THIS CLASSIC CHAMP MADE HIS OWN LANE
Updated: Jan 27
If you lived in Lakeland FL in the late 80’s and 90’s, it is likely you ran across the Lane boys- Arnie, Bobby, and Chris- the youngster- three brothers born within a 32 month period, and where athletic brothers are, competition will follow. Their childhood was a series of daily contests- “pool, cards, golf, fishing, you name it,” said Chris. From as early as Chris can remember, there were family fishing tournaments- which is to say, every outing with grandfather, dad and the lads was a competition. Chris recalls, on any given day it could be any of the three that had the most, or the biggest fish. Not one of them would admit openly to being the best of the bunch, but down inside where the competitive spirit is fueled, that’s a different story, and right now, amongst them there is only one Classic Champion. In public, that champ still says Bobby and Arnie (who clearly has the lowest golf handicap) are both very good fishermen. Arnie elected to work in the family business in sales of polyurethane/rubber lining. He still fuels his competitive fishing spirit at the Bassmaster Southern Opens. Bobby’s great career is a story for another day.
Like many younger siblings, Chris says he was more of an adventurer- the risk taker. That has clearly translated in a successful fishing career. He got his tournament start with organizations like Lakeland Bassmasters and Tampa Bay Bassmasters. Since beginning his pro career in 2000, Chris rang up 8 wins, including the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, 39 Top 10’s, and 54 Top 20’s, for an impressive $2,255,214 in career winnings (combined B.A.S.S/MLF/FLW). That’s a long way from just trying to earn a paycheck. He says that taking risks helped him develop maturity and experience to know when to take risks, and when not to. This has helped him differentiate between what it takes to do something extraordinary, and knowing a bad idea when it pops into his head. “Fans remember the guy who wins, they don’t remember the guy who took a big risk and finished last.”
Before getting into professional fishing full time, Chris worked an outside sales job in the phosphate industry in Central Florida, but as fishing took center stage, Chris left Florida for another bass-rich area- Guntersville, Alabama. He had grown up with bass lakes all around him, and when he realized he had the skills to make money doing what he loved, there was no holding him back. His first big win came in 2006 at the Bassmaster Southern Open on- no surprise really- Lake Okeechobee. That event really opened up his career to sponsorship opportunity, which was further enhanced by his Classic win. Perhaps more important however, was the confidence it gave him knowing he could beat the best. He has repeated on Okeechobee, and also won on the Harris Chain and Guntersville, proving there’s nothing like homefield advantage.
Like others who preceded him, for Chris, winning the Classic was a penultimate experience that transformed him from a good pro to a true ambassador for the sport of Bass Fishing. Since that event, he has represented the sport at the highest level, making time to give back to the community. He is very passionate about hosting an annual kids fishing camp called Reeling in the Pros held on Lake Guntersville. He is also an Angel Angler conducting hospital visits during the tour season as well as the offseason. His move from B.A.S.S. was one he really pondered. In the end, he considered the media coverage of Major League Fishing as a commitments to his
sponsors and an opportunity to promote their products. He also views the live score tracker format as being a commitment to the future of our fisheries. “We can catch a ten pounder off a bed and release her immediately back to the bed unharmed. That is a big deal.”
All fishermen, even those that have left the B.A.S.S. fold, will tell you the Classic is THE THING. Hoisting that trophy separates you from every other angler who has not won it. Lane understands that winning the Classic, in his case for a second time, is something that’s sticks in your mind all year long. Without hesitation Chris says another Classic win is one of the main goals for himself, his family, and his sponsors- pretty much everyone associated with his career.
When he thinks of his win, the look in his eyes says that there was nothing like it. He remembers every minute of those Classic tournament days, every fish caught, every fish lost and the conditions and choices he made surrounding each one. It was the Red River, Shreveport, Louisiana, the year, 2012……. His most memorable fish was the third one caught on Day 3. She
weighed a little over 6 pounds. He had been “wrestling” Greg Vinson, Keith Poche, and former Classic winner Alton Jones for three days. When he had that fish in his hand, he knew deep down that he had a good chance. The intelligent risk taker knew that he had to seize the moment and take advantage of it. That fish was key, so important to his confidence that he had a replica made. The Classic has made other lasting memories for Chris. His first time making the field, both he and Bobby qualified- the first time in 28 years that siblings had qualified and were competing. But not all Classics were pain free. The year following his big win, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Chris completed his first Day as the reigning champion without a fish. That hurt.
Family gives Chris great joy, and any time he can spend at him in Guntersville with wife Holly and kids Cal, Hunter, Hannah, and Coleman is precious. Cal is starting his own fishing career having completed the Toyota Series, qualifying for its Championship, and finishing sixth. He is fishing the Pro Circuit as his schedule allows. When not fishing with his family, he loves to cook for them. Wonder what Chris will have cooking on the Bass Pro Tour in 2022?