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LIFE IN THE ELITE LANE by Russ Lane

 
Have you ever wondered just what life is like on the Bassmaster Elite Trail?  Not only what happens during the tournament, but what the proís do to get ready for the next stop in between tournaments.  Well then we have something for you.  Join our Big Bite Elite Pro Russ Lane as he blogs, and fishes his way through the Bassmaster Elite tournament year. You will get a firsthand look at the ups and downs that go along with fishing the top bass fishing circuit in the nation.  Keep tuned in as Russ tells us just what life is like out on the trail.  

2/27/2014

Now that the Classic is over the 2013 season is officially in the books. None of us could have asked for a better champion than Randy Howell to represent the sport during the 2014 season. You could already tell that he had a tremendous positive effect on the crowd and other anglers during the final moments of the weigh-in. These days we could all use a good role model like him.


Now that I've praised Randy as a person and a champion, I want to tell you how hard it was to watch the Classic unfold from the floor of the expo show. I have spent many days fishing Guntersville this time of year and experienced about every set of conditions you could think of. I usually like when you have drastically changing conditions during a tournament because it evens out the competition. You can throw anything that you learned in practice away and then everyone is on equal ground at blast off. Always remember that anytime you have a change in conditions that makes what you were doing bad, that change is at the same time making something else better. Embrace those changes in weather and water conditions and go with it! I was surprised at a few of the pros that normally excel under those circumstances were reluctant to change. Anyway, I promise you I won't be missing the next Classic.


Right now I'm finishing up packing and organizing for the next three events in a row starting next week. The first event is the BASS Open on Smith Lake. Smith is the only lake in AL that I have never been to. I'm excited about that one for several reasons. It is supposed to have a bunch of big spotted bass which I'm confident I can figure out how to catch. Also, it's a lake that I have never seen before which historically I do very well on my first visits to a lake. Right now I'm in 8th place in the Southern Open points so I want to have another good tournament and try to win the AOY in that division. Taking in consideration the type of lake and time of year, I imagine baits like the Real Deal Shad, Coontail and Squirrel Tail worm will be good bets.


The next 2 following events are Elite Series on Seminole and the St Johns River. I think everyone is going to be shocked at what is weighed in at Seminole. I've been there a couple of times over the winter fun fishing and that place is about as good as any lake I've been to. Unless something happens, it should be the biggest weights of the year including Guntersville. I expect a big Kreit Tail Worm and 6" Trick Stick on the drops will be good and the Real Deal Craw in shallow matted grass too.


The St Johns has had my number the last 2 times I've been there but I've also had some bad breaks in those events too. I'm pretty sure I learned a few things those times that will help me avoid any more unforeseen circumstances. My plan there is no secret. I'm going to be sight fishing for bedding bass from the word go. The new HD Real Deal Craw is going to be a great bait for that. Sight fishing is not my favorite way to fish in a tournament but I'm actually pretty good at it. The key to it is to be 100% committed and not get in too much of a rush. You only have to catch five and have eight hours to do it. I'm looking forward to getting a little revenge on the St Johns

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Follow me on Facebook and Twitter over the next few weeks and I'll keep you updated on how these first few tournaments are going. Like I always say, momentum is everything and I'm feeling it right now. This is going to be a great year!

12/20/2013

I'm really happy that my last event of the season I at least had a chance to win. After the absolute worst season of my career it felt good to finish strong. So many bad things happened out of my control this year that I should be good to go for at least a few years! Pneumonia, Strep throat, lost fish and several other complicated issues were just more than I could handle. I was pretty sure that during the break I got everything under control and felt really good before heading down to the Okeechobee Wildcard. My mind was extremely clear and focused on what I had to do to give myself a chance to win. 

Whenever you go to Lake Okeechobee under normal conditions you can bet that flipping matted grass will play a part. I know from years of experience though that even when it's obvious what to do, you still better keep an open mind. I decided I would try a different approach in practice at this event than I usually do. I wanted to spend at least half the first day trying to figure out a way to get bites other than flipping mats. Sort of like finding a backup plan first and then looking for your primary deal afterwards. It had been cloudy and rainy for a few days in a row including the first day of practice but the weatherman said it would get hot and calm by tournament time. I knew that whatever I found today would at least change slightly in the tournament. If you're thinking straight in practice then you know to look for scenarios that are going to get better during the tournament. I put my Phoenix in and rode around for at least a couple of hours just marking areas that had clear water, a mixture of hydrilla, pads, isolated reeds and of course matted grass. A couple of those areas really looked like they had the potential I was looking for. 

To begin with I left my flipping stick in the rod box and got out a Buzzing Warmouth, a Cane Thumper and a 6" Trick Stick. I concentrated on the isolated reeds and scattered pads that had matted grass close by. I immediately started getting bites around the pads on the moving baits. No big ones yet but I could tell there were a lot of males in the area. Usually under pre spawn conditions in FL that means the big females are close by. I flipped some of the mats close by but didn't get any bites under the cloudy skies. I did catch a 7lber though by an isolated reed on the Trick Stick. I knew then that area had potential and I could catch a few fish around the reeds and pads if nothing else. I moved on looking for other areas the rest of the day and didn't really find anything else. 

I caught a few fish over the next few days flipping mats and winding the Cane Thumper but none of the areas were as promising as the area I found on day one of practice. Late on the third day of practice the sun had come out and it was totally different conditions. I decided to go back to the area I found on Day 1 and flip more of the matted grass that I didn't get bites in earlier. Immediately I caught 2 big ones flipping a Real Deal Craw and shook off several more. I then moved out to some of the reeds and cast a Trick Stick around and got bites on everyone I fished. I knew then it was going to be a great tournament. My backup was going to be catching limit fish on the reeds and and the big ones would come flipping the mats with the Real Deal Craw. 

My plan played out as expected over the next 3 days. I would start out in the mornings on the reeds to get a limit and then I would flip the mats the rest of the day. I had 25lbs on day one and felt like I may have a chance. Day 2 was my only error. I left the area with 15lbs at 12:00 because the bite had gotten really slow. Day 3 was similar to day 2. I caught a quick limit on the reeds and then started flipping. At 12:00 I had not had a bite flipping the mats and was getting anxious to leave again. I had already made the decision earlier that I would not leave no matter what. Well at 12:30 it got really calm and hot and the flipping bite just turned on. From then on I culled out everything I had and got close to 20lbs. I knew deep down that I was only one more Big Bite away from winning and I had my self in the right place and time to do it. The 6lber that I needed didn't come but just putting myself in a situation where I knew I was one bite away was all that I could ask for. I think I learned something about myself this week. Something deep down that I already knew but adversity this year had lead me to forget. I know how to win and am closer to my next win than I realize. I'm done with 2013 and it is in the books. I'm only 4 1/2 weeks away from my first BASS event of 2014 on Lake Toho and it can't get here fast enough!

6/16/2013

I've had a little break from the Elite Series the last couple of weeks as it was much needed.  There hasn't been time for a vacation or anything, but it still has been nice to be at home.  It's good to be able to take a break when things aren't going smoothly so that I can look at my next tournament as a new start.  We will be on the MS River in La Crosse this week and I am already getting anxious.  I did get to fish a small derby on Lake Jordan with my daughter last weekend just for fun.  It was her first tournament and we had a great time, even won a little money to put into her car fund for her 16th birthday coming up.  

Last week I got caught up on some things that needed to be done for sponsors, making hotel reservations for the rest of the year, some minor equipment maintenance and even some hard work in the gym.  Making hotel reservations doesn't sound like a big deal, but it actually takes a while to get them all done.  I spent several hours on the phone booking hotels for the remaining tournaments and shows for the second half of the year.  I don't have a Phoenix/Yamaha dealer near where I live so I try and do some of the general maintenance myself.  I changed the engine oil and lower unit lube on my 250SHO and made sure that all screws and bolts were still snug.  I've learned over the years to take time mid-season and make sure that everything with my boat, Castaway rods and reels are still in perfect working condition.  Being on the road for long periods of time makes it tough to be in your best physical condition.  I try to work hard in the gym during my mid-season break so that I don't run out of steam late in the year.  I think that is a big reason why I tend to do much better in the second half.  You can always tell that some guys start to wear down by the end.

By now most of you know about ICAST.  It is one of the largest trade shows inside the fishing industry where most of the new products are unveiled.  Some of the companies that I work with are working very hard to get their new products ready to present at the ICAST show in a few weeks.  I have also been helping with that.  All of the tackle has already been tested for months by me and other Elite Series guys, but there is still much to do.  Big Bite has 2 new baits for ICAST that I am extremely excited about. Last week I filmed for 12 straight hours showing how effective these new baits are on the water. The actions, shapes and even colors are not like anything you've ever seen before.  One is a crawfish bait that is awesome for flipping and as a jig trailer.  Sometimes it's important to have a bait that has very little action and then there are other times where a lot of action is important.  With one simple modification, this bait can do both.  And trust me, you are not going to believe how realistic some of the colors look.

