GREENVILLE, S.C. – Lake Hartwell has been very, very good to Bobby Lane. Lake Hartwell has also been quite a difficult temptress for Bobby Lane.
The Florida pro fished his first GEICO Bassmaster Classic here in South Carolina in 2008, finishing fourth, and this week he improved upon that result, ultimately ending up as the runner-up to Casey Ashley by a deficit of just 3, pounds, 2 ounces. In a tournament where few fans remember anyone but the winner, those great finishes get lost in the media propwash.
His weights got better each competition day, culminating in a catch of 19-1 Sunday, but he was undone by a four-fish bag of 10-10 on Day One.
Sunday, he had the big fish, a 6-6 Hartwell largemouth, but none of the estimated 20 bass under that same dock would bite later. Again, Lake Hartwell giveth and Lake Hartwell taketh away.
“Everything goes back to that first day,” he said. “I lost my fifth fish with an hour to go. There was a weird feeling I got about it then. Casey still smashed them today, and I’m happy for Casey. Other than that one fish, I don’t feel like I left anything out there.”
Lane fished from 2 feet deep to 40 feet deep, showing amazing versatility for an angler presumed to be a one-trick Florida flipper. That might’ve been the case prior to 2008, but since a swimbait-propelled Elite Series victory at Kentucky Lake in 2009, anyone who has slept on Lane’s complete array of skills has only themselves to blame.
“The further into my career I go, I can never count myself out,” he said. “My confidence was gone that first day when I didn’t have a bite until 10 am. This was one of the first Classics where I really made guys beat me because I put things together as the tournament went on.”
He fought the world’s best, including a local hammer, and was beaten, rather than losing the crown.
While he proclaimed himself pleased with his performance, the failure to snatch a victory on the sport’s biggest stage was understandably disappointing.
“I’m hungry for a one, not a two,” he said. “Twos are ‘attaboys, you had a great event.’ I want to hear ‘congrats for winning.’”
His brother Chris, the 2012 Classic champion, said that Bobby will have his day in the sun.
“Bobby’s a tough dude,” he said. “I’m sure that it’s a little bit emotional right now. Actually, emotional is not a very good word for Bobby. This will make him hungry. He wants to win real bad. This should put the rest of the Elites on notice that it’s going to happen in the future.”
Bobby agreed, with a caveat. “I think I need to practice a little harder,” he said. “Instead of coming in an hour before dark, I’m going to start coming in an hour after dark.”