Lane leaps five anglers to take lead in Classic


SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. — Tick-tock.

Chris Lane says he’s got a sort of inner clock that starts to tick when everything is in sync and working for him. If ever he’s heard that wonderful sound, it was Saturday at the Bassmaster Classic on the Red River.

The Guntersville, Ala., pro took the lead by bringing 19 pounds, 4 ounces, to the scales Saturday — the day’s heaviest weight — for a two-day total of 35-8. He jumped from sixth place and eased past Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., by 1 pound.

Vinson again took the runner-up seat, just as he had on Friday when he trailed leader Keith Poche of Pike Road, Ala., by a mere ounce.

Pine Bluff’s Stephen Browning weighed in five fish for 12.12 pounds for a two-day total of 23.15 and is in 22nd place. Right behind him is Star City native Greg Hackney in 24th. Hackney weighed in five fish for 9.14 pounds and a two-day total of 23.13.

Poche dropped to 10th place after bringing in 11-8 Saturday, a sharp difference from the 17-13 that took him to the lead the first day.

Alton Jones, the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champ, jumped from 16th place into third place. From Woodway, Texas, Jones made his second-day charge with a 17-14 sack. His two-day total was 31-11.

In fourth place was Chris Lane’s brother, Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., who had 30-12 over two days. Fifth was Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., just 5 ounces behind with 30-7.

The field was cut to the top 25 anglers for Sunday’s competition for the $500,000 first prize and prestigious Classic crown.

Chris Lane said he changed locations, line size, lures, weights — almost everything for Saturday’s round. He chose his new spot and made a commitment to not abandon it until he had given it at least a two-hour chance to produce. He had to work it for over an hour and a half before he got his first fish of about 2 1/2 pounds.

“I stayed focused. I had confidence the decision I had made was right. I stuck it out,” Lane said.

But once the area heated up, it was game on for Lane.

“Catching that fish sat me down, sunk me in and told me it was time to get to work,” he said.

Lane’s been living by a philosophy that he says has changed his fishing and his life. He’s ceased to listen to what others tell him he should or shouldn’t do; he’s learned to trust his instincts.

“It’s like a clock that was broken starts to tick again. I seem to be at a place now where my clock is working.”

Lane completed the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series season ranked 12th in points. He followed that by winning the first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open of the 2012 season, which was on the Harris Chain in his native Florida in late January.

For Vinson, a 4-pounder in the final minutes of Saturday’s fishing time guaranteed he’d be in close contention for the Classic crown on Sunday. The big bass gave him a cull that boosted his weight by about 1 1/2 pounds, he said.

“I had pretty much resigned myself to accepting that the weight I had would be it for the day,” said Vinson, who like Chris Lane, is competing in his second world championship of bass fishing.

Also like Lane, Vinson had to sweat it out in slick, sunny conditions, a marked difference from the first day of competition under cloudy skies and in a brisk wind. But the overnight drop in air temperatures Friday wasn’t enough to spoil much for any of the 49 Classic competitors on Saturday. Most are fishing in backwaters where the bass are either in pre-spawn mode or actually on the beds.

Vinson worked his backwater area hard on Saturday. One of the bass in his day’s bag was a fish he’d tried for Friday.

“When I got back to the spot and made a cast to it, I saw it make a boil — just like it did yesterday — but it came to eat my bait and I ended up catching it,” Vinson said.

For Jones, access to his backwater was dicey. The water’s he’s fishing is so skinny, that he was in danger of being stuck when the water level dropped slightly while he was in the backwater.