The other is a completely new design in swim baits.  Kriet, Rojas and myself like this one so much that we begged for it to come in 3 different sizes.  We also agreed on the most productive color schemes we all wanted.  I can tell when a bass hits this bait that he is completely fooled.  They crush it!  You'll see what I mean when we're able to show you the video from last week!  As you might can tell I'm excited about these new baits and can't wait to show them to you in a few weeks. You just might get a sneak peek of them this week when I win at LaCrosse.  They are the Real DealÖ. Russ Lane

 

4/7/2013

 

Life in the Elite Lane by Russ Lane: "I've been on the road for the majority of the last 2 months and have a lot to fill you in on. I worked a few shows the week before the Classic including a Gander Mountain opening in Opelika AL and also... the TN Boat Show with Phoenix boats. There was a huge turnout for those shows and I could tell that everyone was excited for the upcoming fishing season. I wasn't feeling too hot that week and thought I better make a visit to the doctor before heading to the Classic the next day. They tested for the flu and of course it came up negative, so they just gave me some antibiotics and said don't worry you'll start feeling better in a few days. WRONG! After another doctors visit in Oklahoma and then finally a trip to the emergency room they figured out that I had pneumonia and on top of that a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic that I had been taking for almost a week. I was so sick that I honestly don't remember much about that week. I remember trying to push through it and convince myself that I was going to win no matter what. Well, it just wasn't going to happen this time. It was a horrible finish, but honestly I was happy just to make it through the week alive. Hopefully this won't ever happen to me or anyone else again.

After a few days at home I started getting my strength and my mind back. I didn't realize how sick I was until I was fully recovered. From there I left out again for the first Elite event on the Sabine River in TX. This was one of the most complicated bodies of water that I have ever seen. The variables included, changing muddy rivers, pressured clear backwaters, locks, salt water barriers, fluctuating tide that was enhanced by the wind speed and direction, blah blah blah, I could go on for ever. Honestly, most of the Elite Series guys like a good ole tough and complicated tournament. I like it because if you really get dialed in and get one "Big Bite" a day, you will be dangerous. Here it was a little different though. The Sabine is really a great fishery full of bass, the problem was that 99% of them only grew to 13.5

 inches long. Our limit was set at 14. On day one I was flipping hyacinth mats about 60 miles from the ramp. I had caught a couple of keepers there in practice and shook off at least 40 other bites on a YoDaddy in practice. Breaking out the Castaway big stick and flipping a YoDaddy in matted grass is one of my comfort zones so I couldn't wait to see what was really in that area. Day one was the most fun I have ever had only catching one keeper. I know I caught at least 20 fish that were over 13" but not 14". I know, that is really weird, but there were 5 or 6 other guys in that area that said the exact same thing. It would have been easy to just tell myself that bigger fish don't live there and go somewhere else tomorrow. I decided to go back there the next day with a positive attitude that I would figure out how to catch the keepers and avoid a disaster of a tournament. Well that's exactly what I did. I've seen this in Florida several times and should have figured it out the day before. The smaller fish would bite the YoDaddy as soon as it shot through the mat. That can lead you to believe sometimes that all you have to do is flip it in, hop it once and pull it out, believing that you'll get around a good one soon. Fishing pressure makes those older fish act funny sometimes so they weren't near as aggressive. I still caught a lot of smaller fish that day, but every keeper bite that I had was when I left the YoDaddy in the grass and yo-yoed it for at least 30 seconds. Figuring out that one little subtle deal could be the difference in me making my 6th BassMaster Classic or not.

The next week was Lake Falcon and I couldn't wait to get this one started. All of the buzz was that the fishing had turned awful there, but like all of the other pros, we knew we were going to catch 'em. After the first day of practice you could tell that it wasn't near as good as when Paul broke the weight record but there were still going to be some big bags weighed in. After a 2 days of practice I found 5-6 places that I could catch some good fish with a chance at a couple of those giants on a Spro Fat Papa70 and a carolina rigged Coontail. I was pretty sure that that was how this tournament would be won and I had a good shot if everything went right. The weather man was calling for dark clouds on the first day of the tournament so I figured just to be safe I would spend my last practice day fishing shallow in the same area that I had found those offshore fish. Big Bite is coming out with a new swim bait that is different than any other swim bait I have seen. There were about 6 people that were involved in designing this bait including Dean, Kriet and myself. That's about a total of 100 years of fishing knowledge combined that helped design this bait, and let me tell you, you are going to love it. I rigged the new bait on a Buckeye JWill flipping jig head and started swimming it through the flooded bushes and sage. I didn't get many bites, but they were all big! Of course I shook them off, but I could see them when they would come up and get it. The bites were ferocious! I decided that I was going to start out day one doing this and see what happens before heading to the ledges.

The next morning it was cloudy and windy as predicted so I thought this was going to be good. I pulled into my first stretch and I noticed that the water had cleared up just a little and dropped about 8". I thought for a second that that could possibly change things but that idea went away as a 5.5lber exploded on the new swim bait as I was swimming it over a clump of bushes. Let me tell you, this bait is the real deal. The skies stayed dark and I kept getting one of those ferocious bites about every hour so I kept throwing it. I didn't get a chance at one of those 7lbers but by 2:00 I had close to 23 lbs. I had to check in at 3:15 and the clouds were breaking so I decided to hit one of my deep places real quick before heading in. I caught 3-4 solid 3.5lbers on the Coontail and then picked up the Fat Papa70. About three cast later one of those giants stopped it! He came straight to the top and jumped then dug back to the bottom. I couldn't even see the crankbait in his mouth. When I got him to the boat I could tell that he was around 8lbs right before he made one more surge. That was the last time I saw that fish. Still not sure how he got all 6 of those Gamakatsu barbs out of his mouth. That would have given me 27lbs and put me in about 5th for the day. I said, no big deal, I'll get them tomorrow out deep with the sun out. On day 2 I went back shallow with the swim bait and new immediately that that deal was over. The sun was already out and the water had dropped another foot. I went back out to where I had lost the 8lber the day before and started catching them. It was slow but I could see them on my graph and knew that there were a bunch of fish on that spot. To make a long story short, I landed almost every fish that bit on day two. It was the 2 !0lbers and another 8lber that came off that really hurt! I did nothing wrong and them coming off was completely out of my control. Although it was hard, I stayed composed and kept on grinding to a 20lb bag. I hate talking about losing fish but those 4 would have made such a huge difference. Day 2 could have easily been a 36lb bag. It made me feel better when I got to the weigh in line and there were several other pros with similar stories from their day. I made the cut and didn't get a chance at one of those giants the next day but still had another solid 20lbs. Overall it was another pretty good tournament.
The next week I headed to Lake Douglas for the PAA event and I'll tell you all about it in my next blog. Let's just say that that new swim bait from Big Bite played a big role in another great tournament finish for me. I used it in a totally different way than the previous week on Falcon. As always after a few tournaments I really feel the momentum starting to build. I'm super excited about what's to come for the rest of the year. Check back with me here and on Facebook and Twitter to see how it's going on Life in the Elite Lane.

1/24/2013

This past weekend I did some filming on Lake Jordan and took pictures on Guntersville here in AL.  Mid-January is always a tough month to catch numbers of fish but it can be an awesome time to catch some big'uns.  We had a pretty severe front come through the state that dumped a lot of cold rain water and muddied the lakes up.  Of all of the questions I get asked from other anglers this is one that always comes up. "How do I catch fish in cold muddy water?" Well, there's no doubt that this is a scenario that can be difficult to figure out, but when you get dialed in there's almost no better scenario to catch a huge bag of fish.  This weekend I got totally dialed in and was able to get some really Big Bites!  I have caught some of the biggest 5 fish limits of my fishing career in conditions like this time and time again.  

                There are several things that happen that have an influence on the fish when you get a lot of rain followed by a cold front.  First off, you obviously get muddy water which will force the fish to move shallow. Even if you were getting bites last week out in 20ft those fish are forced to move shallower with the reduced visibility.  So, right off the bat you have eliminated the possibility of fishing deep.  Now, when you have the muddy water there will almost always be current involved.  It can be that the rain runoff is coming off of the nearby mountains, hills or creek beds.  Also if there is a damn system then they will be opening the gates to get the water through to prevent it from backing up and flooding. The current has a huge effect on how the fish will position.  I look for those definite current seams.  Depending on how fast the current is they may be sitting directly in the current or could be just inside the eddy where the current is slacking.  Almost always they will be close to where you see the current make a seam around a point or any other object in the water. 

