PALATKA, Fla. — Chris Lane only thought he was excited two years ago when he caught a five-bass limit weighing 31 pounds, 3 ounces in an Elite Series event on Lake Okeechobee. That was his previous best, until Friday.
The Florida native, known for screaming "Pow!" when a big bass hits the scales, went "Pow!" times five Friday at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Johns River. Lane rocketed from 15th place on Day 1 to an 8-pound, 15-ounce lead on Day Two with five bass that weighed a total of 37 pounds, 9 ounces.
"When you get in the zone and get dialed in, you don't want it to end," said Lane. "I got in a hurry yesterday and came in early. I wasn't going to do that today."
Lane, who now lives in Guntersville, Ala., will never replace the memory of winning the Bassmaster Classic in 2012. But he might have created a remembrance close to it on Friday.
As David Walker said, he left the rest of the field thinking, "How in the world is anybody going to chase down Chris Lane?"
Especially when Lane is asked if that performance is repeatable, and he responds, "I think so."
There are two days left in this tournament, so a 9-pound lead is hardly insurmountable. But Lane's fish came from an area he has to himself, unlike the vast spawning flat on the west side of Lake George, where almost half the field has been the last two days.
Alton Jones put the best face on the situation, noting, "I had a nine-pound lead after Day 2 the last time we were here (in 2012) and Edwin Evers won it. Nobody within 15 pounds of Chris should give up yet."
One of those guys within 15 pounds is Mark Davis, who is in fourth place with 44-10, 11-10 behind Lane. And he has found a spot that he's sharing with only two other competitors.
"It's happening out there," said Davis, who had 26-7 Friday. "It's phenomenal if you're around them."
Unlike so many anglers in this field, Lane and Davis aren't sight-fishing. They aren't getting close enough to actually look at the fish they're catching. But they are casting to big female bass that are on spawning beds. Lane landed a 9-12 and an 8-15 Friday. Davis's big bass weighed 9-10.
And those weren't the big bass of the day. Three 10-pounders were caught, including a 10-10 by Greg Hackney that tied Bernie Schultz's fish caught at Lake Seminole last week for big bass honors this season.
Again, Jones provided some perspective: You ain't seen nothing yet.
"I do think the weekend will be better," said Jones, who won here in 2011. "The water came down a little bit. Fishing for me got a lot better today. I caught probably 40 fish (including a 7-2). With the water coming down a couple of inches, we're able to see some fish we haven't been able to see before."
Jones is outside the 15-pound range he mentioned, in eighth place with 39-12. Paul Elias is within that range after weighing 24-14 Friday to put him 11-1 behind Lane and in fifth place.
"I think this tournament is still wide open," Elias said. "If Chris busts another big bag again (Saturday), he might close us out.
"But I know more fish moved into the area where I am today, and I think there are more coming."