If there were any questions that the Bass Pro Tour scoring change to a five-fish limit would be less exciting than the every-fish-counts format, Power-Pole pro Chris Lane of Guntersville, Alabama, showed the world the answer, Saturday. In the most dramatic finish in Major League Fishing (MLF) history, Lane boated a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass with just 40 seconds remaining in the event to overtake B&W Trailer Hitches pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, and win the season-opening Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns. Lane’s two-day total of 10 bass weighing 49 pounds, 3 ounces, earned him the win by a 9-ounce margin over Davis, who had led the entire day, and earned him the top payout of $100,000.
“Holy smokes, I can’t believe it,” an emotional Lane said in his post-game interview. “I don’t know what to say. This is unbelievable. What an ending. To do it here, where I grew up… man. This is where I cut my teeth, where I learned how to fish. Right over there is Brahma Island. Where I fished with my brothers. My dad. My grandpa. My gosh, I don’t know how we did it. This has been one amazing, amazing event.”
Lane’s improbable rally from starting the day 12-8 behind Davis became a reality late in the day. With an hour and 15 minutes left in the third and final period he boated a 4-pound, 5-ouncer, then added a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass to move within 14 ounces of Davis in the final hour. Lane needed to catch a 4-pound, 12-ounce bass to gain enough weight to catch Davis, and with one minute remaining he hooked up.
“With five minutes left I made the decision to come back to this spot, where I had caught a 6-8 earlier in the day,” Lane said. “I was super quiet, eased up and Power-Poled down, then threw that black and blue Bass Pro Shops Stick O out there.
“I knew it could be done with just one swing of the rod,” Lane continued. “I kept telling myself that – ‘one swing of the rod, just one swing.’ When she bit and I swung that rod, I saw it jump and I didn’t think it was big enough. I thought I needed a 7- or 8-pounder. When my official kept telling me congratulations, I didn’t believe him at first.”
The Championship Round appearance was Lane’s first career Championship Round on the Bass Pro Tour.
“Knowing the score, and knowing what you have to catch – it makes you fish so intensely until the very end,” Lane said. “If you watched the process of this event, the wind has done a full circle – from north, to east, to south, to west. Every day was different. It was a lot of new water, and I really just tried to go with the conditions. Knowing the lake like I do down there in Kissimmee, I was able to just pull up to a stop and if they’re not biting there then I’m off to something else.
“I still just can’t believe how this all played out,” Lane went on to say. “It has been an absolutely epic week. This is one of, if not the most memorable tournament that I think I will ever have.”
The top 10 pros from the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns finished:
1st: Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 49-3, $100,000
2nd: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 10 bass, 48-10, $45,000
3rd: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 10 bass, 45-13, $38,000
4th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 10 bass, 43-15, $32,000
5th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 42-6, $30,000
6th: Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 36-10, $26,000
7th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 36-0, $23,000
8th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 10 bass, 32-8, $21,000
9th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 28-9, $19,000
10th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., seven bass, 23-10, $16,000
Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.