B.A.S.S. Reporter’s Notebook: Still riding high along Victory Lane; Horton jumps back to the sport’s early days

Category: press release

 Mar 5th, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Mar 5th, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Still riding high along Victory Lane: A Bassmaster Classic champ for one week now, Chris Lane is just beginning to understand what winning the title really means.

“There have been mornings this past week when I’ve woken up in complete awe,” Lane said Monday, back at home in Guntersville, Ala., after a string of appearances and media interviews. “Or I’ll be driving down the road, and suddenly it hits me: You just won the Bassmaster Classic.

“I don’t think it will sink in completely for a long, long time.”

The 36-year-old landed the Classic title and its $500,000 first prize Feb. 26 by a margin of 3 pounds, 7 ounces over runner-up Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala. Lane took control on the second day, then rode his lead through the final and third competition day of the world championship on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.

The Classic victory happened just five weeks after Lane won on the Harris Chain of Lakes in the season’s first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open. Two wins means that he is double qualified for the Bassmaster Classic of 2013 before the Bassmaster Elite Series season begins, a rare accomplishment.

The day he won the Classic, he was invited to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters for a round of interviews known as the “car wash.” His appearances on March 2 included Mike and Mike in the Morning, a SportsNation internet chat and SportsCenter.

“The Mike and Mike show was really neat, because those guys realize that bass fishing is truly a sport,” Lane related.

For SportsCenter, “I was a little nervous because I was sitting up there at a desk like one of those analysts, and I’m thinking, ‘Holy smokes, here we go.’ Then I hear ‘five, four, three, two, one – and you’re live.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my goodness, oh-kay!’ They asked me some pretty crazy questions, and I hope I answered them well. I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.”

Those who did catch the SportsCenter interview say that Lane fielded the questions thrown at him like, well, like the pro he is.

He was able to watch himself in one of the Bassmaster Classic television shows that aired last weekend on ESPN2. Lane said that when the footage of Paul Elias winning the 1982 Bassmaster Classic was shown, he thought again how he and his brothers, Bobby and Arnie, had seen Elias on TV.

“I remember that so well, the big-bearded guy winning the Bassmaster Classic, like it was yesterday. I don’t even know how many years ago that was, but it was a long time ago,” Lane said.

It was almost 30 years ago, in fact. Lane, born in July 1975, was 7 years old when he watched Elias win the 1982 Classic. It wasn’t a conversion moment: Lane was already hooked on bass fishing. His father and grandfather had been taking Lane and his brothers out for years on the various bass fisheries around his hometown of Lakeland, Fla. Lane guesses he was about 3 years old the first time he was handed a rod and reel.

Since then, fishing has been, as he puts it, “What we do,” and “Who we are.” He developed those concise explanations over the past week after being asked, again and again, why he is a pro angler.

The “we” is intentional. Fishing is a family affair for the Lanes. He and brother Bobby (who gave Chris a run for his money in the 2012 Classic) are successful Bassmaster Elite Series pros. Arnie has competed in many tournaments, including Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. Chris Lane’s wife and four children play critical supporting roles.

“They are my backbone. Without them, it doesn’t happen for me,” Lane said.

The newly crowned Classic champ has had little time to think about the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series, which will start its season on the St. Johns River out of Palatka, Fla., on March 15. After that event, the field will travel south to Lake Okeechobee for the March 21-25 Power-Pole Slam.

The St. Johns event won’t be like going home because the river was not a frequent destination when he lived in Florida. It’s that second stop in which Lane is a favorite to win. He owns two Open-level titles taken on Okeechobee.

But how does an angler top two big wins in two months? The answer came easy for Lane:

“Win an Elite event. I really, really want to do that. I want to compete at the highest level consistently, and I’m ready.”

Horton jumps back to the sport’s early days: In the 1960s and early 1970s, when big-time competitive bass fishing was an emerging sport, the fashion for anglers was short-sleeved, snug-fitting overalls that zipped up the front.

Like now, the pros of 30 to 40 years ago showcased their sponsors on their clothing. Back then, that meant sewing bulky embroidered patches onto a jumpsuit’s polyester fabric.

Fast-forward to 2012 at the Bassmaster Classic. When qualifier Tim Horton, 39, of Muscle Shoals, Ala., decided to pay tribute to the sport’s early days, he hit on the idea of appearing on stage wearing the out-of-fashion overgarment, complete with real patches.

