Throughout the 2012 season we will be taking a look at the heart of B.A.S.S., from the top pros to the lesser-known hopefuls, from the fans to the people behind the stage. “Why we do it” looks to celebrate the differences in the people of B.A.S.S. and the passion that brings everyone together.
TAVARES, Fla. – Even with a 5-pound lead and a stringer well in excess of 28 pounds in the boat, Chris Lane still didn’t allow himself to think he had won the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on the Harris Chain.
“There was not one ounce of me that said, ‘You won this tournament.”
His success on the final day hinged on dialing up the larger females that had yet to move in and spawn. With the reduced pressure from only 12 anglers on the water, Lane was able to locate a school on the edges of lily pads in Lake Griffin. He used a Luck “E” Strike RC2 crankbait as a search bait and then followed that up with a black Gambler Sweebo worm for fishing slowly down the drop.
“I caught an 8-pounder and another 8-pounder jumped with it, so I knew big fish were there,” Lane said. “I needed that big one. My partner had hooked two big ones and so I needed it. When I put the hammer down and caught that big fish, then followed it up with another 6-pounder, I was just ready to get the monkey off my back.”
When the scales cleared Saturday, Lane won with ease, pummeling the field by over 14 pounds. He did it for his wife and kids, his fans, his sponsors and most importantly, for his dad. It was his dad who introduced him to fishing when he and his brothers were young. It was his dad who paid his entry fee to the first Open he ended up winning in 2006, a victory that kept him in the sport and helped him move to the next level.
“I got a phone call about two weeks ago,” Lane said. “It was a scary deal – he was in the hospital with some issues with his heart. It was an eye opener: some things you care about can be taken away. Spend each day counting all the blessings that you’ve got.”
His dad recovered and was on hand to view his son get his third B.A.S.S. victory, alongside Lane’s wife Holly and their youngest son, four-month-old Coleman. A strong support system is a critical part of his professional tournament lifestyle. Lane knows when he travels, there are people back home he can count on.
“We call them then South Signal Society,” Lane said. “Three or four of my neighbors pull for me more than anything and watch the kids when I’m on the road. I’ve gotten text messages from them saying, ‘You better catch more than you caught today.’ They are hard on me, but it is nice to have someone I trust back home.”
Like his family and neighbors, his sponsors have provided support and given him the tools to succeed.
“Each tool you use as a professional fisherman has a meaning and a success ratio,” Lane said. “My sponsors have stuck with me and I can’t thank them enough.”
So why does Chris Lane do it?
“It’s the highs,” Lane said. “When you catch a big fish or get a check, it is a high like you wouldn’t believe. Look at my partner today. Those are the two biggest fish he’s ever caught and now he’s getting a trophy and a fat check.
“It’s a drive inside of you that is instilled in us as a child.”
It’s that same drive that Lane has been passing on to his kids, especially his eldest, Cal.
“He is a fishing machine,” Lane said. “I take him out every opportunity that I can. Moving to Alabama gave me that opportunity, because I’m right in the middle of everything. I saved about 20 days a year on travel that I can spend at home now.”
Lane offered good advice to those hoping to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career as a professional bass angler:
“You are going to get beat and you are going to have those days,” Lane said. “It’s who you become out of them. When you do this for a living, there are going to be lows. If you don’t put those behind you, you are not going to make it.”
For Lane, the highs are coming around more and more often these days. The struggles early in his career have been put behind him.
“This one meant a lot to me and my career moving forward,” Lane said. “It is a huge boost to me knowing that the decisions I’ve made over the last two years work. I had a really good year last year and now this helps build my confidence even more. I know what you have to do to compete with these guys: never, ever stop.”