GROVE, Okla. – It was hard to keep up with the action in one of the most dramatic finishes in Major League Fishing history. REDCREST 2022 Presented by Costa was one for the ages.
The suspense never waned throughout the Championship Round with numerous lead changes and nobody running away with the win as the weights remained close all day. Several anglers made big runs at various points, and it became clear that whoever had their hot streak last would take home the trophy.
The group of Bobby Lane, Luke Clausen, Jacob Wheeler, and Dustin Connell battled it out at the end and Lane came out on top as the 2022 REDCREST Champion after catching 10 bass for 29 pounds, 14 ounces.
Before Lane’s triumph, a dizzying array of catches came across SCORETRACKER® late in the game with the lead held by four anglers during the third period. It was set up to be a showdown between the anglers using forward-facing sonar, Wheeler and Connell, and the anglers casting to shallow targets without relying on their electronics, Lane and Clausen.
Clausen began the period with the lead before Connell took control. Then came Wheeler, who held the lead for more than an hour. Lane then caught a 2-0 with less than three minutes to go. Clausen then added a 4-2 mere seconds later.
But, when the clock stopped and the waters calmed on Grand Lake, Lane prevailed for the biggest win of his career.
Lane has had a stellar career with a Major League Fishing World Championship, MLF Cup titles, and a Bassmaster Elite Series win, but this is now easily his most significant achievement. He’s also been very close to more wins, including some heartbreakers last year.
“It’s a big monkey off of my back, and I’ve fought the battle for a long time to win a big one again,” he said. “Last year, Wheeler beat me by 2 ounces on Lake Travis and that was running through my mind today. Those demons are behind me, and I’m finally standing here as the REDCREST Champion.”
During the week, Lane quietly had success each day of fishing. He began the tournament with a sixth-place standing after catching eight bass for 26-12, then added four for 9-9 the next day. In his group’s Knockout Round, he tallied 27-13 on nine fish to make it to Championship Sunday.
He relied on a Berkley Frittside 5 in the HD brown color all week, focusing on the last rock structure in the backs of pockets as bass moved their way towards spawning grounds. That’s what got him to the final day, but pitching a jig is what won it for him.
“The fish made a transition late this afternoon and got super shallow,” he said. “I knew that and made every single one count and started flipping a green pumpkin jig with a matching Berkley PowerBait Meaty Chunk in the smaller size and added some chartreuse dye to the tips of the trailer.”
Lane caught two bass early on the crankbait, and just after noon he caught his first bass on a jig and went to work with it from there. Included in his catch was the Berkley Big Bass of the day, a 6-3 that he landed in dramatic fashion over and through several dock cables.
“I had a 3-11 and 6-3 within three minutes,” Lane said. “The big one had me between cables and there was no physical way to get it, and I had to hand line it in. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Lane’s REDCREST winning bass was also his smallest of the day, a 2-0 that he weighed three times. Major League Fishing rules allow an angler two opportunities for a re-weigh, with the last chance being official. After two consecutive 1-15 readings, it registered at 2-0 and with minutes to spare, Lane took the lead for good.
After having some time to reflect on his win during the limo ride to the REDCREST Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Costa, Lane was emotional when meeting up with his family and brother Chris Lane and felt like someone had lifted a weight off of his shoulders.
“I’m not getting any younger, I promise,” he said. “But, today I felt like a 10-year-old winging my bait around and to finally come through to win; it’s just unbelievable. Everything went perfect today.”
Washington’s Clausen briefly believed that the REDCREST title was in his grasp, but Lane’s catch just moments before had yet to register on SCORETRACKER®.
“It’s gut-wrenching and deflating,” Clausen said. “To work hard all day, not catch one in the first period and then to be leading after the second period is the ultimate highs and lows of this game. I fell to third and thought I needed a miracle to get a 3-11 to pass Wheeler, and I caught a 4-2, but Bobby caught his at the same time. It went from the most exciting highs to the most defeated lows in one moment. I would have rather lost by 10 pounds.”
Even with the defeat, Clausen was happy to have the finish he had.
“I was fortunate to finish where I did because I fished new water every day,” he said. “Each day was something different, I just had to keep moving to find more areas, so I have to be happy with my performance overall.”