                So already we've eliminated fishing deep and narrowed it down to shallow and near current seams. The next change that takes place under these conditions is the falling water temperature.  Around here in AL the normal temp may be 53 degrees, but could fall as far down as 43 degrees overnight after a big front. A 10 degrees difference is a lot and will put the fish in a mood that greatly reduces the size of their strike zone.  As long as you realize this ahead of time then you will be fine.  The last major change that has an influence is the high bright skies that come with the high pressure front passing through.  The fish like to use the bright sunshine to warm up their body temperature on those cold post front days.  Look for whatever cover that is shallow and near these current seams that looks like it will hold heat.  I always like to look for dark colored rocks first.  When the sun shines down on them they hold just enough heat to warm the water up around it by a fraction. One or two degrees more warmth is all that it may take to get a fish to position right up against the rocks.  Some lakes or rivers don't have a lot of rock so then I would look for floating debris mats that are collected from all of the current.  It can be a log jam or even just a tightly packed mat of leaves and sticks. These matted piles of debris hold heat as well and the fish will get directly under them to benefit. 

                So under cold muddy water post front conditions I always know that my best odds are to look for fish to be shallow, in or near current seams, on rocks or other dark hard cover and under debris mats.  On the rocks I would start off casting a Spro Fat Papa55 crankbait and a Big Bite Coontail Worm in watermelon red flake. When you see a place that has everything that you're now looking for then you have to fish it slow and thorough. The fish are lethargic and have a very small strike zone.  You may even have to bump them in the face with the bait to get them to bite so stay with it. I even like to change angles when I'm casting to the same place to up my odds of directly hitting the fish in the mouth. You may not have to actually bump each fish with your bait to get them to bite, but the ones that you do will almost always bite out of reaction. For the floating debris mats I will have 2 baits rigged up on a heavy action Castaway Skeleton flipping stick with 60lb Sunline braid. I'll put a Big Bite YoMamma in Hematoma color on a 1/2oz weight with a stout Gamakatsu straight shank hook.  This is for the log jams and loosely packed mats. The other setup will be a Big Bite YoDaddy Craw also in Hematoma color on a 1oz weight with the Gamakatsu hook.  The YoDaddy has a smaller profile than the YoMamma so it works well for those really thick compacted floating mats. With the 1oz weight it slides through the mat easily. I try to flip these mats very thorough still keeping in mind that the strike zone is very small. I will punch it through every foot or so and even yoyo it 10-15 times.  I have caught some monsters doing this!

                Well, if you have always struggled under cold muddy water post front conditions, I hope this will help you out.  I actually look forward to these conditions at times knowing that if I get 5-6 bites in the boat they are going to be the right ones. As always there are exceptions, but if you try these baits and presentations after recognizing similar conditions, I guarantee you'll be putting the odds greatly in your favor of getting a few more Big Bites!    Russ Lane

 

11/17/2012

On my last blog I ended by saying that one of my goals for the off season was to keep the momentum moving forward into next season.  As a matter of fact I'm working on trying to increase the momentum so that I'm "on fire" when the Classic rolls around.  I've noticed some years that particular pros, including myself will end a year on fire only to come back the next season and have completely lost that previous mindset.  Where does it go?  Well I think we start to slip into bad habits with the way we think, speak and go about our off season routines. I've learned over the years that just by saying something negative about a situation like losing a fish will cause you to spin out.  For example, the other day was the Presidential election.  To my surprise, my guy obviously didn't win.  I talked to some of my buddies about it and they were pretty upset as well.  We were all complaining.  I let it just completely snowball throughout the day to the point where I barely got any sleep that night.  My mind was filled with all of the negative thoughts and words that I let consume and waste my day.  The next day it occurred to me that this is exactly how, as tournament fishermen, we enter the dreaded slump.  You have to completely "eliminate all negative words and thoughts" to avoid falling into the trap.  Even if you are in a discussion about a problem situation, all comments have to be spoken in a positive moving forward manner. No matter what happens to you on the water, you have to keep that mindset to avoid the slump and increase momentum.  You won't hear me complain about the election results again.

  Since I'm pretty sure I've got a good plan now on how to keep the positive momentum, let's talk about my plans on how to increase it.  There's one thing that you have to get before you even begin to build momentum and that is confidence.  You've heard me say many times that the Big Bite Yo'Daddy and Coontail are my "confidence" baits.  That ainít no sales talk guys.  I firmly believe that when I have either of those baits on in the right situation,  I have an advantage over my competition.  I gained confidence in those baits through the preparation and process of designing them, testing them and catching fish on them in tournaments while under pressure.  I know exactly the right size Sunline to match with whatever Gamakatsu hook I need in the Coontail or YoDaddy.  I am thoroughly prepared through matching the right rod, reel, line and even hook set with each bait at all times.  I have confidence in those baits because I know every detail about them and have had success using them.  That is the perfect example of how confidence is created.  During this offseason, if I do everything I can to prepare for next season in an organized positive manner, I will have all the confidence I need to go out and have a strong season.  I'll prepare a notebook full of notes, ideas, tournament history and a plan of attack for each lake on the schedule.  I'm also planning a pre-practice trip starting at the Sabine River, then on to Grand Lake and finishing up at Lake Falcon.  I chose those in order for a reason.  The Sabine will be very tough fishing and could be discouraging.  Grand should be pretty good fishing plus I'll be a little more motivated there because it's where the Classic will be.  I'm going to Falcon last because the fishing will be incredible as always.  As I go to each lake in order I'll steadily build more confidence and momentum at each stop.  After I leave Falcon I expect to be completely ready to fish the Bassmasters Classic, full of confidence with an increasing positive momentum.

  I hope everyone gets half as much from this as I have.  Maybe a little deep, but that's the way I have to think to be competitive.  The most important thing that separates the top pros on the Elite Series from the guy trying to make it is mindset.  The best angler in the world may be digging a ditch somewhere right now because he never learned how to control things like mindset and momentum.  If you'll work hard on creating a solid mindset and grab you some Coontails, I'll guarantee you'll get more Big Bites! Russ Lane

10/9/2012

"Finally we're back at home after the last of a long stretch of tournaments and I couldn't be happier about how things turned out.  The main goal of qualifying for the 2013 Bassmasterís Classic was accomplished at Oneida thanks to a big day 2 making the cut and clenching the Classic berth.  I was flipping matted grass with the YoDaddy and had one of those days that you never forget!  

After that I fished the last regular season PAA event in Muskogee, OK and finished 13th which also qualified me for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe a couple of weeks later. The Muskogee event was on the AR River and the fishing was pretty tough. Tommy Biffle won the event in some hole that took him 2 hours to get into that of course no one else even knew about.  The rest of us were all fighting it out in the few areas that had fish.  I caught several early each day on a Spro FatPapa55 and then would slow down with the flipping stick and a Coontail Worm.  If you run into any of the other Elite Series guys please don't tell them I told you this, but I've been catching fish behind them all year on this bait.  Fishing pressure is the biggest obstacle that we have to overcome at the tour level, and the Coontail is just one of those special baits that shine when the fish are skittish and unaggressive.  I suspect it will be in my arsenal for a long time.

The following week was the FLW at Wheeler where I also cranked and flipped my way to an 11th place finish.  This wasn't the win I was hoping for, but still another strong finish on the TN River.  There's no doubt in my mind that I will win a tour event on the TN River one of these days.  As soon as that weigh in was over I jumped in the Big Bite truck and drove to Conroe TX.  By the time I got there and unpacked I had already missed the first of only three days of practice for the Toyota Classic.  I wasn't too worried about it because I've been there a couple of times and with the way the weather forecast was shaping up practice wasn't going to do much good anyway. I had a ton of confidence that I would catch them at Conroe.  I had qualified for 4 previous Toyota Classics with finishes of 10th, 10th, 4th and 2nd, so I expected to have a big week. This event takes the top 15 in the points from each of the BASS Elite, FLW and PAA Tours which is always about as tough a field of anglers as you'll see.  The weather was supposed to set up for calm bright skies on day one and pouring rain, wind and dark skies the next two.

 I found a few stretches of docks that I could flip the Coontail on for day one and knew I would have to completely start over when the rain came.  I actually love to have drastic changes in conditions during a tournament. You just have to be able to throw out most of what you have done in practice and just let the conditions tell you what to do.  On day two I rigged up about a dozen rods on my Phoenix deck so that I would be ready for anything.  I didn't get many bites that day, but they were the right ones totaling 20lbs. This was the biggest bag of the tournament so far and moved me into 6th place only 3lbs behind leader Brian Snowden. On day 3, I caught 13lbs and finished in 4th place.  On the way back to the ramp I was a little disappointed feeling like I had been only one Big Bite away from winning, but really deep down I knew I had done all I could do.  I wanted to win a tournament so bad this year, but overall it was still a great season that ended with a ton of momentum. 

