OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Fish a tournament in Florida, and there are three names to watch, no matter the lake, season or weather: Chris Lane, Bobby Lane and Terry Scroggins. True to form, they finished one, two, three at the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Okeechobee this week.
Chris Lane picked up his second BASS tournament victory and second at the Big O with 41 pounds, 2 ounces over three days. He also won the Southern Open here four years ago. Not so ironically, Scroggins finished second. Bobby did not fish that one.
But Chris’ day didn’t start so well. He and brother Bobby were staying at the same place and had parked side by side. When Bobby left for launch, a few minutes before Chris, he accidentally hit the driver-side door of Chris’ truck with his boat trailer.
“My boat wasn’t going anywhere,” Bobby said, “so I stepped on the gas. Then I heard a terrible cracking sound.”
It was the sound of a truck door being nearly ripped from the frame. It had to seem a very bad omen to Chris. Fortunately, he didn’t let it get him down. Once on the water, things settled in, and he found a strong bite on a Gambler Cane Toad.
“I was making long casts with the Toad and my Double Trouble Toad hook,” Chris said. “A steady, medium retrieve seemed to get the most bites.”
In cool weather such as dominated this part of Florida for the past couple of weeks, topwater strikes on baits like the Cane Toad can result in lots of missed fish. Even a topwater guru like Chris Lane will miss some bass, and the final round was no exception.
“I missed an 8 pounder, a 6 pounder and two 5-pound fish,” Chris said, “but I didn’t let it get me down. You have to have mental toughness to be a tournament angler and to fish baits like these. Luckily, the right hook made a big difference, and I was able to land most of my strikes.”
Another key, according to Chris, is to have patterned enough bass that missing one or two doesn’t cost you the tournament.The winner was also quick to credit his sponsors and the products that helped him to the win. He noted that his Power Poles helped him to stay in the best areas without risking spooking the fish with an electric motor. His Legend boat, Mercury outboard and Atlas jackplate got him in and out of heavy vegetation without incident, where he found his bass.
Chris cast the Cane Toad on an All Star rod and Abu Garcia Revo baitcasting reel spooled with 50-pound-test Stren SuperBraid.
When his brother, Bobby, wasn’t tearing truck doors off the frame, the Elite Series pro was busy catching Okeechobee bass by flipping a black and blue Berkley Crazy Legs Chigger Craw or swimming a 3-inch Berkley Ripple Shad swimbait. He fished them on SpiderWire braid and SpiderWire Ultracast lines, respectively, spooled onto Abu Garcia Revos. Bobby finished with 38-1, three pounds and an ounce behind his brother.
Terry “Big Show” Scroggins used two patterns for his third-place finish (37-9). He flipped a Yum Big Show Craw in black and blue or cooter brown on 65-pound test High Seas braid and a 7 1/2-foot Duckett Fishing Micro Magic flipping stick. He also caught bass on the outside edge of eelgrass and hydrilla by Carolina rigging a junebug Yum Houdini Worm behind a 3/4-ounce Excalibur sinker rigged on 20-pound High Seas fluorocarbon line and a 7-foot Duckett Fishing Micro Magic rod.
Randall Tharp, who led the tournament going into the final round, fell to fourth with 32-8 after mechanical problems cost him part of his fishing day. Tharp won the two previous Bassmaster Opens he fished.
Elite Series pro Russ Lane had the big bass of Day 3 with a 6-0 lunker.
On the co-angler side, Blake Stewart brought three fishing weighing 4-9 to the scales in the final round to give him a total of 16-10. It was enough to beat second round leader Aaron Gengler by six ounces.
Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Opens: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.
For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media 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 and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.
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.