Bobby Lane shows one of the whoppers that earned him his nickname, “Big Fish Bobby Lane”.
Few tournament anglers make catching huge bass look as easy as Bobby Lane, who, in a sport not really known for producing truly big bass, has brought three fish topping 11 pounds to the scales, along with numerous others in the eight to 10 pound class. In fact, to his peers on the Bassmaster® Elite Series tournament trail, the Yamaha Pro is known as “Big Fish Bobby Lane.”
“The majority of my big bass have come this time of year as the fish are moving shallow to spawn,” notes Lane, “and if there is one secret to share about catching them now in the early spring, it would be that I don’t necessarily fish the way I want to fish. Rather, I fish with techniques and lures I know will attract big fish.”
To that end, Lane keeps his big bass tackle surprisingly simple. He prefers small profile ½-ounce jigs with short crawfish-imitation trailers, and a variety of crankbaits that cover different water depths. He’ll also use smaller four and five inch swimbaits on occasion.
“Living in Florida as I do, naturally my favorite fishing technique is flipping heavy jigs into thick vegetation,” laughs Lane, “but I don’t find many big spawning bass in thick vegetation outside of Florida. Instead, I look for big fish in the creek channels that lead back to shallow spawning areas.
A small profile jig with crawfish trailer is one of Lane’s favorite big fish producers.
“Unlike a lot of fishermen, I start my search at the mouth of a creek rather than at the end, and I work my way in toward shallow water. In early spring, when nights are often still cold, I don’t like to fish shallow water until later in the afternoon when the sun can warm it a few degrees. This is not to say there aren’t big bass in the shallow water pockets and coves, but they just won’t be as active until the water warms later in the day.”
As he’s fishing his way toward the shallows, the Yamaha Pro stays on the deeper side of the creek channel, concentrating on any type of cover he finds where that channel makes a bend or changes direction.
“I don’t have a particular depth range or one specific type of cover I look for,” continues Lane, “because every lake is different. I fish whatever I come to, be it a rock pile, stumps, shoreline laydowns, or even boat docks. I work my lures very slowly and bring them into and through the cover as much as possible.
“For example, migrating bass really like laydown trees that have fallen from shore into the water. Trees like this provide a choice of depths and plenty of cover so they make ideal holding areas where bass may stop before continuing their movement up the creek. I’ll work the entire length of a tree like this with my jig, just crawling it through the limbs and along the bottom, and I’ll probably make a few casts to it with my crankbaits, too.”
Crankbaits can also be useful in turning out pre-spawn bass, says Lane.
“This isn’t necessarily the way I like to fish, but I know through experience this can be a good way to catch a really big bass.”
That’s one reason Lane keeps several different styles of crankbaits tied on and ready to cast. He has squarebills to use around laydown trees, shallow divers to work around boat docks, and deeper diving models to pull through stumps in slightly deeper water.
Lane believes his nickname probably originated one cold early spring morning several years ago during a Bassmaster® Elite tournament at Clear Lake in California, when, on his second cast of the day, he caught a bass weighing 11-3. He followed this with an 11-11 at the Texas Bass Classic® on Lake Fork, and added an 11-8 at a Bassmaster® Southern Open. All came in the early spring as bass were moving shallow.
“All I do is look for cover on channel bends in large tributary creeks, and use jigs and crankbaits to penetrate that cover,” concludes the Yamaha Pro. “I don’t always catch really big bass when I’m fishing this way, but I do think I’m always close to them.”