BASS Reporter's Notebook


The Monday morning after his Jan. 16 Bassmaster Southern Open victory on Florida's Lake Okeechobee, Chris Lane was back home in Guntersville, Ala. With one hand, he was minding his 3-year-old. With the other, he was taking phone calls from media for interview requests, all the while trying to nail down the tasks a person leaves undone before going out of town.

It was a hectic, stressful and, all in all, wonderful morning.

"Man, I feel like the weight of the world's been lifted off my shoulders," said the newest Bassmaster Open champ, who took home more than $51,000. "I feel really good, and really hungry to get another win."

Hungry, maybe, but thirsty no more. Although he is an established Bassmaster Elite Series pro with top-name sponsors, and could claim 17 top-20 BASS career finishes before last week's win, Lane's victory this past weekend was a welcome break in a long dry spell  his last Open win had been in 2006, when he also won at Okeechobee.

And no way was his elation all about the paycheck. "The financial part of it was good, but that was a loaded field down there, so it was very much a confidence booster," he said.

By "loaded," he meant large; the pro side of the roster had 199 entrants. "The money makes it a little bit easier to fish the coming season, but I'm more of the attitude that I want another one, I want an Elite win, I want to make the Classic again, I want to have a good year for all of my sponsors and for myself and for my family."

Okeechobee conditions stumped many in the Open field, but Lane took to the water like he was at home — which, in a way, he was. He not only won on the Big O in 2006, he's a Florida native who has fished the lake many times. He has, in fact, fished just about every other body of water in the Sunshine State too.

"I tell you what, that lake (Okeechobee) is on fire. It's absolutely beautiful," said Lane, who moved from his native Florida to northern Alabama in 2009. "It felt good to go back down there and get back to my roots and fish the strengths I grew up fishing."

Chris Lane said that after finishing in 16th place on Day One, his most ambitious hope for the Big O event was a top-five. But when he came on strong the second day — with 17 pounds, 12 ounces — and moved into second place, he felt he had a chance. He took the win with 41 pounds, 2 ounces.

His brother and fellow Elite pro, Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., was one of Chris' top challengers for the trophy. Bobby finished in second place, about 3 pounds behind.

So did the brothers share intelligence to tie up first- and second-place honors? (It's perfectly within tournament rules to do so.)

"We get asked that question a lot," Chris said. "We don't really work together as far as spots. I think that would end up hurting us in the long run because we fish so much alike. We get together on conditions, what they're biting on, things like that."

The brothers not only draw the line at sharing spots (where to fish)  they definitely do not share paychecks, Chris said.


Bassmaster Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., could begin the tale of his most recent offshore adventure with this teaser: We hoisted the 100-pound yellowfin on board just before the boat ran out of gas. We were 20 miles off the Mexican coast and the sea was kicking up.

Roumbanis grew up in the San Francisco Bay area of California, where he cut his fishing teeth on salmon, halibut, striper and other saltwater species. About three years ago, Roumbanis moved to Oklahoma to be more centrally located for BASS tournament travel, but it's no surprise that he likes salt on his fishing now and again.

His latest offshore story began on a business trip last December to Mexico, where he, Micke Tuck and James Huffmon, booked a one-day trip on a 24-foot charter manned by a captain and one deckhand.

Waiting for action from the big rods rigged from the stern, the three anglers took turns at the bow, tossing a 1-pound plug rigged on a spinning rod spooled with 20-pound line.

Tuck got a hit at about 4:45 p.m., but he missed the fish. He quickly reeled in and cast the heavy plug again. The fish went for it, and Tuck was ready with a solid hook-set. They could see it was a yellowfin tuna.

"Tuck fought it for a good hour-and-a-half, then handed the rod over to me out of exhaustion, and I fought it for another hour-and-a-half," Roumbanis said. "A fish that size on a spinning rod, on 20-pound line, is an experience. We finally landed it. By then, the stars were out, and it was almost dark — about 8 o'clock. We started to head in. That's when we ran out of fuel."

Roumbanis said the boat captain called for help. He made contact with a fisherman out in a panga gathering baitfish. All they could do was hope they'd be visible in the heaving swells of the ocean, and pray that the unusually rough conditions wouldn't get worse.

"It wasn't like we were just floating in calm water, waiting for this guy to find us," he said. "The water was super rough. I know enough about the sea to know it wasn't a safe situation."

The panga found them hours later. After fueling the tanks with a scant four gallons of gas, the charter headed in. They docked at about 2:30 a.m.

Roumbanis said that even without the three-hour tuna fight, the boat probably would have run out of fuel on the return because they were at least 20 miles out. Obviously, the charter captain did not fill the tanks as he had assured his three clients he had before the boat left the dock.

The tuna catch aside, Roumbanis called the trip a "misadventure," even weeks later.


With two deals in the bag, rookie Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 2010 Bassmaster Classic qualifier Scott Ashmore will debut matching wraps on his Toyota Sequoia and Gambler boat rig at the Classic, Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.

Two title sponsors for 2010, Sterling Competition Bass Boats and Laser Lure, are featured in Ashmore's wrap graphics. It will be his first wrap for both his boat and vehicle.

Sterling is a new brand for Gambler, Ashmore said. He described the rig as "really, really high-end, created just for what I do. It's exotic, like Lamborghini exotic. It has years of testing and trials and coming up with designs that meet my needs on the water. I've been with them (Gambler) so long, they really listen to my suggestions."

Laser Lure has been his sponsor in past years as an Open pro, said Ashmore, but stepped up its support in 2010 to title sponsor.

Ashmore, who lives in Broken Arrow, Okla., qualified for the Classic and Elite Series by finishing second in points in the 2009 Bassmaster Southern Open division.


The newest business venture of Elite pro Boyd Duckett — a rod company named Duckett Fishing — now has a pro staff that includes three of his fellow Elite pros.

Byron Velvick of Del Rio, Texas, Jason Williamson of Wagener, S.C., and Pete Ponds of Madison, Miss., were named to the Duckett Fishing Team.

Duckett's company, which he manages as well as owns, is based in his hometown of Demopolis, Ala. The inaugural product line, MicroMagic, is a lightweight rod made with ultralight guides.