RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — When the telephone rings at 2 a.m., it's never good news. But Chris Lane's news went from bad to worse hours before the Day 1 takeoff for the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Dardanelle.
"I got a phone call at 2:02," said Lane, who was staying at the Super 8 motel here. "They told me I needed to move my boat because there was a boat on fire in the parking lot."
Shortly after Lane stepped outside his room, he saw fellow Elite Series anglers Todd Faircloth and Jeff Kriet.
"They said, 'It's your boat,'" Lane recalled.
The Russellville Fire Department was attempting to put out the fire when Lane arrived on the scene. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
"The boat is a total loss," Lane said. "There's no reason to tow it home. I went back to my room, sat on the bed and drank two cups of coffee, just thinking about what I was going to do."
There is a bright side to this story. Lane was overwhelmed by the support from his fellow anglers.
"Todd Faircloth said, if it's (within the rules), I could fish with him today," Lane said.
But Lane will be fishing in a custom-wrapped boat today. It's a boat Fred Roumbanis previously owned. Jodie Haralson, who is Kevin VanDam's marshal today, now owns the boat and offered to let Lane use it.
"It's even got Fred's old wrap on it," Lane said.
Prior to today's 6:15 a.m. takeoff at Lake Dardanelle State Park, Lane was clearly still in a daze about what had happened in the previous four hours. One thing he won't have to worry about is this incident hurting his chances to qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Lane is already qualified thanks to his win on the St. Johns River in the second tournament of the season.
"I feel blessed that I've already made the Classic," he said. "All the guys have been great. They've offered me tackle, equipment, you name it. They've been willing to do anything to help.
"That's the kind of people we deal with. Fishermen are good people."