That, however, seems likely to change.
The young angler from Winter Haven , Fla., will make his debut this season as a CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series professional. He recently quit his job as a salesman to concentrate on a full-time fishing career, competing against the sport’s best in the new 11-event series that kicks off in March on Lake Amistad in south Texas.
But even with the start of the Elite Series season still more than a month away, Lane already is making a big splash.
In addition to competing in the Elite Series this season, Lane also is fishing in the new CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour circuit. And though the season is still young, Lane’s debut last week bodes well for his future.
Lane soared to victory at the inaugural Bassmaster Southern Tour event on Lake Okeechobee, posting a three-day total weight of 54 pounds, 12 ounces, to win more than $71,000 in cash and merchandise. His victory also was notable in that he got past perennial Florida powerhouse Terry Scroggins, a past BASS winner at Okeechobee who led Day 1, but finished second in last week’s event.
But don’t mistake Lane’s success for beginner’s luck. Though his past BASS experience is limited to CITGO Bassmaster Open and ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series events, his record speaks for itself. He has entered 14 BASS events and finished in the money 11 times, including a fifth-place finish at the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Toho in November and a second at the Bassmaster Series tournament on Toho in June. Lane also finished seventh in the 2004 Bassmaster Open Championship on the Ouachita River out of Monroe, La.
Spawning a Classic win?
For a change, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic will take place at the start of the fishing season this year, and with the event scheduled for the productive waters of Florida’s Lake Toho, many observers expect impressive catches.
Several factors fuel that speculation, but none more so than the timing of the world championship event.
The Bassmaster Classic will be held Feb. 24-26, which could coincide with bass spawning activities. If bass are actively spawning, the reasoning goes, the female fish will be at their egg-laden heaviest mass of the year. They’ll also be in shallow water, which could allow anglers to visibly find fish in shallow spawning areas.
Such was the case five years ago, when Texas pro Dean Rojas shattered the BASS tournament records for single-day and four-day tournament weight. Lake Toho’s bass moved up to spawn during the event, and Rojas capitalized on that timing to turn in one of the most impressive victories ever seen in BASS competition.
Could it happen again at the Bassmaster Classic this year?
“These fish spawn in Florida from December to March, so yeah, it’s possible,” said Florida pro Terry Scroggins, who has been tabbed a Classic favorite by many pundits.
According to Tim Coughlin, a fisheries biologist who works Toho and the rest of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Classic anglers will likely find bass in various stages of the spawn.
“There probably will be some pre-spawn fish, some that are actively spawning, and some post-spawn,” Coughlin said. “It depends on a lot of different factors. But if we continue to have warm weather, you could see a lot more spawning fish.”
The lunar cycle won’t be entirely cooperative. Many anglers say bass tend to move up to spawn with the full moon, and this month’s full moon will be mid-month. But new moons also can induce spawning moves. Another potential factor? With warm temperatures and a waxing moon, many Florida bass showed signs of beginning the spawn when a cold front drastically lowered air and water temperatures and forced many bass back into deeper water during the last full moon. With the persistence of warmer weather, those bass could make the move this month.
Reese at the Super Bowl
The approximately 90 million people watching the Super Bowl this Sunday will see ESPN’s first ever Super Bowl spot – and it includes BASS angler Skeet Reese of California.
The 60-second commercial, called Sports Heaven, follows a sports fan through the metaphorical experience of accessing sports news, information and highlights through Mobile ESPN, the first and only mobile phone service provider built from the ground up for sports fans, by sports fans.
Sports Heaven features more than 20 athletes representing every sport – from baseball and basketball to bowling and bass fishing. In it, Reese can be seen fishing in a pond.
At the end, the commercial says, “sports fans, your phone has arrived.” We say, Skeet, you have arrived.
The commercial will be available on ESPN.com, ESPN360 – the customized broadband service from ESPN – and Mobile ESPN beginning Sunday at 10 a.m.
Jeff Coble of Manson, N.C., will compete in his second CITGO Bassmaster Classic. He made it into the Classic by winning the inaugural ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship two weeks ago on East Lake Toho.
Winning the Classic is the dream of most competitive anglers for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the $500,000 winner’s check, the chance for residual earnings and the potential to solidify one’s career as a pro angler.
But Coble is a little different. While he’d relish the cold cash that comes with winning, he has no aspirations to compete as a full-time pro angler.
“I love my job, and I have no desire to fish for a living,” said Coble, a Triton boat salesman. “I’d love to win the Classic, but it wouldn’t make me change my mind about fishing for a living.”
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
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.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-800-BASS-USA or visit www.bassmaster.com.