he explains.
As to whether being pre-qualified will affect the way he fishes, Lane is not quite certain, mentioning that there are other factors involved than just the Classic. “I am still fishing to feed my family, so getting paid is still going to be a priority and I won’t be able to go for broke at every tournament”. There are however certain things that it will change, like how he approaches the last day of tournaments, saying “in circumstances where I have already made the money cut, I won’t hesitate to make the moves I need to make to try and win or make a top 12, whereas before I may have sat on a spot and played it safe to just catch enough to bump me up in the points”.
About the 2012 Schedule, lane is optimistic about all the lakes, but can’t help but get excited for the season finale on Oneida Lake. “If there’s an AOY title on the line, or the chance to make the postseason, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country to decide it”.
Though some anglers express frustration that the Elite season is front loaded and ends before the leaves start to turn colors, Chris is not one of them. He thinks it is great and that “it means there is a lot more family time at the end of the year”. Family is very important to Chris, and anything that makes his life on the road easier, he supports.
Keeping the Momentum Going
Lane doesn’t want to rest on his laurels this season after having such a successful year in 2011. If anything, his successes have made him even more determined to cement his place as one of the top fishermen in the world. He would love to finish even higher in the AOY points and even potentially win one as an award like that would really establish him as a threat in any tournament.
Look for Chris to keep the momentum going, and if the last 12 months are any indicator, we should see him at the top more often than not this season.