THE LANE GAME
Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush - Photos by Mark Jeffreys and Dave Rush
Shreveport, LA - As predicted, the leader board at the conclusion of the second day of competition in the Bassmaster Classic on Louisiana’s Red River bore little resemblance to the final results from Day One, where Keith Poche held a slim 1-ounce lead over Greg Vinson.
When the last bass hit the scales on Saturday, Vinson was the only angler from Friday’s Top Five to maintain his position. Poche remained in the mix, but fell to 10th Place after bringing just 11-8 to the scales. Dustin Wilks, David Walker, and Ott DeFoe all stumbled as well, finishing the day in 6th, 9th, and 15th, respectively.
The day belonged to Alabama’s Chris Lane, who flirted with the 20-pound mark by bringing the tournament’s heaviest limit to the scales weighing 19-7. Entering the day in a tie for 6th place with his brother, Bobby Lane, Chris vaulted into the lead with a two day total weight of 35-8.
Greg Vinson remained solid, toting another 16-12 to the scales to finish exactly 1-pound behind Lane.
Saturday’s biggest mover was Texan Alton Jones. Entering the day in 16th Place, Jones’ 17-14 limit on Saturday pushed his total weight to 31-11 and moved him into the 3rd position.
Bobby Lane finished in 4th, after adding another 14-8 to bring his total to 30-12, and Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers weighed-in a limit weighing 14-4 to round out the Top Five with a total weight of 30-7.
After battling stiff winds and overcast skies on Friday, the Classic field was greeted with chilly morning temperatures, calm winds and midday sunshine on Saturday. For Sunday, temperatures are expected to reach the mid 60s with light winds around 10-miles-per-hour.
1st Place: Chris Lane (35-8)
Chris Lane’s second career Classic didn’t get off to a very good start. Sharing a small backwater pond with two fellow competitors, Lane got on the board with a solid keeper early on Friday morning, but proceeded to lose two bass in the 4-pound class in the first 30 minutes of competition.
After regaining his composure, Lane proceeded to fill out his limit within the first two hours before changing locations and making several mid-day upgrades to land in a tie for 6th Place with 16-4.
On Saturday, Lane shocked the Shreveport crowd by crossing the stage with 19-4, the tournament’s heaviest stringer. As a result, he shot up the leader board and will take a 1-pound lead into the final day of the Bassmaster Classic.
Despite the accomplishment of leading the Classic with just eight-hours of competition left, Lane refused to soak in the excitement and pledged to approach Sunday’s finale with a workers mindset. “Honestly, I feel like it’s a job that I need to complete,” said Lane. “I looked at the leader board, and there are a lot of big names and a lot of big weights. I’ve got a job to do tomorrow. I want to enjoy this right now, but I know that the enjoyment will be a lot more tomorrow if I can do what I want to do, which is win the Bassmaster Classic.
“It’s a strange feeling,” continued Lane, who finished 49th in his first Classic appearance in 2008. “Coming up the River today after catching the big one, it got emotional. All these thoughts run through your head, and I started thinking about the boat ride around (the arena) with my wife and my four kids. That’s been on my mind quite a bit. You’ve just got to block it out and stay 100% focused all the time.”
On Saturday, Lane took a run and gun approach to fishing the Red River, and plans on taking the same game plan into Sunday. “I think that I’m going to run some of the same water and see where it goes from there,” he explained. “I’ve got one spot that I don’t think a boat has been in yet. I’m going to have to have over 20-pounds tomorrow to win this thing – I feel that 100% in my head. I don’t think that I can catch all 20-pounds in one area. It’s going to be one or two fish in each area. The first day was ‘grind it out,’ but today was more of a run and gun day. I may stick with that scenario tomorrow. “
Lane credited his success over the past two days of competition to the fact that he has figured out how to get “one or two” key bites. “For the most part, it’s being in the right area, having confidence in what I’m doing, and waiting for that big bite.”