Where does one find such a jumpsuit? Horton got some help on that.

“My wife found it at some farm clothing type shop,” he said.

He also got help from PRADCO, which sent some antique patches – Hula Popper, Arbogast, Smithwick, for example. Horton also contacted B.A.S.S. for photos of early anglers in jumpsuits.

The result was authentic. The Bassmaster Elite Series pro appeared in the suit on stage and obviously had fun doing it.

Horton finished the Classic in sixth place, taking most of his bass on a Booyah black-and-brown spinnerbait.

“To win it would have been phenomenal, but just to fish it was so much fun,” said Horton, who had returned to Classic competition after being out two years.

Texas fan wins dream trip with KVD
: Matt Landry of Houston, Texas, was the big winner in the recently concluded Fish With KVD sweepstakes at Bassmaster.com.

Landry will fish with Kevin VanDam in July in the Orlando, Fla., area. Landry’s prize included a Florida vacation with round-trip airfare, car rental, three days and three nights for two at an Orlando-area hotel, two one-day Walt Disney World Park passes and $500. The total estimated retail value of the prize package was $4,995.

‘Honey Badger’ Zaldain: Don’t let that wide, quick smile fool you: Chris Zaldain has adopted the honey badger as a sort of mascot for his 2012 season debut in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Indigenous to Africa, Southwest Asia and India, the honey badger has a rep as a fearless, take-what-it-wants forager. It will withstand hundreds of bee stings to get to a stash of honey. It will eat a cobra, venom and all. That’s the animal Zaldain, age 27, decided to depict on the back of his new boat wrap.

“That’s kind of my approach to the Elite Series, and how I am on the water,” Zaldain said.

Here’s an illustration of that: Zaldain recently returned from his best friend’s destination wedding in Roatan, a paradise island off the coast of Honduras. The wedding was probably great, but most people wouldn’t find that out by talking to Zaldain. He was all about the fishing.

One morning at daybreak, he paddled out about a mile from shore in a kayak. He was armed with a spinning outfit brought from home and a crab-imitation bait he bought in Roatan. He started hooking reef fish – a small barracuda or two, a few others. Then something big hit the lure.

“All of a sudden, a hundred yards of line peel off my reel. I didn’t know what it was, but I tried to chase it down. I had it on for 10 minutes before it got me caught up in a reef and broke me off,” he related.

A snapping shark? Probably not, but he’ll never know what he was prepared to pull aboard a small kayak. His best guess was that the fish was a 15- to 20-pound permit.

“I was a little ticked off I lost it. Whatever it is, I always want to get it in the boat,” he said.

The Elite Series rookie from San Jose, Calif., picked up his new boat in Texas last week and had it wrapped there. It’s a Skeeter FX20 powered by a 250 hp Yamaha V MAX SHO. The color scheme is a striking blue-and-white with matching blue twin Power-Poles. Skeeter gets top billing, along with Yamaha, Skinny Bear Bass Jigs, Top Shelf Swimbaits, Seaguar, Powell Rods, the web site of California retailer Hi’s Tackle Box (HisTackleBoxShop.com), Power-Pole, Basszone.com – and the before-mentioned honey badger.

Zaldain rigged his new boat himself. He installed the hot foot, electronics, Power-Poles and every other piece of equipment he wants to run this season. He used mechanical skills learned in his former career as a maintenance technician for a semi-conductor maker.

“If something fails out on the water, if you rigged the boat yourself, you can try to troubleshoot the problem,” he said. “You know exactly where to look, where your power sources are, etc. That means I am less likely to lose precious fishing time.”

Zaldain said he’ll team up this week with another rookie, Kevin Ledoux of Choctaw, Okla., to scout Toledo Bend, site of the Elite Series’ fifth stop in June, and work any kinks out of his new rig. Then the two rookies will caravan to Florida in time for the March 12-14 official practice for the season opener on the St. Johns River out of Palatka, Fla.

The California angler has never set foot in the state of Florida. He used the Internet to research the Elite Series’ Florida stops. His California Delta experience is going to help him, he said.

“We do nothing but shallow grass fishing on the Delta, and from what I hear, read and see, Florida is all shallow grass fishing,” Zaldain said. “And it’s tidal, although without the big tidal swing the Delta has. I think I’ll fit right in.”

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsor: BOOYAH, Carhartt, Lowrance, Luck “E” Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival


About B.A.S.S.

For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications – Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times – comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.



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