My goal for the off season is to work hard to keep and carry over the same frame of mind and winning attitude into the Bassmasterís Classic next February. I want to begin next season with that magical thing called momentum instead of trying to build it during the season.   Keep checking back here where I plan to talk more about the mental game, techniques, baits and whatever else is going on in Life in the Elite Lane"  Russ Lane

8/1/2012

Last week I fished the PAA Tour tournament on Neely Henry in Gadsden AL. It's one of the upper lakes on the Coosa chain so I was more than fired up to get started there. I'm not near as familiar with it like I am with Jordan and Lay but I've really done well there a few times over the years. Although I only finished 15th last week and that wasn't the win that I was looking for, it made my second final day cut in a row. I've really got the momentum rolling right now and feeling good about the rest of the year. Neely Henry was what most of the pros call a "grind". We had air temps around 100 all week with humidity so thick that it was hard to breathe. Over the course of the week the water level dropped a foot and went from 85 to 95 degrees on the final day. It even cleared up from lack of strong rains and current. All of these conditions combined with fishing pressure can make for a super tough tournament. Well, I like to have one of these type tournaments every now and then. They test you mentally and even physically. These kind of tournaments always force you to stay sharp and focused on every move. I work very hard on my physical conditioning and I could really tell that it paid off this week. 

When conditions are brutal I know going in that I'm not going to get many bites so I try and look for ways to catch them where I have more confidence. For me my confidence is shallow power fishing, flipping and offshore cranking. That's exactly how I fished Neely Henry. I was able to catch 1-2 fish each morning before the sun got high by swimming a 3/8oz Buckeye swim jig with a YoDaddy trailer around water willow grass. I fished it fast and covered as much water as I could to try and take advantage of the early morning bite. After that I pulled out the flipping stick and pitched around grass, laydowns and docks out on the main river's steeper banks. I was using a tilapia colored Coontail worm, 1/4oz weight and a Gamakatsu 4/0 EWG hook. That hook is a perfect fit for the Coontail. The point lies directly under the ribs on the back and is in perfect position. I've caught a ton of fish with this setup since Big Bite started making them in April and it was my best deal in this tournament. At around 2:30 everyday AL Power would start generating water to supply power to everyone running their air conditioners. This gave me a solid hour to get offshore and crank a Fat Papa on the ledges. The only day I didn't catch any cranking was the final day and that's because we had to weigh in an hour early and missed the current. My plan kept me in position to win and in the end I was only 2 bites away. 

Just remember that when you are facing similar brutal conditions to not let it get in your head. Use the situation to take advantage of your strengths as an angler and your confidence will take over in the decision making. I grabbed the 3 baits that I have the most confidence in, YoDaddy, Coontail and SPRO crankbait. In the same situation, what will you grab? Russ Lane

 

7/5/2012

Sorry it's been a while since my last blog. I've only been off the water about 7 days in the last 5 weeks and 5 of them were spent in the front seat of my Big Bite wrapped Tundra! The results of my last 4 events have really been solid as I fully expected them to be. We have gotten away from the spawn for the most part and that allows me to stay more in my comfort zone. The tournament on the MS River in LaCrosse was so much fun and one that really helped build my momentum. I found an out of the way backwater area about 45 minutes from takeoff that was absolutely loaded. It had the right combination of milfoil, hydrilla, peppergrass and clear water. In the center of this area was one solid matt of scum over milfoil that was about 100 yards long. I figured that if I was lucky enough to have it all to myself that I would at least have an opportunity for a top 5 finish. Well on the first morning of the tournament guess who sits down right next to me, KVD. We spend the next 3 days working over this small area and we absolutely crushed'em. I've fished near Kevin several times in tournaments, but never close enough that we could talk almost all day. Don't get me wrong, that guy is the best there is and probably ever will be, but I got a lot of confidence after fishing that close to him for so long. He lost fish just like I did, had to keep making adjustments in baits and presentations and everything else that we all go through over the course of a tournament. We were mostly catching them flipping, frogging and swimming a jig around the edges. I was flipping my Coontail worm with a 3/4oz weight and swimming a Buckeye jig with either a Cane Thumper or a YoDaddy trailer. Anyways, it was a solid tournament and actually gave me a little more insight to my own abilities mentally and mechanically on the water. 

The following week was the "mystery" event in Green Bay on Lake Michigan. I truly like the concept of the mystery lake because it forces the anglers to go and fish a tournament without any pre-practice or help from the local sticks. This keeps us all on an even playing field. I would be fine really if they were all mystery tournaments. This in itself was another confidence boost for me. I know that I'm as good as most of the field, but sometimes it's hard to compete against the guys that already have the "juice". My plan was to start that practice just like any other tournament and eliminate until I got down to one or two ways to catch'em. The first morning of practice I always try and stay open minded so that I don't miss something that I had not already thought about. While idling out of the cove that I launched from something caught my eye. I won't get too specific because we may go there again, but it was a piece of cover that largemouths really like to use. In all of my internet research on Green Bay I never saw anything about any largemouths being caught. My first 2 flips with a Coontail worm were a 4 and 31/2lb largemouth! I made several more flips and shook several more fish off. I felt pretty sure that it would be won with smallmouths so I didn't let that totally throw me off of my game plan, but I also knew that I could use that largemouth deal at some point during the tournament. I figured out that most of the better smallmouths were from 4-8ft and when it got calm I could actually see them down to about 10ft. I was fortunate to have found the largemouth deal and 2 smallmouth places that I had all to myself. Most of the smallmouth that I weighed in I could see before I caught them. They weren't on bed, just up cruising around and feeding. I would pitch a dropshot with a Coontail and a Shaking Squirrel out in front of them and most would get it before it hit the bottom. When I felt like I needed a fish or 2 I would run over to my largemouth deal and catch a couple. I was in 11th going into the last morning an decided to go straight to the largemouth and maybe get luck and catch a big one. It was a great decision because I caught a 4 and a 31/2! Then on my way to the smallmouth hole I had some bad luck. My engine shut down about 40 miles out. We tried to find someone that could bring me a boat, but it just never worked out. In 8 years my Yamaha has never failed once during a tournament. It's just one of those unfortunate things that will happen to everyone at some point regardless of the engine brand. I'm a Yamaha guy till the end. 

Overall those were still two great tournaments. I'm now inside the Classic cut with only one event left and it's at Lake Oneida, one of my favorite lakes we regularly fish. Feeling good about that one already. Next week Jill and I will be headed down to Orlando, FL for the ICAST show. I always try and let everyone know about all of the cool new products that I get to see there and next week will be no exception. I know that Big Bite has several new baits that Jeff, Dean and I are all excited about! Check in with me on Facebook and here for more about what's up in "Life in the Elite Lane".  Russ Lane

4/28/2012

Over the last few weeks things have really started to go my way. We're inching away from the spawn and moving more into my comfort zone, post spawn power fishing. 3 weeks ago I fished a team tournament on Lay Lake with my good friend and Big Bite field staffer Chris Rutland. We won with 20lbs and had big fish 6.5lbs. More importantly we had fun doing it. Win or lose, I really enjoy fishing a few team tournaments a year with my ole buddy Chris. It just reminds that I need to always make sure I'm having fun no matter how big the tournament. We caught'em flippin a Yo'Daddy in Hematoma around the matted bank grass. 

I spent the next week at Table Rock working a writers event for Big Bite, Sunline and Spro. All of the pro staffers including Kriet, Rojas and myself were there introducing new products, working on tip videos and magazine articles. I did some fun videos that will be on a new Gander Mountain website shortly. They had heard rumors that I could change the Gamakatsu treble hooks on my crankbait without a tool quicker than anyone on tour. I don't know if it was the fastest ever but it was pretty quick. You'll have to go to the Gander Mountain website and watch the video when it is up to see. We also gave a sneak peak of the new Big Bite Coontail worm (shown in the picture above) that will be in the stores very soon. I spent one afternoon out on the lake with one of the writers and we caught'em good on the Coontail. It's an awesome C-rig bait and I think an even better flipping bait. It's super soft and has a subtle action that is perfect for fishing around heavily pressured waters. 

The following week was the Elite event at Bull Shoals Lake. That was one of the funnest tournaments that I've fished in a long time. I caught all of my fish there on the Coontail worm and a new crankbait from Spro called the Baby Papa. We were catching so many 2-3lbers, but a big fish was hard to come by. I flipped the Coontail in a bush and caught a 5lber on day one to keep me in the hunt. I was running and gunning the whole time and probably caught 30 keepers a day between the two baits. After a rough start in FL it felt pretty good to finish 27th and move up 16 places in the points. Next week will be the 4th Elite event on Douglas Lake in TN.  Most of the field have never been there before including myself.  I really do like going to new lakes because you don't have too many preconceived notions of how and where you want to fish. My plan is to keep it simple and make my decisions based totally on the conditions. I'm due for a top 10 finish and even more for a win. I can feel the momentum gaining as we're heading into the post spawn phase. The win is coming soon!  Russ Lane

3/30/2012

Well here we go again! Florida has left me in another uphill climb for the remaining 6 Elite Tournaments. I deep down don't believe in bad luck, but it sure does seem like I am snake bit down there. If you remember in one of my previous blogs about FL tournaments, I said that I had to get away from these small out of the way areas that never gave me the opportunity to win. These were areas that early in my career I could cash checks in and get away from the crowds; but, they would not be big enough to hold up for 3 or 4 days. 

