FLORENCE, Ala. — Bobby Lane may not have won the Alabama Charge, finishing second to Davy Hite, but he beat his nemesis: Pickwick Lake.
Throughout his career, Lane had failed to place in the money even once on Pickwick, including last year where he missed the cut in 66th place. Coming into the event, the first thing on his mind was breaking that barrier and making the top-50.
"This was a tournament I came into knowing I've never made a check here before," Lane said. "I left Florida with a bad taste in my mouth. Last time we left Florida, I was leading the points. This year, I'm in the middle of a pack thanks to a bomb on the Harris Chain."
His uncharacteristic 93rd place on waters close to home happened because of boat trouble on the morning of Day One. Lane had found the winning fish, the area where Grigsby and Goldbeck dominated the rest of the field, but couldn't get there.
A top-20 finish at the next event in Palatka helped, but he was still a long way from making the Classic, in 54th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. At that point, he decided to just go out and have fun at Pickwick, fishing to his strengths, and it worked.
"This tournament ended up being so much fun because I learned a lot and felt great about my fishing," Lane said. "I had a limit within 30 minutes most days and fished a good, clean tournament. Davy earned this one for sure. He won by 8 pounds, so overall I'm happy."
Part of the reason fishing was so enjoyable for Lane was because he spent much of the tournament with a frog in his hand. When he went back into a pocket early in the competition and had three good-sized keepers blow up on his amphibious topwater in short order, things started to click.
"This week wasn't the best time to throw a frog, but I bet you could win a tournament on it the next few weeks," Lane said. "I went into a pocket I had found the first day of practice and it was overcast, so I tried that frog. I missed a 2-pounder, caught a 2-pounder and then on the next cast, bombed my bait all the way in the back of that flooded cover and caught a 4-pounder."
From there, Lane tried to get his frog as far back over and under limbs as he could. He ended up dragging two 4-pounders over limbs that day, looking for areas that were a little different from what his competitors fished.
Lane spooled up his Abu Garcia Revo SX casting reel with Spiderwire Ultracast braided line on All Star rods for fighting those big fish through the heavy cover.
"Whether it was a hole or log, I think guys were overlooking those little things," Lane said. "There were a lot of guys fishing around me. One spot was the second-biggest community hole on the lake. If I could have had those two or three areas to myself, I could have brought in 20 to 22 pounds a day."
Ultimately, the tournament was won from the tailrace of the Wilson Dam, but Lane had no regrets about not fishing there.
"I'm not a very good current angler," Lane said. "So I told myself that I would never go to the tailrace this week. After this tournament, I promise I will never go to the tailrace again."