With a large gallery of spectators expected to follow the leader, Lane said that one of his primary locations is ideal for crowd control. “That actually went into some of my strategy,” he said. “This one area that I’ve got, there’s a bar there and we should be able to hold some of the people back. In one other area, I don’t think that the spectators will be able to even get their boats in there.”
Lane stated his excitement about the fact that his brother, Bobby Lane, is also in the Top Five heading into the final day of the Classic. That being said, Both Lane’s will be gunning for the top spot on the podium. “We both have a job to do, and with that, it’s like an office,” explained Chris. “You can’t have two brothers with desks facing each other – they have to have separate offices, and our boats are our offices. We put our heads down and do our jobs, but both of us want each other to succeed at the highest level.”
2nd Place: Greg Vinson (34-8)
After putting another solid day in the books, Greg Vinson finds himself in quite the enviable position. The Rooster is perched only one-pound behind leader Chris Lane, and has been the most consistent angler in the Classic field. Vinson sacked 16-12 on day two, and feels like he is figuring out more about his area each and every day.
“I figured out the sweet spot in the area I am fishing. It is about 150 yards long and about 50 yards wide. The more I fish it, I am figuring out where all the prime cover is within the spot so I am getting more efficient each day I am fishing there. It is a shallow water area, and the fish have been pressured so I am making as long of a cast as I can to the little subtle deals and fishing it very thoroughly,” Vinson said.
Locking down to pool 4 and spending his entire day in one area has been the magic number for Vinson so far, and he plans on business as usual on day 3. Putting a variable like a lock into the equation of winning a Bassmaster Classic can be a risky proposition, however Greg knows it is an all or nothing event for him, so there is no second guessing his game plan for the final day.
“I was one of the guys who had issues with the locks at the Arkansas River last year, and I am well aware that locking issues have cost guys tournament wins in the past. I can’t let that be a factor in my fishing on Sunday. I know the only way I am going to have a shot to win this thing is to stick to my guns and do what I have been doing for the first two days. My area is constantly reloading with fish. Every time I catch one off a key little piece of cover, another one takes its place. The potential is there for a bigger bag than I have weighed in so far, and I really think that tomorrow could be the best fishing day we have had ,” said Vinson.
3rd Place: Alton Jones (31-11)
2008 Classic champion Alton Jones made a hard charge up the leader board on Saturday, putting himself in prime position to take another Classic trophy home to Texas. Jones was able to improve on his day one total by over four pounds, and his 17-14 day two sack has him sitting in 3rd place headed into the final day the Classic.
After weighing his options and sleeping on his decision, Alton decided not to abandon his day one area, but rather to return with the confidence that the right fish to win the Classic were swimming in his prime location. The decision paid off handsomely and Jones plans on sticking to his guns again on day 3.
“I was considering making a change today and checking out another area but decided to give my day one spot another try. You never want to leave fish, and I have some history with this particular spot and know what it is capable of producing. The last time we were here I caught 20 lbs there on the last day, so I know it is capable of sustaining pressure but still giving up a lot of quality fish. Having that confidence will allow me to go back there in the morning and know that I still have a shot at winning this thing. This area just keeps surprising me at how quickly it reloads with fish,” Jones said.
The ever changing Red River didn’t disappoint today, as Jones faced slick conditions and bright skies which was a totally different scenario from day one. While the morning temperatures might have had the anglers bundling up, the fish didn’t seem to let it get in the way of their strong desire to be in the shallow backwaters looking for a place to spawn.
“I actually think the sunshine and the calm conditions allowed things to settle out a little bit and let the water temperature stabilize again. There are a lot of fish roaming around up shallow looking to spawn, and I expect tomorrow to be even better. The potential is there for someone to have a really big day on Sunday, and bedding bass could be a big factor in the outcome of this classic,” Jones concluded.