There was an area on Okeechobee like this for several years that I used to love to fish. It was a very small, protected, out of the way bay on the far south end of the lake. One day down there I had 5 fish that weighed 40lbs while pre practicing for an Open event. I cashed quite a few checks out of that small area over several years; but, got frustrated that I was running out of fish. Well, I convinced myself to never go back there again about 3 years ago and concentrate on areas that had more potential to win. This adjustment hasn't worked out.  My guess is that some of you reading this already know where this is going. The name of that area that was always good to me, but never gave me the opportunity to win was Pelican Bay. That's right, that's where Ish Monroe won the tournament last week! I completely got sick to my stomach when I heard where he was fishing. I know that 100 yard stretch like the back of my hand. There are a couple of depressions in there where the water is about a foot deeper than anywhere else and that's where they always are. In Ish's interviews he talked about those little deeper areas being the key. I'm not sure exactly what bait he was using, but I know they would have smoked the YoDaddy. Even though I chose to fish in the crowds, instead of Pelican where I really wanted to be, I still had the opportunities to finish much higher than I did. Unfortunate, but it is what it is. 

Regardless of how I've finished in the last few tournaments I still feel like I'm fishing well. We've got Bull Shoals up next in a few weeks and I can't wait to get started. I've always said the best way to get over a bad tournament is to go fish another one. Conditions at Bull Shoals are high water that is unseasonably warm. This should set up to be a power fisherman's dream tournament. Its a big lake so I should be able to find some shallow fish all to myself. I'm looking for techniques like swimming a Buckeye jig with a YoDaddy trailer and flipping a YoMama around flooded bushes. I know there'll also be spawning fish that will eat up a Trick Stick down river in the clearer water. Fishing is all about making decisions that put the odds in your favor and odds are that this time I'm going to get it right. I WILL WIN one soon!

3/6/2012

As I sit down at my desk to write this I take a glance outside my office window. I immediately notice a dogwood tree and one of my wife's flowers beginning to bloom. This can mean only one thing, spring is here and bass fishing on Lake Jordan and the AL River are going to be hot! These two bodies of water are unique in that they have excellent largemouth and spotted bass populations. It can easily take five fish of either species from 20 to 24lbs to win one day tournaments this time of year. There are lots of different techniques you can use early spring to catch fish on either lake or river; but, I'm going to give you a couple of tips on how to target the big ones. 

For targeting big largemouth on Lake Jordan you'll primarily want to focus on the water willow weed beds that line the shore of the lake. The big females will sit under these thick grass mats waiting for conditions to get right to spawn in a few weeks or so. I break out the 7'6" Carrot Stix flipping stick with an AbuGarcia MGX reel and pitch to the thickest parts of the water willow mats that I can find. I'll use 50-60lb Sunline FX2 braid, 3/4-1oz tungsten weight, a 5/0 Gamakatsu straight shank Heavy Cover hook and a Big Bite Yo'Daddy.  My favorite colors are Hematoma and Okeechobee Craw. This time of year you'll want to look for the weed beds that are on the north sides of pockets and coves that are protected from those cool north winds. They will also receive a lot more sunshine from the west that really heats these weed beds up and fires up the big largemouths. Try and make long but quiet pitches to the mats and usually they will hit the YoDaddy on the initial fall. A good day will be 10-12 bites averaging between 3-5lbs.

Lake Jordan also has some monster spotted bass too. I like to use a SPRO Fat Papa crankbait in the upper river to taget the really big ones. Look for points that make current breaks and have gravel and rocks in 8-10ft. I will rig the Fat Papa on a 7ft medium Carrot Stix rod and an Abu Garcia Revo Winch reel spooled with 12lb Sunline Reaction FC. You'll want to sit down current and try and grind the crankbait through the rocks and gravel while reeling it with the current. A 3-4lb spot hits this bait like a freight train! Don't be surprised if when you get on the right point that you could easily catch a couple of spots over 5lbs. They really like bright colors this time of year and Tropical Shad seems to be the best. 

Now the AL River is a little different for largemouths. Here the dominant shallow cover for largemouths are stumps and lay down logs. They really like a chartreuse 1/2oz Buckeye spinner bait and I have caught some big ones flipping a Big Bite Baits Yo'Mama too. For the Yo'Mama I'll use the same flipping rig setup accept for a 1/4-3/8oz weight. Whether throwing the spinner bait or the Yo'Mama the key is to make contact with the wood cover. This is a good way to get a reaction strike from many of the 3-5lbers this time of year. Look for shallow sloping flats just off the main river that are lined with the stumps and lay downs. 

Spot fishing in the spring on the river is very similar to Lake Jordan. I like to go up river in the last 10-15 miles before you get to Walter Bouldin damn. There is a lot of pea gravel points up in that section and more importantly some really big spotted bass. I use the same SPRO Fat Papa setup and occasionally they will hit a 3/4oz Buckeye football jig with a Big Bite Yo'Daddy trailer. The green pumpkin jig and Orange Crawdad Yo'Daddy works the best for me. They may be a little shallower on the river due to the dingy water color so be sure to have another Fat Papa rigged on 14lb line so that you can fish it in the 6-9ft depths too. I have caught more than several spotted bass over the years up the river over 6lbs! If you want to go somewhere that you can catch a big largemouth or a trophy size spotted bass well now is the time to do it on Lake Jordan or the AL River!  Russ Lane

 

2/14/2012

"I just got back from the FLW event at Okeechobee where I had another terrible Florida showing. I've been sitting here at my desk trying to figure out why for the last several years I've struggled down there. Don't get me wrong, I love fishing in FL, especially at Okeechobee. Most of the time it's a flipping deal and that's one of my favorite ways to catch'em. After going back and looking at all of my FL tournaments for the last 8 years I know exactly what the problem has been. Early on I was cashing checks in FL by finding these little out of the way areas that held just enough fish to get paid with. I really got frustrated though after a couple of years that I wasn't having higher finishes so I started fishing the more popular areas that held the larger schools of fish. When you go to these well known areas with large schools of fish you have to contend with 75-100 boats in these areas at times. Even though there will be lots of guys in those areas that have bad tournaments, someone always wins in those same areas. I had absolutely no problem finding fish at Okeechobee, caught over 20lbs everyday of practice. What I've had trouble with in these popular areas is making the adjustments as the tournament gets started. I have talked about this many times before, fishing pressure is the hardest variable to overcome in tour level tournaments. It moves the fish and makes them more skittish than any cold front or other natural changes ever do. The guys that figure out the quickest how the fishing pressure has changed the fish during the tournament are the ones that always come out on top. Now I can always lay up and go back to fishing these isolated areas with small populations of fish that I would comfortably have all to myself. I could probably get a small check and some decent AOY points too but theres no way I would be giving myself a chance to win. That just isn't my style anymore. I want to win more than anything so I have to put myself in an area that will give me the opportunity to do that. Well the good thing is that I've got another chance to redeem myself. The BASS Elite Series will be back in Okeechobee this March and I already can't wait to get that one started. I already know where a couple of areas are that have some huge schools of fish and that takes care of half the battle. My goal will be to go into day 1 with an open mind and be ready for the adjustments that I'll have to make. I've had several top 10 finishes down there and Okeechobee is still one of my favorite lakes. "I will win a tournament this year" so it might as well be that one.!.. Russ Lane

1/12/2012

"Right now I'm in the middle of getting organized and prepared for the 2012 season to get started. There's a lot more that goes into getting ready for a new year than most would realize. One of the big jobs is getting my new 921 Phoenix/Yamaha rigged for competition. I have to coordinate with several companies for it to all come together. I have to get Phoenix and Yamaha on the same page so that the engine will be shipped at the time that the boat is about to go into production. Talks with Atlas Jackplates, Humminbird, Minnkota and Deca batteries are vital to get their equipment to the factory on time as well. I have to get the owners at Big Bite aligned with Phoenix on the timing that the boat will be ready for pick up so that they can take the truck and boat all the way to Michigan to apply the wrap. The folks at ATS Printing in Merrill MI do such a great job designing wraps with all of my sponsor logos. That is why we take it all the way up there. Today I just got a big box full of Abu Garcia reels, Winches for cranking, Premiers for casting various types of baits and the new MGX Magnesium's that I'm going to use for flipping. I will be spooling them up with Sunline and locking them down on the new Wild Black Carrot Stix rods that I just got in. I keep around 25-30 rods in my boat so it takes a while to get them all ready to go. One thing that I do is go over each event on the schedule for the year and try to determine what baits and colors I'll need before I order them from my sponsors. I have boxes full of Spro Lures, Buckeye jigs, Big Bite Baits and even some new Boomerang fishing tools that have to be organized before I get started. It's a big job to get everything in it's place but I seem to get a little better at it every year. I use Bassminder's Tackle Labels to help me get my boxes organized before they go into the boat or storage. There are also things like scheduling shows, ICAST and even the Bass Classes that I teach for the year. Booking hotels is my least favorite thing to do but I try to get all of that done before the first event. Helping with sponsors to design new baits and tools is something that I love to work on this time of year. Right now I'm working with Buckeye, Spro and Big Bite on some new baits for the near future. I just wanted to give you some insight on what I do this time of year while I have a break from tournaments. It is still a busy time of year even though I'm not out on the water as much. Remember, all you need is 5 big bites!.. Russ Lane

