Lane brought in a limit of five largemouth bass that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces, putting him just 1 pound, 10 ounces ahead of Arkansas’ Mike Wurm and Oklahoma’s Terry Butcher, who tied for second place with a catch of 19-8.
See if Lane can hold the lead, or if he will be caught by the remaining 101 Elite anglers in the field, on The CITGO Bassmasters Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Lane, 30, of Winter Haven, Fla., said his strategy was to fish Lake Champlain just like he fishes his home water, Lake Okeechobee in Florida, where he won the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour event in January.
“When I came into the bay and saw all of the hydrilla and lily pads…I knew I had found something,” said Lane, who added that Okeechobee contains the same types of aquatic vegetation. “When I started fishing slow, they just started killing it [the lure].”
Lane said his primary lure was a Gambler Cane Toad, and that he had his limit by 9 a.m.
A first-day lead in an Elite event is an accomplishment, and especially so for Lane. His highest finish in an Elite Series event this year is 28th. Currently 11th in the Toyota Rookie of the Year standings, he is confident this tournament will find him in the Elite 12 on Sunday, when the final-day field will be the top 12 from Saturday’s competition.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m not nervous or concerned, I’m just ready to go out there and fish. These guys aren’t going to slack off, so I’ve got to work.”
Holding second place with Butcher, Wurm keyed in on largemouth, including a 6-pound, 6-ounce lunker that took Purolator Big Bass honors, earning him a $1,000 bonus. Wurm, currently ranked 11th on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index, said he fished a blue-and-black Strike King jig in 2 to 5 feet of water.
“I had a marvelous day,” said Wurm, 53, of Hot Springs, Ark. “It was a little bumpy, but by the time I got to my second location, things started popping.”
Butcher, 35, was one of the few Elite anglers in the top 10 who brought both largemouth and smallmouth bass to the scales on Thursday. He said he fished for largemouth in the morning, but left his location early for smallmouth bass. Butcher, who is from Talala, Okla., said he flipped a variety of lures, including spinnerbaits, jigs, and frogs.
Rounding out the top five were Paul Hirosky of Pennsylvania, whose 19 pounds, 6 ounces put him just 2 ounces out of second place, and veteran pro Denny Brauer champion of the 1998 CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Brauer, In fifth with a catch of 19-5, was just 1 ounce behind Hirosky.
Co-angler Stephen Gould of Kalamazoo, Mich., took the Day 1 lead in his division with 12 pounds, 12 ounces. Included in Gould’s catch was a 4-pound, 15-ounce fish for Purolator Big Bass honors in the co-angler division. He shared the bonus $500 prize with second-place co-angler Bill Spence of Vermont, who also brought in a 4-15 bass.
Gould was just 11 ounces ahead of Spence, and a slightly more comfortable 1-13 ahead of third-place holder Charlie Raia of Alabama. They were followed by Tom Sweeney of Connecticut with 10-1 and Kevin Cunningham of New York with 10 pounds even.
The top 25 co-anglers are competing for $115,400 in cash and merchandise. Their three-day competition ends on Saturday, when the winner gets a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $45,000.
Elite Series anglers are vying for $673,150 in cash to the top 50 Elite pros and valuable points toward qualifying for the Bassmaster Majors and CITGO Bassmaster Classic; points also count in the race for the coveted CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include the city of Plattsburgh.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.
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BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
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