Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 05/18/2014

Story by Matt Pangrac

Russellville, AR - Regardless of what happens over the final competition day this week at the Elite Series tournament on Lake Dardanelle, this tournament will be remembered for the scary situation that Chris Lane encountered during the early morning hours on Thursday when he was woken at 2:00 AM to find his boat engulfed in flames outside his hotel room.  

CLICK HERE to watch a video that The BASS ZONE shot of the aftermath of the fire.   

As has been reported over the past several days, the fishing community rallied around Lane, and he was able to fish the tournament out of a borrowed boat with borrowed tackle and equipment.  The result wasn’t pretty, however, and Lane finished in 98th place this week on Dardanelle – the lowest Elite Series finish of his career.   He said that, without a doubt, the boat fire on early Thursday morning rattled his confidence and changed how he fished on Thursday and Friday.  

“Before all this happened, I felt really dialed in with what I found during practice,” he explained.  “I’m a big fan of following my instincts, and there were several times on Thursday and Friday where I remember thinking, ‘Man, I wish I had this’ or ‘I wish I had that.’  Preparation is really important for me going into an event, and my preparation literally went up in smoke this week.”  

If there is a silver lining to this story, it’s the fact that Lane’s 98th place finish on Dardanelle had no impact on qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic next February on Lake Hartwell.  With an Elite Series victory earlier this season on the St. Johns River, Lane is already qualified for the Hartwell Classic.  

“I try to look at the positive in every situation, and I have just kept reminding myself that at least I’ve already made the Classic,” said Lane. “Wipe out the fact that this year is the biggest payout in the Angler Of the Year race, wipe out the fact that there was $100,000 on the line this week, and wipe out the fact that my office just went up in flames.  When you look at the big picture, the important thing is that everyone is safe and this didn’t cost me a chance to make the Bassmaster Classic.”

When The BASS ZONE spoke with Lane as he drove back to Alabama on Friday evening, he took some time to reflect on how appreciative he was to have some key sponsors and people in his camp to help soften a potentially devastating blow.

“I can’t say enough about family, friends, sponsors, and everybody who made an effort to get me everything that I needed to fish this event,” said Lane.  “When I got back to my hotel after the tournament, there was a brand new Legend Alpha 211 waiting for me that Lisa and her husband from Legend Boats had towed to Russellville. It’s already rigged with all the features that were on my old boat, and you just can’t say enough about a company that treats you that well and takes care of you that quickly.

“Right now, I’m headed back to Alabama with a brand new Legend boat behind my truck,” continued Lane.  “I’m already itching to get back on the water.”  

Lane also expressed gratitude for the role that his manager, JD Blackburn, played this week in taking care of the logistical nightmare.  “JD comes to every single Elite Series tournament, and he worked his butt off while I was on the water competing and after each day when I was off the water.  He was the guy who spent hours making phone calls and taking care of the paperwork.  I’m with Boater’s Insurance Agency out of California, and right now as I talk with you, my claim is filed, the inspectors have been out, and everything is basically wrapped up.  I already have full coverage on this brand new boat that I’m towing back to Alabama. My hat’s off to JD – I owe him a big, huge ‘thanks.’”  

With Dardanelle literally in his rearview mirror, Lane is ready to put the scary situation behind him.  “All I can do is move on from this experience and catch them at the next tournament,” he concluded.