Excited Lane Crosses Sudden Death Finish Line Second, Makes Championship Round
By Lynn Burkhead
July 23, 2017
Bobby Lane, winner of the 2016 Major League Fishing Challenge Cup event in Lake County, Florida, is known far and wide as Big Fish Bobby.
After all, the Florida pro - and big bass specialist - is the Major League Fishing record holder for biggest bass, an 8-pound, 5-ounce fish caught at the 2015 Challenge Cup in Shreveport/Bossier City, La.
What's more, he's got a string of angling prizes, awards that include the 2009 Tennessee Triumph Bassmaster Elite Series event to go along with five runner-up finishes, two third place finishes, 32 "Top 10" finishes, 54 "Top 20" finishes, 71 "Top 30" finishes, and more than $1.2 million dollars in career earnings in 124 events.
To achieve those career accolades, Lane has caught plenty of big largemouth bass down through the years.
But in his mind, even as a MLF Cup champion, it might be a small bass from East Texas' Lake Jacksonville that proves to be one of the most important fish of his entire career.
Because when Lane landed that smaller bass with the CBS Sports network television cameras looking on, it propelled him past the cut weight and on to the 2017 Major League Fishing World Championship final round.
"I didn't even know that I hit my cut weight," said Lane with a wry smile. "The guys behind me were beginning to climb up just a little bit and I only had a two-ounce lead or something like that.
"But to make that cut weight and to make the World Championship final round, that's just absolutely phenomenal," he added. "It took me by surprise and it blew my mind that I was going to go to fish for the World Championship. That's why I (looked so) surprised."
Lane said the accomplishment of advancing was made sweeter by persevering on a lake - Lake Jacksonville - that was vastly different than the timber-choked Lake Naconiche that he had done so well on earlier in the week.
"To see the curveball that we were thrown, and to pick up on a pattern quickly and tap out with the cut weight, it was a good day for me," he smiled.
With the first MLF World Championship title waiting for a winner among the four finalists - a field that includes Lane, Kevin VanDam, Jeff Kriet and Mark Davis - what would it mean for Big Fish Bobby to get it done?
"Well, it would mean everything," Lane said. "It would mean that I am mentally, physically and in a versatile fashion, fishing 100-percent to the best of my ability right now.
"And if I don't win, I still feel that way because I'm (here now), fishing against four of the best anglers in the world," he added.
"We are the ones putting the numbers on the board all week long and we all feel like we deserve to be here."
To be the champion, Lane said some things will have to go his way in the final round.
"A lot of stuff has gone right for me this week," said Lane. "Honestly, my fishing, my mind, my health, everything, it feels better than it ever has so far this year for some reason."
Lane mentioned versatility, something that he has had to call upon as he has fished a variety of structure and cover ranging from hydrilla and vegetation to thick stands of flooded timber to boat docks and boat houses.
He expects to need all of those skills now that he has made the Championship Round.
"Yes, we've covered the gamut this week," smiled Lane. "We fished the thickest timber I've ever fished in (on Naconiche) where I threw a swim jig and flipped some. I thought I was very well prepared for that.
"And then on Jacksonville, that's what I was ready to do and we show up and all I see are boat docks, houses, and boats when we pulled up," he added. "When you see a lot of boats on docks, that means that the (lake) gets fished pretty heavily and they get a lot of runaround traffic too.
"I said 'Man, this could be a real curveball, I just hope they eat my swim jig.' Well, they didn't eat it in the first 30 or 40 minutes, but then I saw the numbers (on SCORETRACKER LIVE!) coming up, they were all small fish.
"I was smart enough to pick something up and (just) get on the board. And once I caught my first two or three fish, the lights went on and it was time to start catching them and eventually be the second guy out."
While Lane was the second guy out, he knows that everybody starts at zero tomorrow morning with a World Championship waiting in the wings.
"I should have been the first guy out after several misses, but those fish were finicky and had been caught before," Lane said.
"It doesn't matter though, because we made it happen on 10-pound test braid with a fluorocarbon leader - instead of straight 50 or 60-pound braid - with a spinning reel with a (soft plastic) and a little tiny 1/0 Wacky style hook," he added.
"Huge changes, (but) I was prepared properly, and once I got on it, I never put it down all the way to tapping out."
And what now?
Lane hopes that his two strengths this week - swim jigs and also flipping a jig - will come back into play in his bid to win the biggest title of his building career.
"It's springtime, we're in Texas, the fish are shallow and I know that they are spawning," said Lane. "Some have spawned already, but some have not, and we should have (some cooler temperatures).
"They ought to bite," he added. "For Bobby Lane to win, it will probably have to be power fishing techniques."
While he hopes to get off to a great start in the final Championship Round, he plans to fall back on the experience that he gained in winning the 2015 MLF Challenge Cup where he closed things out with a strong finish in the final half-hour of action."I trailed really all day long (in that), but put up five or six really nice fish towards the end to put me over the top," recalled Lane. "So that being said, I'm glad that happened to me because I learned a lot."
"That you're never out of it," Lane said. "And (since) we're in Texas, and we're in the springtime, you're (really) never out of it (here).
"You could pull up to the right spot, out to the right bay, to the right point, to the right dock, or to the right stick-up and go to catching them like I did (in Sudden Death)."
And if he can do that in the Championship Round, then Bobby Lane may very well be crowned your 2017 MLF World Champion.
After all, he's known far and wide as Big Fish Bobby.
So why not a new nickname given here in the Lone Star State, something like World Champion Bobby?