4th Place: Bobby Lane (30-12)
Bobby Lane’s 2012 Classic got off to an impressive start. On Friday, the Florida pro had boxed a limit of Red River largemouth less than 10-minutes after making his first cast. On Saturday, it took a little longer for Lane to catch a limit, but the day started out with a bang.
“I used my trolling motor to slip up into the shallow water, and on my first cast with a spinnerbait I caught a 4 ½-pounder,” he said. “I had a limit by 11:00.” Fishing in the same general vicinity as 3rd place finisher Greg Vinson, Lane is confident that the quality remains to make a run at the title on Sunday.
“The fish are there,” he said. “If you can make the right decision at the right time, it’s anybody’s Classic.” Like many of his fellow competitors, Lane has targeted shallow backwater areas for pre-spawn and spawning bass. “If anything, the water has cleared up a little bit,” he explained. “It’s been pretty stable over the past two days.”
While weights often decrease across the board as the tournament progresses, Lane believes that Sunday on the Red River could very well be the best Classic day yet. “I think that tomorrow will be light’s out,” he said. “The guys that are around bed fish will see a lot more fish moving into their areas.”
Lane might also possibly have an ace up his sleeve that could prove to be the difference maker on Sunday. “I have one fish left on a bed in a pocket that I haven’t been into in the last five days,” he divulged. “I don’t know if she’s still there, but it’s about a 5-pounder. I’ll slip in there tomorrow and see if she’s still there.”
While fishing in the Bassmaster Classic is never a stress-free week, Lane pointed out that he has more than enjoyed his time on the water. “I think that I had 14 spectator boats and some camera boats in the area this morning. They cheered me on and kept their distance. I’ve really been enjoying myself out there with the crowd.”
5th Place: Edwin Evers (30-7)
After a solid 5th place finish on the Red River in the 2009 Classic, Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers was on many of the pundits watch lists heading into this year’s Classic. Evers proved the prognosticators correct on Friday, crossing the stage with a 16-4 limit to land in 8th Place.
On Saturday, Evers weight dropped off slightly, but his position on the leader board improved after weighing a 14-4 limit. Even though he will enter the final day of Classic competition inside the Top 5, the tight-lipped Evers divulged that Sunday on the Red River will bring with it many unknowns.
“I don’t think it (the Classic) can be won in there, I just don’t,” he said about the area that he has shared with Todd Faircloth and Keith Combs for the past two days.” Following a gut feeling that began to develop throughout the day on Saturday, Evers said that he plans on plying untested waters in hopes of finding untapped fish on Sunday.
“I’m going to go into my area and try to catch two fish,” he said. “After that, I’m going to get out of there.” While Evers knows where he will pin his Classic hopes for the majority of Sunday’s finale, he’s unsure if the gamble will pay off. “I haven’t had a bite in there, but I think that it’s about to get right,” he explained. “I could zero, but you don’t win these things without taking chances.”
Evers said that on Saturday, the majority of his fish came off beds. “It’s clearer and warmer water in there,” he said. “I thought that I had (the best area), but after seeing what Todd (Faircloth) and Keith Combs caught in there today, obviously not. I think that they caught them all before the fish got back to me.”
6th Place: Dustin Wilks (30-3)
“I went back to the same area today and I was shocked that I was able to do well again. I was down in the dumps today at about 9:00. I settled down and ended up catching some fish.
“Everyone in front of me needs to stumble for me to have a chance. I just don’t see my area capable of a 20-pound bag at this point. So many people have been beating the area. Tops, 16- or 17-pounds is about the best you can do out of there.
“With the weather, some more fish could potentially move up. I was working on a pretty good pattern when the sun was out, but it died when the clouds rolled in. They’re right on the verge of spawning.”
10th Place: Keith Poche (29-5)
“I had the opportunity to really catch them today, so that hurt. A good day would have been a 15-pound bag. I’m going to stick with what I’m doing and go to the same area, throw the same bait, and do the same thing.