12/26/2011

"Christmas came early for me last week on the 23rd. I had an awesome few hours fishing on Lake Guntersville, but it wasn't the fish that I caught that made me smile the most. Back in June I got a FB message from a guy up in North AL that said he had a 23 year old friend that was recently in a horrible accident. His name is Elliot and he loves to fish, he has lost both of his legs from the accident. He asked me if I could send him a text to try and cheer him up a little. So I did, I told him that as soon as he got well that he and I would go fishing. We talked back and fourth over the last few months and he seemed to have such a great attitude about things. I've met a lot of people that have had some tough luck in their life and Elliot seemed to be handling it better than most. I wanted to make sure that when he was ready to go that it would be as good a fishing day as possible. When he let me know a couple of weeks back that he was doing good and was itching to go fishing I knew right where to take him.  Guntersville! The Big-G has been one of the hottest lakes in the country the last few years and the new AL-Rig technique has made it that much better. We talked on the 22nd and after looking at the weather forecast I said tomorrow is the day. Elliot, his dad and friend all met me the next morning and what happened over the next several hours was pretty amazing. We caught 10 fish on the AL-Rig with Buckeye swimbait heads and Big Bite Cane Thumpers that weighed from 4.5-7.5lbs each. Our best 5 easily weighed over 30lbs! At one point we had all caught a fish except for Elliot and he was doing everything right. I wanted him to catch one of those 6 or 7lbers so bad. And then it happened, I looked back and Big-E was bowed up! We were all hollering and cheering him on to get that fish in the boat. He got it in and it was a a big ole fat 6lber. I don't know who was grinning the biggest, me or Elliot. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better Big-E did it again. But this time it was one over 7lbs! What an awesome day! Later when we got ready to leave they all thanked me for coming up and going fishing with Elliot. I'm the one though that should have been thanking them. I was all smiles on the drive back home. Best Christmas present ever! .. Russ Lane

10/28/2011

"Last week was the final tour event of the year for me and man was it a wild one. I finished 3rd at the FLW on Lake Guntersville and discovered a somewhat new technique that I believe will be one of the hottest new bait systems on the market. If you follow tournament bass fishing and have been living under a rock for the last week then you may not have heard about it yet, well it's called the Alabama Rig. It's basically a smaller version of some of the popular salwater umbrella rigs that are used for trolling multiple baits at once. The A-rig is much smaller and lighter so that it can be casted with 5 of your favorite baits. I used it to catch bass that were suspended 10 ft from the bottom in up to 30ft of water. This scenario is and has always been the toughest situation to catch fish in. Usually when I see the fish suspended like that on my graph I will pass the spot up all together and look for another type of structure. I had my A-rig rigged up with 5 1/2oz Buckeye JWill swimbait heads glued to 5 matching BigBite CaneThumpers. The whole set up weighed more than 6ozs so I had to throw it on an 8ft XXHeavy Carrot Stick/Abu Garcia Revo Premier and 60lb Sunline FX2 braid. I have to admit, this was the goofiest looking thing that I've ever seen at first. When I would lob it out about 20yrds from the boat it would make a splsh about like Peter T doin his best version of the cannonball. I figured out that if I counted it down to about 10ft and reeled it at a slow but steady pace, they would CRUSH it! The bites on this set up told me that the fish were completely fooled. Truly one of the most amazing things that I've ever seen in bass fishing. It was not until the 3rd day of the tournament that I got one of these rigs and figured out how to use it. The first 2 days I caught only 12 keepers with the best ones weighing 29lbs, the last 2 days wich is usually tougher, I caught 87 keepers with the best weighing 44lbs! Crazy. Heres the deal though. I believe that the A-Rig is just another tool to use for when the conditions are right to use it. The Buckeye heads and Cane Thumpers seem to be the perfect baits to use with it. Although, I will be experimenting with Warmouths, Jerk Minnows and also a new swimbait that we at BigBite have started working on too. Get you some Cane Thumpers and Buckeye heads and one of these rigs and go Jack'em Up! .. Russ Lane

10/4/2011

"The fall is one of my most favorite times of year. The weather is getting cooler hear in Bama and most of the fishermen are in the woods getting ready for dear season. This leaves the lake wide open and the fish start biting like crazy. They go to chasing shad and just about anything else that moves around in shallow water. The key this time of year is the bait. A bass's number 1 priority this time of year is to hurry up and get fat! Fat enough to last them throughout the winter. There is no spawn this time of year to worry about so its all about the food. Find the food, find the bass. There are exceptions, but for the most part shad is a dominant forage for the bass. Most of the shad go way back in the back ends of creeks and on top of very shallow wide open flats. The 2 things that these 2 areas usually have in common are slightly stained water and stumps. In the fall, when you see stained water, stumps and shad, you are about to get bit. Buckeye spinnerbaits and Spro shallow cranks are an obvious choice, but I want to tell you about 2 different soft plastic rigs that will get you a few more Big Bites on these shallow shad eatin bass. The Cane Thumper is a 5" slender swimbait that can be awesome if rigged and fished correctly. I like it when the sun is high and there is little to no wind. I fish it similar to how I would a crankbait and try to make contact with the stumps. On bright sunny days the bass will hold tight to the stumps waiting to ambush a passing shad. Hit the stump with a steady retrieve then pop your rod up high bringing the Thumper to the surface. The key to getting the most action is in the rigging. I use a 5/0 Gamakatsu 60 degree jig hook and I attach it with a screw lock. Anywhere from 1/8 to a 1/4 oz tungsten bullet weight in front will be heavy enough to keep it down. Don't peg it! When you pop the Cane Thumper off a stump the weight separates from the bait and the bait suspends in place for a moment. This is when most of your strikes will occur, so be ready. I use14-16lb Sunline Shooter flourocarbon and a good stiff 7ft Carrot Stix rod with an AbuGarcia Revo 7.1. You will see most of the fish eat it, but don't set the hook immediately. He wont spit it out, reel down make sure he's got it and the cross his eyes! Check back in a couple of days and I'll tell you about the rig that I use on cloudy windy days when the fish are roaming and really aggressive! Fish to win! .." Russ Lane

8/23/2011

"The PAA/Neely Henry event was a pretty good one for me last week. I made sure going into that event that my mindset was on winning. I've had that mindset since the halfway point of this years Elite season. My worst finish since then was a 25th way back at Lake Murray and I've gotten stronger at every event since then. The last 2 events I've had the opportunity to win finishing 7th and 6th. I try and make sure that I do all of the little things that I can to put the odds in my favor as much as possible. From changing line, adding new hooks to crankbaits as soon as they need it and keeping the baits and equipment that I have the most confidence in my hands at all times. Last week that setup was a 7:1 Revo Premier, 7 1/2ft Carrot Stix rod, 25lb Sunline Flourocarbon and of course the Big Bite YoDaddy! It's August and yes there are always fish out deep in the summer time, but when it gets late in the year those deep fish can get extremely hard to catch. To me, it's always a good idea this time of year to make sure you know how to at least catch a few fish shallow early in the morning before you get out the big crankbait and go to the ledges. And that's exactly what I did last week. In practice I played with a few different topwater and shallow crankbaits, but I had a good idea those aggressive fish would shut down before the end of the tournament. I tried flipping a YoDaddy around docks and found a solid pattern. I added a jig skirt to the line in between the YoDaddy and the weight. If you haven't tried this yet you should. When you shake or pop the bait with your rod the skirt flares and gives it a little extra appeal that it is needed sometimes to make a lethargic fish react. I've noticed that this really works well in the hottest part of summer and in the dead of winter. In both seasons fish usually prefer a big bait too. I was able to catch a few good fish by mid day flipping docks with this setup and that was a big key for me to be able to go out to the deep ledges where the better fish live late in the day. Overall finishing sixth with a great chance of winning is about all anyone could ask for. I could not have finished nearly as high without those few shallow fish each morning. Try bulking up some of your plastics with a skirt and see what happens. Sometimes it's the little things that help you get a few more Big Bites!!!!!!" Russ Lane

