Chris Lane will be the first to admit that his 2017 competition year was, to put it kindly, lackluster.
“No, get it right: I just sucked last year,” Lane jokes as he relaxes in the hotel lobby the day before his Elimination Round in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
By the numbers, it was admittedly a very un-Lane-like year, to be sure: 95th in Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year standings with 360 points, three finishes in the 100s, and only three checks cashed in 10 events.
He started the year abysmally by going 105th, 103rd, 100th and 98th at Lake Cherokee, Lake Okeechobee, Toledo Bend and Ross Barnett Lake, respectively. By the time he made his first 50 cut of the year (at Texas Fest on Lake Sam Rayburn at the halfway point of the regular season), Lane already found himself in such a monumental hole in the AOY points race that a 2018 Bassmaster Classic berth was almost a mathematical impossibility.
Frustrating territory for a seven-time B.A.S.S. winner and the 2012 Classic champion.
“You have to have a certain mindset to go out and fish for 18 pounds a day, just aiming to keep yourself in the hunt,” Lane says. “There’s a totally different mindset when you’re thinking ’25, 25, 25, 25’, and that’s exactly how I fished almost the entire year. I missed fish that cost me making the cut in almost every event. I had the fish to make three Top 12s! It got to a point where I was second-guessing myself: ‘Should I just fish for 13 pounds today and not go for the gusto?’, but that’s not how I like to fish.”
Lane ended the season on the upswing, though, making the Top 50 cut in two of his last three tournaments, including his 28th career Top 10 with a 10th place finish at Lake Champlain.
“I have enough maturity in the sport of bass fishing to not be satisfied with just getting by,” he says. “Did I learn some things last year? You bet I did: I learned that I don’t like being ‘middle of the road’ or without a chance to win. I’m not going to make any promises, but I darn sure don’t plan on having two years in a row like that.”