As a Jack Link’s Major League Fishing champion, some folks like to call Florida angler Bobby Lane by a certain nickname: Big Fish Bobby Lane.
And after you take a look at Lane’s fishing resume, why not? After all, he’s the 2016 MLF Challenge Cup champion after claiming his career’s biggest triumph in Lake County, Fla.
What’s more, he has one B.A.S.S. triumph – the 2009 Tennessee Triumph Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake – to go along with six runner-up finishes, two third place finishes, 30 “Top 10” finishes, 52 “Top 20” finishes and 66 “Top 30” finishes.
All in 115 tournaments, mind you, events where Lane has pocketed more than $1.1 million in career earnings in only half the time that it has taken others to get to that coveted mark.
But that only tells a part of the Bobby Lane story when you consider that he burst onto the professional angling scene back in 2008 by placing fourth in his first ever Bassmaster Classic (he’s now qualified for nine Classics in his decade of professional fishing).
Before that year was out, he’d add a third place and seventh place finish to the first year resume, putting himself into position to win the B.A.S.S. Rookie of the Year title.
With two FLW circuit wins on the EverStart series, a Forrest Wood Cup FLW Tour championship appearance and a triumph in a PAA team event, there’s little doubt that the talented Florida pro knows how to catch bass, how to compete and how to win at pro fishing’s highest level.
With such successes under his belt – and with earlier round performances here this week as the MLF Summit Cup unfolds in and around Grand Rapids, Minn. – Lane has plenty of experience to fall back on.
And that’s something that he hopes to do this week as he seeks to become the first angler in MLF history to win back-to-back titles.
“Well, you hope so, but then again, you don’t want to get caught up in something (that will backfire on you),” he said.
Although he has the extra motivation of fishing against his brother MLF GEICO Select pro and 2012 Classic champ Chris Lane, Bobby notes that there’s very little comfort level to find in MLF events thanks to the unknown fisheries and almost constant change in venues that the circuit’s pros face each day.
“What worked in one lake might not work in the next,” Lane said.
“Am I (usually) going to try what worked earlier in the week?,” he added. “Absolutely. But am I opened minded (about what I’m finding each day)? Of course. I have to be.”
While getting through an Elimination Round at a MLF event is tough enough, Lane says that getting through the Sudden Death Round is usually even tougher.
Why? Because in that round, he says that there are always a few “hammers” that have survived and advanced.
And then in the Championship Round? Well, that’s probably the toughest round of all in Lane’s mind.
“You have to be able to catch fish, whether it’s one-pounders, two-pounders, four-pounders, or whatever it is,” he said.
The key in this Florida pro’s mind is to figure out what the fish are doing on a given day, to fish clean (not make any mistakes or lose any fish) as the day progresses and either advance to the next round or come away with the day’s triumph.
“You want to keep yourself in the game,” Lane said. “You don’t want to be 20 lbs. back and trying to scrape it (together to get by). (Especially) when we’re on a lake like (these) up here (in Grand Rapids) that are loaded with fish.”
While that might seem like it’s a blessing in many ways, it can also be a curse.
“(Yeah), that’s the problem,” said Lane. “You can catch four (bass) in a row (but so can someone else.)”
That being said, Lane is very confident this week in Minnesota as he seeks to add another big MLF trophy to the one he won back home in Florida.
If he can do so, he’ll gain another MLF distinction in becoming the only angler that would have both a MLF Summit Cup triumph and a MLF Challenge Cup title (two-time MLF champ Kevin VanDam has won two Summit Cup titles while two-time MLF champ Edwin Evers has won two Challenge Cup titles).
“I want to be the first defending champion to win back-to-back events,” admitted Lane.
“I figure that we’ll throw that (accolade) in with my getting the biggest bass record in Major League Fishing (an 8-pound, 5-ounce fish caught at the 2015 Challenge Cup in Shreveport/Bossier City, La.) and my brother (Chris) now being in Major League Fishing.
“There are a lot of goals (here this week) and I’d like to meet a few more (of them).”
“You’ve got to put (your foot on) the gas and go,” Lane said. “There has been an early morning bite (in previous rounds here), then it peters off. I feel like I know what to do in the afternoon if the bite does slow down, but my goal is to catch them early and stay on them all day.”
Just like he did in Florida en route to his first MLF triumph.
Because for Big Fish Bobby Lane, there’s only one idea to embrace in any tournament that he finds himself fishing in, whether that’s in the North Country or way down south.
And that’s go big to win a coveted fishing championship.
Or to go home, hungry for even more.