8/10/2011

Since getting back from ICAST I've been super busy trying to catch up on sponsor requests and getting ready for the upcoming PAA event on Neely Henry. I've had a few sponsors that needed photos for their websites and advertising so early last week I went to Lake Jordan to catch a few picture fish. I hadn't been there in a while but I figured them out pretty quickly. I caught about 15lbs in about 4 hours of fishing with 3 really nice fish to use for pictures. I would tell you how I caught them but it might tip off a few of the guys of how to catch them at Neely Henry next week. Neely Henry is one of the other lakes on the Coosa Chain and it fishes a lot like Jordan. Anyway, I met up later with a proffessional photographer later in the day and we took 575 pictures. Out of all of those, it was narrowed down to 75 photos to be edited.(I need a ton of editing too!) Probably only 20 of those will actually ever be used! This past weekend my old team partner Chris and I fished the Marbury Bass Classic on the AL River. This was a fundraising tournament for the Marbury High School baseball team. Whenever my schedule allows, I try and support some of the local fundraiser tournaments. We had a great day too. We won with 14.65lbs. There were 97 boats and all of the guys that I came up fishing local tournaments with were there. It was good to see everyone again. These guys are the reason that I'm a professional fisherman today. They are some fierce competitors! We caught a few fish early swimming a Buckeye Mop jig/YoDaddy trailer around shallow cover. We got a few keepers around mid day flipping shallow wood with a YoMamma and a YoDaddy including a good 3lber that Chris caught. The last couple of hours the current started so we went to the ledges and caught a couple of big ones on the Spro BigDaddy Crank. We had a blast! Its always good to fish a fun local tournament with Chris and jack'em up! Well next week is the PAA Neely Henry tournament and I'm ready to go.  I'm feeling the momentum gaining and I want to get a big win before this year is over. This could be the one...

7/17/2011

Jill and I just got in from the ICAST show and we are wore out! The show opened every morning at 9am and lasted until 6. I did tons of interviews, product videos and even filmed one commercial. After the show closed each night it was a race back to the room to shower up for dinner with sponsors and their customers and then hanging out with friends in the casino at the Hilton. It was a marathon of promotions and PR! I spent time in everyones booth including Boomerang Tools, BassMinder Products, Buckeye Baits, Carrot Stix, AbuGarcia, Sunline, Spro/Gamakatsu and Big Bite Baits. From what I saw last week, the fishing industry is in great shape and all of my sponsors are doing even better. I've got the best group of sponsors in the industry and if you were at ICAST you would have seen why. We all had the coolest most innovative new products in the show. Please go to all of their websites and check out what is new for next year! Big Bite introduced a few new baits that got everyone's attention. The 8" Finesse Worm is one that I'll be adding to my arsenal. It's a longer, bulkier version of the 6" worm that is still small enough to get plenty of bites, but large enough to get the Big Bites that I need. Also, Kriet designed a new drop shot worm called the Shakin Squirrel.  It's a small streamlined worm made with super soft plastic and comes in colors that no other manufacturer can make without hand pouring the molds. It will get bites under the toughest conditions. Big Bite is always working on bringing us new products that will give us an edge on the water. If there is any type of bait that you would like to see, then let me know on Facebook or RussLane23@att.net. As always, keep checking in for more updates on Life in the Elite Lane.

7/11/2011

Even though the Elite Series regular season is already over, I've still been very busy lately. Last week I was doing some filming up in Michigan. The smallmouth were up shallow and smokin topwaters and Big Bite Jerk Minnows. It was allot of fun and the show should be great. I also just checked into my hotel out in Las Vegas where I'll be working at the ICAST Show. This is where all of the major and upcoming companies come to showcase their new products for the next year. It's cool to be able to see some of the new tackle before it hits the shelves. This week Spro will be unveiling my new crank bait, the BigDaddyCrank. It should be on the shelves at Cabelas, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro and many other retailers in the coming weeks. I also hope to go over plans for some new and exciting baits with Big Bite. We came out with the YoDaddy earlier this year and it has been a big hit. We also find out this week who the 4 guys are that will be voted into All-Star Week. No matter what happens, I appreciate everyone's votes. This is just an opportunity to make a sizeable donation to The Make a Wish Foundation that I may not otherwise be able to afford. Keep checking in and I'll let you know what's going on in Life in the Elite Lane.

6/21/2011

"The Elite Series regular season is now over and even after all double qualifiers it looks like I'm going to barely miss the Classic. I've never had a season where I lost so many "game changing" fish. If I could have landed half of the fish I lost at Wheeler I would have easily won instead of finishing 7th. Oh well, my fishing is as strong as ever. I'm making all the right decisions and throwing all the right baits that you need to win. The rest is out of my control. We've got Opens, PAA's and a couple of FLW events left this year to get it all turned around. There is one event left that I really want to be a part of but I'm going to need your help to get me there. It's the Bassmaster All-Star event here on Lake Jordan and the AL River. To get me in you have to log into Bassmaster.com everyday and vote. If I win the All-Star event then I will donate $25,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation. So come on and help me make this season a success while making someone else's dreams come true. Jack'em Up!" Russ Lane

6/7/2011

"The first 2 practice days are complete out here on the AR River. I practiced till dark, got a bite to eat, took a shower and it's already 11:00 o'clock. I've got to be up at 4:00 to be on the water by 6:00.  I worked so hard in the 100 degree heat that my legs are having some awful painful cramps.  I jumped up from the bed around midnight last night and it felt like my leg was about to break in half. Getting a bad cramp right now as I type. Well I could sleep in and rest my legs tomorrow or I could ignore it and get right back out there..... Pain heals but glory lasts forever... I'll be on the water at daylight. 5 Big Bites!!!!!" Russ Lane

6/2/2011

"Sorry it's been a while since my last blog. This season has been a blurr since the Classic in Feb. I've been outside reorganizing the Big Bite truck and boat for the last 2 Elite Series events starting next week. First up is the Arkansas River which should be some great shallow water flipping. Sounds like a job for the YoDaddy. The last event is Lake Wheeler. This is the one that I've been waiting on all year! With the new format of winning an event and you're in the Classic, this is my best opportunity to do so. We've already got 95-100 degree days here in Bama so by then it should be an offshore tournament. Like most TN River lakes you first have to figure out the productive depth and then try and find as many schools as possible. 3 rods, my new Spro Big Daddy Crank, a Buckeye Football Jig with a YoDaddy trailer and a big Kriet Tail Worm. We've still got a shot at the Classic and a win so I'm excited and prepared for the next 2 weeks.  

I also want to tell you a little about what I was doing last week. I went to Troy AL with several other pros to the Outdoors Without Limits event. This is an organization that takes injured or less fortunate people and give them an opportunity to go fishing and hunting and just have an awesome experience in the outdoors. The main goal is for everyone to leave with a smile. I fished for 2 days with a 20 year old young man named Clifton Brady. He was in a 4-wheeler accident in his early teens that changed his life forever. I was nervous when we first got out on the water but when Big C, as I called him, reeled in his first fish on a Big Bite finesse worm I knew we were going to have a blast. He laughed the whole time and so did I. 

I also for a brief moment met a 22 year old good lookin dude, named Chase Free.  He was in a wheel chair. I've talked to him on Facebook some and his story is shocking. 2 months ago Chase was on the way back home from a hunt where he was a volunteer himself for Outdoors Without Limits.  He was in an accident that for the moment has him paralyzed from the waist down. This is a kid that was doing volunteer work at the young age of 22.  Later I learned that he had a 94 mph fastball too and was supposed to go overseas to an ALL Star game. These are games that gather some of the biggest prospects for the major league scouts to get a better look at. He was scheduled to be there in June. I hope to get on the water with him soon. Life is full of surprises some good, some not so good. Take a friend, a child or even a stranger fishing whenever you can. You never know when it may be your last chance. Jack'em Up!!" Russ Lane

4/7/2011

"This blog will be a little short but its a quarter til 10:00 and I gotta get some sleep for tomorrow. I've caught all of my fish on the Big Bite YoDaddy! Thanks to Scott and Dennis at Big Bite Baits for giving me full input on the shape and design needed to give me the confidence bait I have been looking for. Most folks know me as a cranker because I don't usually have a flip stick in my hand. I have the absolute best setup for a flipping rig that you will ever see: 7:1 Revo Premier spooled with the deadliest braid on the market, Sunline FX2 braid. Pair them with an 8ft Carrot Stix and a YoDaddy with a Gammakatsu 5/0 Straight Shank and i know that i have the best setup for flipping that money can buy! I may not be the best flipper on tour but when i'm forced to do it, my whole setup all the way down to the YoDaddy gives me an advantage. Thanks again to all of my sponsors and especially Big Bite for giving me the tools I need to compete at this level. I'm the last man in the cut here at Pickwick and there is no where to go but up. Ill let you know if i Jackem Up!" Russ Lane

