Ultimate Bass

Bobby Lane leads Day1 Elite Series

In a reversal of fortune, Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., finally took advantage of a hot Kentucky Lake bite, totaling 29 pounds, 14 ounces, Wednesday, which was enough to open up a one-plus pound advantage over four-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo.

In a reversal of fortune, Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., finally took advantage of a hot Kentucky Lake bite, totaling 29 pounds, 14 ounces, Wednesday, which was enough to open up a one-plus pound advantage over four-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., at the SpongeTech Tennessee Triumph. Lane, something of a shallow-water specialist, ditched the banks and targeted the ledges, home to the heaviest bass on Kentucky.

After narrowly missing a top-50 finish and subsequent check at the Kentucky Lake Elite event in 2008 and a poor finish on another tournament circuit at Kentucky in 2007, Lane was starting to feel snake bitten here. But the Elite Series is all about adjustments and Lane, despite his strong inclination to stick to the shallows, picked apart the numerous ledges Wednesday.

“I’m no expert, but I know enough to put my time in and hit as many ledges as possible here,” said Lane, 35. “I’m a bank beater from Florida and it took everything in me to stay away from the shallow stuff, but I’m really learning a lot this week.”

While Lane is in the driver’s seat this week for the $100,000 top prize, with just three regular-season events remaining, many of the pros have their eyes on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. Those standings are the main avenue into the 2010 Bassmaster Classic (Feb. 19-21; Lay Lake; Birmingham, Ala.) and the only way into the inaugural Bassmaster Elite Series postseason, the Toyota Trucks Championship Week, which will be played out on Alabama’s Lake Jordan and Alabama River on Sept. 10-18 and feature the top 12 anglers.

Of course, to noone’s surprise, VanDam was leading the AOY pack – albeit by a mere five points – heading into Kentucky. He looks on his way to maintaining his lead with another solid Kentucky finish. But just like Tiger Woods has Phil Mickleson on the PGA Tour, 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese is always around to keep VanDam honest. Reese, second in the AOY points heading into Kentucky, continued his solid run Wednesday and is sixth.

Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the Tennessee Triumph on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, June 13, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The daily weigh-ins for all regular-season Elite events and the two postseason events will air live on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, while a wealth of unique content will also be available at Bassmaster.com.

Lane, 31st in the AOY standings, didn’t have the best practice and all indications pointed to another poor showing on Kentucky this week. But a slow approach and a devotion to the pattern allowed Lane to get off to a quick start, which included a 7-pound, 15-ounce lunker. Early in his competition day, he was able to visit three productive spots, pulling big fish off of each.

Lane accumulated all of his weight by Noon and spent some of his day looking for new, productive areas before eventually heading to the weigh-in site early to eliminate any pratfalls that seem to strike Lane on this spacious fishery.

In contrast to Lane’s Kentucky struggles, VanDam has flat-out dominated here. In 2008, the two-time Classic winner scored victory at Kentucky and in 2006, he finished third. On Wednesday, VanDam boated 28 pounds, 11 ounces, all on a Strike King crankbait in Sexy Shad color, the same lure he rode to victory in 2008.

His bag was buoyed by two fish weighing more than 7 pounds. Like most in the field, numbers weren’t the problem for VanDam. Instead, it was a battle to weed through the abundance of smaller fish on Kentucky in order to find the bigger bass.

Like Lane, VanDam targeted schooling fish grouped around the ledges. He fished at a variety of depths landing fish anywhere from 3 to 30 feet of water. Despite a strong Wednesday, VanDam was less optimistic than usual about his chances, citing the strong boat traffic on Kentucky set for the next three days as a potential hindrance.

“There are some spots where you can practically catch them every cast but it’s all about location when you are trying to find the bigger ones,” said VanDam, 41. “It’s important to realize that this is a four-day tournament and it can’t be won or lost with one day.”

Rounding out the top five was Byron Velvick of Del Rio, Texas, with 27-6 in third; Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., in fourth with 26-2 and Rick Morris of Lake Gaston, Va., with 26-0. Full tournament standings can be found below.

Kentucky Lake has hosted 10 previous BASS events. Straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border, Kentucky Lake is 185 miles in length, with 160,000 surface acres and 2,380 miles of shoreline. Lake Barkley, a navigable canal, adds another 80,000 surface acres.

In the 2008 event on Kentucky Lake, VanDam totaled 84 pounds, 13 ounces, courtesy of a variety of lures, including jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. His most productive lure was what would become the trademark in his march to the 2008 Angler of the Year title: a Strike King Series 6 in sexy shad color.

The top 12 pros in the AOY standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the inaugural Bassmaster Elite Series postseason, when the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be determined. Toyota Trucks Championship Week is set for Sept. 10-18, and will be played out on two productive Alabama fisheries. The first of the two post-season tournaments will take place on Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka; the finale, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, is slated for the Alabama River from Montgomery.

Fans are encouraged to attend the Wednesday-Saturday daily launches (6 a.m. CT) and weigh-ins (4 p.m.) at Paris Landing State Park, 16055 Hwy. 79 N., Buchanan, Tenn. After Day Two’s competition

Thursday, the field will be cut to the top 50 anglers for Day Three. Only the top 12 will go on to compete in Saturday’s Day Four.

Other activities Friday and Saturday at the Tennessee Triumph will begin at 1 p.m. CT at Paris Landing State Park, featuring the popular Dog Training & Retriever Demonstrations Brought To You By SportDog, as well as a live concert by Nashville recording artist Greta Gaines on Friday, June 5, at the conclusion of the day’s weigh-in. At 1:30 p.m. Friday, fans are invited to experience Bassmaster University, which includes the “Ask the Experts” session with Elite pros at 3 p.m.

Saturday’s activities include the live taping of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. The show, which will air live at 3:30 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com, will preview Sunday’s final weigh-in.

All events at the SpongeTech Tennessee Triumph are free and open to the public. Up next for the Elite Series is the June 11-14 Genuity River Rumble on the Mississippi River out of Fort Madison, Iowa.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNOutdoorsmedia.com for BASS’ latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos and more.

The local sponsor of the Tennessee Triumph is the Paris-Henry County Alliance. Official sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards.

Supporting sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Bass Pro Shops, Costa Del Mar, Ramada, SpongeTech and Triton Boats.


Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Bobby Lane Lakeland, FL 5 29-14 305
Day 1: 5 29-14

2. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, MI 5 28-11 295
Day 1: 5 28-11

3. Byron Velvick Del Rio, TX 5 27-06 290
Day 1: 5 27-06

4. Russ Lane Prattville, AL 5 26-02 285
Day 1: 5 26-02

5. Rick Morris Lake Gaston, VA 5 26-00 280
Day 1: 5 26-00

6. Skeet Reese Auburn, CA 5 25-15 276
Day 1: 5 25-15

7. Jeff Connella Bentley, LA 5 24-04 272
Day 1: 5 24-04

8. Shaw E Grigsby Gainesville, FL 5 24-03 268
Day 1: 5 24-03

9. Fred Roumbanis Bixby, OK 5 23-07 264
Day 1: 5 23-07

10. Jeff Kriet Ardmore, OK 5 23-07 260
Day 1: 5 23-07

About BASS For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multimedia platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS annually sanctions more than 20,000 events.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla. Media Contact: Doug Grassian; (407) 566-2216 or doug.grassian@espn.com

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