“The opportunity to catch them big is there. I have a shot of really winning this thing in that place. There’s a 25-pound bag in that hole. We’ll see what happens. The overnight low really hurt me. Yesterday, the water temperature was in the mid 60s. Today, it was in the high 50s. The water temperature is everything when it comes to fish that want to spawn.
“My biggest fish yesterday came off of a bed, and I lost two good ones today. I lost one that was over three and one over four. They’re on the bed right now, but they’re not 100% locked on. You’ve really got to work for them.”
11th Place: Keith Combs (28-10)
“I’m committed to one area for sure. As far as how I’m going to fish for them, I really don’t know. I have four or five ideas about how I can get a bite so I’ll start cycling through them until I find one that works the best.
“Yesterday, I really should have had about 16-pounds. I guess that I’d like to see calm conditions, but if it blows, that’s OK. I think that the fish are coming to me. I was several fish in the 4- to 5-pound range. If I can catch those, it’s anybody’s ball game. They want to lock down on beds, but they’re really spooky still.”
12th Place: Timmy Horton (28-9)
“I decided to go with the jumpsuit after having some fun with the fans on Facebook. They talked me into it, so I thought it would be cool to pay tribute to the older guys. The Hula Popper was my dad’s favorite lure, so that’s why I added that one. I put the jumpsuit on when I got in, so I didn’t fish in it all day.
“Tomorrow, I need to have three or four big bites. That’s one of the only ways that you can catch up. I think that I have the fish in my area to do that. I have the area to myself, so hopefully things will go perfectly.”
13th Place: Todd Faircloth (28-5)
"Two of the fish that I weighed-in, I was looking at. I’m pretty sure that most of my fish are spawning, but the water is dirty and I can’t see them. I’m trying to visualize where the fish would be spawning at and that’s where I’m making my casts.
The biggest difference for me today was that I was able to slow down. We were catching the bucks on the moving baits yesterday, and the big females aren’t really going to chase a bait when they’re spawning this time of year.
“I’m fishing really slowly, and when I got to an area that looks right, I really slow down and pick it apart.”
14th Place: Brent Chapman (27-8)
“Today, I caught four on a spinnerbait and a few on a Tight Lines UV Beaver. I like to commit to an area and really try to figure them out, and that’s what I did today and what I’ll do tomorrow.
“I was able to expand my area and move around some. I think that the fish are moving, and it’s just a matter of covering water until you find one that’s moved up and looking to eat. The big ones are there and I’m doing what I need to be doing. Hopefully, they’ll get in the places where they need to be in order to capitalize on it.
“I’m really excited to fish tomorrow. There will be a lot less pressure from other anglers.”
15th Place: Ott Defoe (27-7)
“The fish seemed to suspend a little bit more. They weren’t hunkered down next to the cover and the grass like they were yesterday.
“There are some really big fish in this place, but they’re smart. The only way to really win the tournament out of there is for them to pull up and get on the beds. There are some fish that are doing that, but that’s the only way.
“In the past, there have been 10-pounders caught out of the area in the past. They live in there. You could catch 20-something pounds out of there but it would have to go as good as it’s ever been.”
28th Place: Gerald Swindle (22-2)
“It was still a struggle for me today. I ended up having to lock down and make some adjustments. I caught two fish on the bank that I started on yesterday, but they were small. I made one simple change to a Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm and started pitching it around. I caught a 6-pounder and a 4-pounder. “
32nd Place: Fletcher Shryock (19-13)
“Overall, it was a good experience. I’m kind of bummed that I made a bad decision on the first day. I really didn’t plan on fishing the area that I fished for the last two days. It was one of those deals where I just pulled in there before locking through.
“Waiting for the lock, I caught a good one and thought that I’d be able to catch a good bag. That was the worst thing that could have happened.”
33rd Place: Dean Rojas (19-7)
“I went to my backup spot today. I basically committed to the area because I knew there were big ones there. There was just something missing this week. I was constantly trying to find the fish because I was fishing oxbows and ditches.
