I was the likeable Alabama Pro’s media observer on Day 1 of the Classic, and though there is a lot of media coverage both before and after a tournament like the Classic, there is little information available about what actually happens between blast-off and weigh-in. Afforded the opportunity to be a “fly on the wall” for an entire tournament day, I was able to record the day’s events as they occurred and really provide the “dirt” about what took place that day. In this case Lane’s approach resulted in a victory in stunning fashion, beating runner-up Greg Vinson by more than three pounds.
The following is a minute-by-minute account of how Lane fished on February 24 th , 2012, Day 1 of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River.
5:30 a.m. I met Chris at the Red River South Marina and help him get his boat in the water. The weather forecast for the day is a high of 59, partly cloudy with winds gusting from 10 to 30mph all day. Between the practice days and the start of the tournament it had been in the 70s but a cold front is blowing in just in time for Day 1 and much of the pre-tounament scuttle- butt revolves around how this will affect the fish. Chris prepares his boat and spends time with family before blasting off at only his second ever Classic.
6:47 a.m. As we’re sitting in the boat getting ready to blast-off, I ask Chris how he is feeling about the day. “This feels a whole lot different than my first Classic. I still have the nerves, but now I have the hunger and willingness to go out there and perform at the highest level today and the decisions required to become the Classic Champion are weighing heavy on my head right now”.
6:50 a.m. Chris’ boat is a Legend Alpha 211 with a 250hp Mercury Optimax engine and rigged with Lowrance Electron- ics and two Power Pole 10’ Blades. He reaches into the rod locker and pulls out several All Star rods paired with Abu Garcia baitcasters. From the looks of his tackle selection, Chris plans on staying shallow -- his lure selections include a square bill crankbait, a vibrating jig, a tube, a creature bait and a topwater buzzing frog.
7:05 a.m. Being boat nine out pays dividends, as Chris runs less than a ½ mile to his starting spot, a tiny creek run- ning off the main channel. From where he sets down, the take- off is still visible as he tries to work his way into the shallow creek. He has to blow through some stumps, mud and over a logjam to get into the spot. We are followed by John Crews, Marty Robinson and Alton Jones. Jones decides that four boats is too much for the spot to handle, and heads elsewhere.
7:07 a.m. Chris mentions that “the wa- ter in this backwater looks like it has come down a couple inches, and I was worried for a minute that we wouldn’t be able to get in here”.
Bassmaster Classic puts risk taking at a premium, as there are no Angler of the year points to con- sider and the only position that really counts is the one holding the trophy on Sunday. The potential reward outweighs the risk, and most competitors swing for the fences on Day 1. Chris Lane took such risks throughout his dominating performance at the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River by leaving a good area during Day 1, running all new water on Days 2 and 3 and having the confidence to realize that those risks gave him the best chance of producing the 4-5lb bites necessary to win.
7:10 a.m. After finally getting into the creek, Chris starts casting a black and blue vibrating jig to the dead pad stalks on the edges of the channel, if you can call it a channel. The boat is sitting in 1.7 feet of water and the water on the edges ap- pears to be only inches deep.
7:12 a.m. The water clarity in the backwater is definitely better than the main channel; it appears to have around six inches of visibility as Chris works the vibrating jig along the channel edge.
7:16 a.m. After about 100 yards, the channel opens up into a small “T” shaped slough. Chris puts down the vibrating jig and picks up a Texas-rigged Gambler Ugly Otter creature bait and starts pitching the bait to submerged wood, working the bait very slowly through the retrieve.
7:17 a.m. Chris pitches the creature bait next to a stump and the line jumps. He waits but the fish dropped the bait. He drops his Power Poles and begins to saturate the spot with pitches; he can’t get the fish to come back, and lifts the Power Poles up to continue working his way into the slough.
7:18 a.m. Upon reaching the “T” in the slough, Chris elects to fish the wider, right section along with Marty Robinson. John Crews moves down the left side. Crews almost immediately sets the hook on what looks like a small keeper and boxes what is likely the first fish of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, as most competitors are still waiting to take off.
7:20 a.m. Chris pitches next to a stump, gets bit and sets the hook hard, hanging the creature bait in the stump. He has to break it off saying that the water is so shallow in here that he doesn’t want to go in and get it and disturb the area. Instead of re- tying, Chris picks up a Texas rigged tube, black neon with a char- treuse inner layer and continues working the submerged cover.
7:22 a.m. John Crews lands his second keeper of the day about 75 yards away.
7:25 a.m. Chris gets bit on the tube, slams the rod back and fights a small keeper to the surface, flips it into the boat and quickly places it in the livewell. Keeper number one looks like it will go about 1.5lbs.
7:27 a.m. Without lifting his Power Poles, Chris casts the tube back into the slough and sets the hook on another fish. This one wraps him around some timber and Chris expertly waits for it to unwrap. Eventually, the fish comes off the stump and he brings it to the boat. Keeper number two is a better fish, about 2.5 lbs.
7:30 a.m. Six fish have been caught in this backwater in the last five minutes.