By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Bobby Lane competed in his first Bassmaster Classic in 2008 and has never missed one since. This year he's got a little more late-season work to do than usual in order to be among the field at Lake Hartwell next February.
He's in 34th place in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race, which equals his lowest-ever finish on the points list in the 6 full campaigns he's logged. That's in the immediate neighborhood of where the Classic cut line will fall once the final two regular-season events and the AOY Championship have been completed.
Momentum won't be on the 40-year-old Floridian's side when he launches his boat at the Delaware River next week – he's coming off the only two triple-digit finishes of his Elite Series career. Granted, one of those (the inaugural BASSFest at Lake Chickamauga) was a non-points event with an expanded roster, but he said there was a common theme that ran through that 110th-place showing and the 105th he posted at Lake Dardanelle about a month prior.
"I know how to catch them and it's a matter of getting my head out of my (butt), to be honest," he said. "I haven't had any boat or tackle issues and I haven't been missing any key fish – I just haven't been on them the last two events.
"It's really my fault because I didn't prepare myself properly. There were a lot of fish caught up (shallow) where I like to fish, but for some reason I wanted to mix it up. I was running and gunning and trying to do too many things. It was just poor fishing."
It's Not that Easy
Lane sat at No. 12 in the AOY race heading into the most recent points derby at Dardanelle. That tournament turned out to be a disaster on multiple fronts.
That was the event at which his brother Chris' boat somehow caught fire in the wee morning hours just prior to the start of competition. However, he said the extra stress that occurrence brought on was not a factor in his performance.
Complacency had already set the stage for a stinker and he caught just two keepers for 3 1/2 pounds on day 1. That snapped a daily-limit streak that extended back nearly 2 calendar years.
"Things happen; this is a humbling sport," he said. "You get consistent and you're sure you're going to catch them whether you have a good practice or a bad practice or whatever and you don't equate any of it to luck.
"I probably needed what happened at Dardanelle to get me back to trying a little harder. We've had about 7 weeks off now and I needed to take a step back and realize that it was time to get back out there and have a great finish to the year."
He felt fortunate to fall only 22 places after such a bomb.
"That just shows how bad some other guys did also. It was the weirdest event – guys who almost always make a check were down there in the 80s and 90s not too far above me. It was a real flip-flop for a lot of people."
Back to Business
The Elite Series visits the Delaware and Cayuga Lake over a 3-week span starting next week. Lane has never been to either venue, but nothing about them causes the slightest bit of trepidation.
The Delaware is a tidal fishery, and he's had plenty of success on those (he has two FLW Rayovac Series wins and a 3rd-place FLW Tour finish on the Potomac River). Cayuga is relatively close to Lake Oneida, where he also has a pretty strong track record.
"I enjoy fishing tides and once I figure that one out I think I'll stand a pretty good chance," he said. "I like tough tournaments – I like to seek out a 3- or 4-pound bite to go with a limit of pound-and-a-half or pound-and-three-quarter fish. A lot of guys (who pre-practiced there) are intimidated already, but guys like me who haven't gone and don't have a clue aren't too worried about it yet.
"One of those tournaments is on a river and the other one's on a fairly small lake, and fish live shallow at both of them and they can be caught shallow. I'm ready to go – it'll be head out of (butt), rod and reel in gear and let's go catch them."