“For me, it was just a matter of trying to figure them out this week and it never happened. I was fishing for pre-spawners and betting that the females would start moving into the 3- to 4-foot of water. It just didn’t happen. They guys in the backwater ponds caught them because it was protected back there.”
DAY 2 STANDINGS
|Place||Name||Day 1||Day 2||Total Fish||Total Weight|
|1||Chris Lane||5||16- 4||5||19- 4||10||35- 8|
|2||Greg Vinson||5||17-12||5||16-12||10||34- 8|
|4||Bobby Lane||5||16- 4||5||14- 8||10||30-12|
|5||Edwin Evers||5||16- 3||5||14- 4||10||30- 7|
|6||Dustin Wilks||5||16- 9||5||13-10||10||30- 3|
|8||Aaron Martens||5||13-14||5||15-11||10||29- 9|
|9||David Walker||5||16- 8||5||12-14||10||29- 6|
|10||Keith Poche||5||17-13||5||11- 8||10||29- 5|
|11||Keith Combs||5||13- 9||5||15- 1||10||28-10|
|12||Timmy Horton||5||10-11||5||17-14||10||28- 9|
|13||Todd Faircloth||5||9- 9||5||18-12||10||28- 5|
|14||Brent Chapman||5||11-14||5||15-10||10||27- 8|
|15||Ott DeFoe||5||16- 6||5||11- 1||10||27- 7|
|16||Matt Reed||5||14- 8||5||12-12||10||27- 4|
|17||Davy Hite||5||13- 8||5||12-14||10||26- 6|
|18||Kevin VanDam||5||11- 0||5||13-15||10||24-15|
|19||Josh Polfer||5||11- 3||5||13- 1||10||24- 4|
|20||Kevin Wirth||4||8-15||5||15- 5||9||24- 4|
|21||Chris Price||5||10- 7||5||13-10||10||24- 1|
|22||Stephen Browning||5||11- 3||5||12-12||10||23-15|
|23||Jamie Horton||5||14-15||3||9- 0||8||23-15|
|26||Michael Iaconelli||5||10- 7||5||13- 5||10||23-12|
|27||Jeff Kriet||5||10- 6||5||12- 4||10||22-10|
|28||Gerald Swindle||5||8-12||4||13- 6||9||22- 2|
|29||Marty Robinson||5||12- 8||5||9- 7||10||21-15|
|31||Andrew Upshaw||5||12- 8||5||7- 9||10||20- 1|
|32||Fletcher Shryock||5||10- 3||5||9-10||10||19-13|
|33||Dean Rojas||2||6- 0||5||13- 7||7||19- 7|
|34||Matt McCoy||1||1-14||5||17- 7||6||19- 5|
|35||Jared Lintner||3||6- 8||5||12- 5||8||18-13|
|36||Allan Glasgow||5||10-15||5||7-10||10||18- 9|
|37||Stephen Kennedy||5||11-15||4||6- 9||9||18- 8|
|38||Randy Howell||5||11-11||3||6- 7||8||18- 2|
|39||Terry Scroggins||5||14- 8||3||3- 9||8||18- 1|
|40||Ishama Monroe||5||9-10||5||6-13||10||16- 7|
|41||Mark Tucker||2||5- 7||5||10-10||7||16- 1|
|42||Fred Roumbanis||5||10-10||3||5- 2||8||15-12|
|43||Kelly Pratt||1||1-13||5||11- 8||6||13- 5|
|44||Denny Brauer||3||8-13||1||3- 0||4||11-13|
|45||Tom Jessop||5||10- 7||1||6||11- 5|
|46||Casey Ashley||1||1-11||4||7-11||5||9- 6|
|47||John Diaco||4||6-12||1||2- 1||5||8-13|
|48||Brandon Palaniuk||0||0- 0||3||5-15||3||5-15|
|49||Shaw E Grigsby||2||4- 5||2||4- 5|