Chris Lane connected with four 4- to 5-pounders in the first period on the way to the heaviest weight on Day 1. Photo by Garrick Dixon
By Tyler Brinks - February 7, 2020
EUFAULA, Ala. – Coming into the Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Power-Pole, the weather was the story in Eufaula, Alabama. Rain, winds and lightning have pummeled the surrounding areas hard over the past few days.
The result of the inclement weather was rising lake levels and muddy water conditions. Add in a cold front, and you had some challenging situations to kick off the 2020 season.
Overall, it was a tough bite, but many big bass were weighed by MLF officials, including an early flurry by Chris Lane, who stayed at the top of the standings for every minute of the day.
Lane struck first with a 3-pound, 11-ounce largemouth at 8:09 a.m., the first scorable bass of the Bass Pro Tour season, and he never looked back during Group A’s first Qualifying Day.
Lane started strong, and by the end of Period 1, the Power-Pole pro had eight fish for 33-9, a more than 4-pound average. Included in his total were fish that weighed 5-11 and 5-7.
As you can imagine, Lane was ecstatic with his start to the season: “That was a great first period, one you dream of,” he said.
While Lane’s primary area produced well for him early, he was just as excited about what he found later during Period 3.
“I found an area late in the day with some clear water, and I made the mistake of not going there soon enough in the day,” he admitted. “I’m looking forward to getting back there (for his next qualifying day).”
Can he do it again? Lane thinks so.
“It could happen,” Lane shared. “I know I’ll be more relaxed with a little bit of a lead.”
His final total for the day was nine bass for 35-12.
Bertrand Stays Steady
While Josh Bertrand didn’t have the morning flurry like the anglers in the Top 5, he was sitting in second place when time expired. He ended the day with seven bass for 26-6, including a 6-10.
Going into the first day of the season, Bertrand didn’t know what to expect.
“We had the worst possible conditions because of the front that came through, and I was gunning for five to 10 bites,” he said. “I was able to get right in between those, so feel pretty good about that.”
Besides his 6-10, he also boated two more over 4 pounds, and that has him excited for the rest of the week.
“It seems like every other fish you catch here is over 4 pounds and that doesn’t matter how you’re fishing; that’s what lives here,” he said. “We have some decent weather coming, so it might bust wide open.”
Fishing near Lane throughout the morning, Todd Faircloth had a great Period 1, with several quality bites.
Like Lane, Faircloth went scoreless during the entirety of Period 2, but still ended up with six fish for 25-13. That weight was buoyed by a trio of 5-pound fish in the first period.
Many MLF fans have been eagerly awaiting the Bass Pro Tour debut of Bryan Thrift. After a long and storied career with FLW, he made his first cast as an MLF angler this morning.
Thrift made his presence known with a solid day that included seven bass for 19-11 to put him in fourth place.
Group B will make their season debuts tomorrow. The weather forecast is calling for slightly warmer weather with scattered showers throughout the day.
The Berkley Big Bass of the day was Brandon Coulter’s 7-14 largemouth.
How, When, Where to Watch
Watch all three periods of competition on the MLF NOW! live stream, beginning at 7:45 a.m CST on February 7-12, 2020. Watch for FREE on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app, or the MyOutdoorTV app.
The General Tire Takeout begins at approximately 4 p.m. CST after each day of competition.