The victory was a long time coming for Bobby Lane, but he’s hoping it’s the chip in the wall that opens the floodgates for him.
Before Saturday’s runaway win in the Bass Pros Shops Eastern Open #1 at Kissimmee Chain, Lane’s last B.A.S.S. victory was almost a decade ago. He held off Kevin VanDam in the 2009 Elite on Kentucky Lake, a year after he won that circuit’s Rookie of the Year title.
“It’s something I’ve been striving for as a professional angler for forever,” he said of Saturday’s win. “I was wondering, the older you get, are you ever going to win one?”
Those doubts creep into the minds of pros with even the best of resumes, like Lane’s. Lane, who turns 44 on March 6, has earned $1.3 million since first fishing the Elites in 2008. He’s cashed in 74 percent (96 out of 129 events), and next month he’ll compete in his 11th consecutive Classic.
Lane has won a handful of events in other circuits, and he’s also had a number of close calls in B.A.S.S., with five runner-up finishes and two third places. From Lakeland, he’s always been strong in his home state of Florida, with two second places in Kissimmee Opens and another on Okeechobee, where his brother Chris topped him.
In the 2011 Elite on Pickwick, he finished behind only Davy Hite, and Lane was also runner-up to Casey Ashley in the 2015 Classic on Lake Hartwell, which hosts this year’s championship. His third-place finishes are on the Harris Chain.
“I’ve been so close so many times, just to have a win to start out the season, it just doesn’t get any better,” he said. “I’ve got some things to chip off my list, and that put a mark on one of them. That Open has eluded me forever. I’m glad to take that and put an X on it and throw it in the bucket.”
It was really special because his entire family was there, as well as many friends. His home is less than an hour from Orlando.
“There’s nothing better than to have my whole family there,” he said. “My children got to enjoy it. It’s so nice to be in Orlando at the Bass Pro Shop – all of that is home to me. There was just a ton of people come out and watch me. It’s exciting. It’s hard to explain what that really that means to me.”
While the “Big Fish” nickname goes before Bobby, his younger brother Chris is known as “The Champ,” having won seven B.A.S.S. events, including the 2012 Classic. Chris had two Open wins on Okeechobee before starting an incredible run in 2012 with an Open title on the Harris Chain, followed with his Classic on the Red River. He then won an Elite event in each of the next three seasons.
Bobby is hoping to parlay this Open win similarly. Sometimes all an angler needs is to taste triumph to break free and figure out what it takes to win.