ORANGE, Texas – Chris Lane knows things can change quickly on an unpredictable fishery like the Sabine River.
So he can’t say for sure if the pattern he’s fishing will hold up long enough for him to win the Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River Presented by STARK Cultural Venues.
But for the moment, it certainly seems to be serving him well.
After a fog delay of more than two hours Friday – the second such delay in as many days – Lane caught five bass that weighed 12 pounds, 13 ounces and pushed his two-day total to 28-7. That mark put him in the lead for the second straight day, with Aaron Martens (25-14), Shaw Grigsby (24-6), Todd Faircloth (23-8) and Scott Rook (21-6) trailing behind him.
The field will be trimmed to the top 53 anglers for Saturday’s round, and those in contention will be forced to chase fish that have experienced heavy pressure all week.
“I really think I’m going to need 13-15 pounds each day the next two days to win,” Lane said. “Aaron is catching them, Shaw is catching them – and they’re all coming from similar areas. Will that hold up to win? That’s going to be the question.”
Lane continued targeting spawning fish in water less than 2 feet deep – and once again, his best fish came during one brief period of the day. He said it started between noon and 1 p.m., and was influenced heavily by tidal flows.
“I pulled in to where I was yesterday, and there were five or six boats in the back,” Lane said. “So I stayed out, and I caught one as soon as I got there – my first flip. Then I caught another one, caught another one, caught another one and then I culled one. It happened just that fast.”
Lane, who said he plans to follow the same pattern Saturday, is hoping for an earlier start that would give him more time to catch a decent limit and then go exploring other areas for larger fish.
Martens, who crossed paths with Lane several times Thursday, caught five bass Friday that weighed 12-0 with Grigsby close enough to see his every move. The Alabama pro and two-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year is running a similar shallow pattern to Lane’s and watching closely for those moments when the tidal flow is just right.
“I stayed in one area all day because I’m not planning on going back, and I beat it up as best I could,” Martens said. “The fishing is getting a little tougher because the easy ones are getting caught. The ones that are left are hard to catch.
“Hopefully I can go to a different area tomorrow that nobody has been hammering, and it will pay off.”
Grigsby didn’t seem thrilled with the increased level of company he had in the spot that was so good to him on Day 1. But he still put together a solid five-fish limit that weighed 11-2.
Widely known as one of the top sight-fishing anglers in the world, Grigsby said he has been catching bedding fish this week. But with a heavy stain on the water in most places, he said “sight” has had little to do with the technique he’s using.
“They’re spawners,” Grigsby said. “So they’ll bite it and swim off and with it, and you’ll set the hook and miss 50 percent of them. As soon as you think ‘I got him,’ you ain’t got Jack.
“On clearer lakes like Harris Chain, I can watch them and know when the hook is in their mouths. You can’t do that here.”
Martens wasn’t the only contender who milked the same area as Grigsby on Friday.
Faircloth, a Texas angler who won the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series event on the Sabine River, was without a keeper at noon. But he started on the outer edge of the inlet where Grigsby, Martens and several others were fishing and quickly put together a catch of 13-0.
“Things started off slow for me today just like they did yesterday,” Faircloth said. “But I was able to salvage the day. I think it has more to do with that area. I haven’t been able to get to that area until later in the day, and there’s a lot of fish being caught out of there.
“I don’t know if that area is going to hold up. I didn’t think it would today, but it did.”
After Saturday’s round, only the top 12 anglers will advance to Sunday’s championship.
Daily take-offs are scheduled for 7:10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at City of Orange Boat Ramp with weigh-ins scheduled back at the ramp at 4 p.m.