4/3/2011

"I've had a couple of weeks off before I leave out for Pickwick and Toledo Bend this week. You know, I was bummed when I got back from the Florida swing and was sitting around thinking what I needed to do to straighten myself out. It was obvious, I just needed to go launch the boat at Lake Jordan with no preconceived ideas of how to catch them and just have some fun. Well for three days in a row, thats exactly what I did! A new friend of mine from KY, Tim Foster, came down on Thursday and Friday and we absolutely had a ball. Tim wanted me to help him learn how to figure out what the fish are doing quickly. He is a business man and doesn't get as much time on the water as he would like so he didn't want to waste any time trying to find fish before he actually started doing some catching. We caught a handful of nice largemouths flipping the YoDaddy(Hematoma) around the bank grass right off the bat. Tim even caught a 4lber behind me on a Kriet Tail Lizard. This was fun and easy, but I told Tim that hypothetically if this was practice for a tournament that he should look for a backup pattern in case the weather or fishing pressure changes those shallow largemouths. So we put away the flipping sticks and put on a Spro Little John deep diving plug and a Buckeye football jig with a YoDaddy trailer. The first few places we tried we didn't get bit but it didn't matter to me, we were having fun and were just pretending that we were practicing for a tournament. We kept looking out deep and finally we hit a big school of giant spotted bass. All 3-5lbers! After that it was on big time, we found about 5 more places that were loaded with them. It was a blast, they were crushing the Spro crank and you could get a bite on almost every cast with the Buckeye/YoDaddy jig. He wanted to learn how to go out and find fish quickly for his local derby's back in KY and that's exactly what I had showed him. Until I got a call that evening from my best friend Chris I didn't realize that I might have learned as much the past 2 days as Tim did. Chris said, "Hey man, there's a 40 boat tournament on Jordan tomorrow, wanna fish it?" We smoked'em, 19lbs and 1st place, and more important we had a blast! I realized then that in practice and the tournament the most important things to remember are to keep an open mind, go out relaxed, have fun and keep my confidence baits in my hand. If you do this, I guarantee you'll get more Big Bites in your local tournaments!" Russ Lane

3/25/2011

"We are back home from the recent FL swing and not a minute too soon for me. The Harris Chain and the St. Johns fished as small as any bodies of water I've ever been too. One thing I have always struggled with and usually stayed away from is fishing in a crowd. Sometimes in FL the fish get bunched up in really small areas and you almost have to be there to be competitive. The smart thing to do is to work really hard in practice to find a pattern or an off the wall type deal to at least have a decent tournament. The problem is though usually you are taking away an opportunity to win, and that ain't my style. We've got Pickwick and Toledo Bend coming up next and these two events should be a lot of fun. These lakes are huge and there will be big schools of fish all over that guys will have to themselves. I'll be looking for places to catchem on Spro crankbaits and a Buckeye jig with a YoDaddy as a trailer. I've got confidence on these lakes with these baits so I'll be out for blood on the next swing. 5 Big Bites a day is all it takes!" Russ Lane

3/8/2011

"Last night I arrived here in Tavares FL where we're about to start the 1st Elite Series event on the Harris Chain of Lakes. Today I went to get supplies for the week, played with my tackle in the Big Bite/Phoenix/Yamaha rig and really just took it easy. Over the last month or so according to Internet fishing reports and local tournament results there have been some huge bags of fish weighed in. I'm still a little skeptical though even after reading about some 30 something pound bags being brought in. Temperatures have been very warm here for at least 2 full moons. That means that there should be a ton of fish that have already spawned and could get the early post spawn blues. Also the next full moon is not until we get to the next event, plus they are forecasting east winds in the tournament. Don't get me wrong, there will be some big bags weighed in, but I believe that the key to winning this week will be consistency. An area where I can catch 15-17lbs a day should put me very close to the top. That's my goal anyway. Jack'em Up!" Russ Lane

2/22/2011

"Ok, I'm through pouting now. Back home and getting my mind back on track for the regular season. Like everyone, I've had a handful of bad tournaments in my career, but at least I know what I did wrong in this one. Usually after a bad one you leave scratching your head and wondering what just happened. In this Classic the problem was simple, I just didn't trust my instincts. When the conditions tell you to go, YOU GO! Never second guess your instincts. Sometimes even though you don't get bites in practice, you have to trust that the changing conditions are going to send the fish your way. The winning spot was the most obvious place to win that tournament that I've ever seen for when the conditions would get right. Practice was cold and the fishing was really tough. I let getting a few bites in one area completely throw me off my game plan of staying in Catouatchie Creek. The area I started in did not have the potential to win and deep down I knew it. After a fog delay, an hour long run and a few missed opportunities it was too late to make the adjustment. On day 2 I made the move, caught a great bag of fish and even had a 7lb 12oz fish that was the biggest of the day. A little redemption felt good, sorta. Lesson learned and it wont happen again any time soon. The cool thing is that I caught a bunch of fish that day on our new Yo'Daddy! The deal was swimming it on a 1/4 oz weight and flipping it into the holes in the grass. When you're around'em, they will eat it! I've got so much confidence in this bait. I'm looking forward to the first couple of Elite events in Florida with this bait. Flipping and sight fishing could be the deal and you can't have a better bait in your hand for those techniques. I'm gonna Jack'em Up on the Yo'Daddy!!" Russ Lane

2/10/2011

"It's that time again! Time to put the huntin stuff away and start another season on the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series. We've got some new venues and some that we haven't visited for several years. I'm excited about them all and have a couple that I'm really looking forward to. But before I get too far ahead, there is one little ole 50 boat tourney that's bout to get kicked off next week that I can't wait to get started. It's BASSMASTERS CLASSIC time! You would think after 6 years on the Elite Series with 4 Classics qualified for, Big Daddy would be a little more relaxed and laid back about this one. Nope, I'm as pumped up about this LA Delta Classic as I was at Lay Lake last year. The Bassmaster Classic to me is the pinnacle, the top of the heap, it's the World Series of bass tournaments. You win this one and lives will change. Not just the anglers life, but his family's life. The sponsors that stand by you from year to year will reap the financial benifits that they so deserve. I'm also excited about this Classic because I have a new sponsor in Phoenix Boats. Powered with the Yamaha SHO, this is the slickest ride I have ever been in. And finally after months of work, Big Bite Baits has created the confidence bait that I've been wanting. It's called the YoDaddy!, named after the Yomama which everyone knows has been a favorite of mine. The YoDaddy! is designed to be used as a flipping bait, a Football jig trailer and a swimming jig trailer. When you can take a bait like this and fish it in so many different ways then you begin to get confidence in it. The YoDaddy! is my confidence bait.... If you're attending the Classic Expo in New Orleans, please stop by the Big Bite Baits booth and ask to see the YoDaddy! I think you'll be excited too." Russ Lane

1/11/2011

"Well here we are in the middle of Jan and if you are a die hard fisherman like I am, you're starting to get impatient. Spring isn't too far away, but we've still got cold water and air temps for several weeks to come. If you live in the South where the lakes never freeze over there's no reason why you should sit around and wait for perfect conditions. I like to go out a few days this time of year to get all of my equipment in order and hopefully catch a few fish to curb the winter anxiety. If you understand what is actually going on underwater this time of year it really is easy to know what to do to catch a few fish. The water is very cold, 35-45 degree range and that makes the bass and the bait extremely sluggish. They are not in the mood to chase and are looking for a place to feel comfortable.  It's time to put down the crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits and sloooow doooown. I've caught some huge bass this time of year on a black and blue Buckeye Mop jig with a Yo'Mamma as a trailer.  I know what you're thinking, when it's tough I need to downsize. WRONG, this is the time to offer up a big meal with an ultra slow presentation. Normally you're not going to go out and get a bunch of bites anyway so why don't you try and fish for a few Big Bites? I pull off the small pinchers in the middle of the Yo'Mamma then seperate the claws so that they will spread out on the fall. With the bulky living rubber skirt and the modifications to the Yo'Mamma, this jig will glide on it's way down. I throw it on a 7' Carrot Stick Heavy rod/Abu Garcia Revo Premier and use 20lb Sunline Shooter Flourocarbon. The vast majority of the fish will be on any type of rock you can find in 5-10ft. Mostly main lake points, channel swings or just inside the mouth of major creeks. Also try and fish rocky areas that are in direct sunlight for most of the day. Rocky hard bottoms hold heat and it may only take a degree or two to make a bass feel more comfortable. You don't want to put a lot of action into this bait. Just a slow steady drag while keeping in contact with the bottom is what will trigger a strike. There's something about the big bulk of the Mop jig skirt with the bulky body and separated claws of the Yo'Mamma that the big'uns just can't stand. Don't sit around waiting for the perfect conditions, go out and give the fish what they want. You won't believe how hard they hit this bait!" Russ Lane

12/7/2010

"This past weekend I drove down to New Orleans and looked around for a few days. Since the Bassmaster Classic will be in late Feb I didn't do very much fishing. The conditions will obviously be different and the fish that time of year should be in a late pre-spawn to early spawn phase. Over the years I've learned that you stand to do much better in a tournament if you are able to fish with baits and techniques that you enjoy and consider to be your strengths. My absolute two favorite techniques are flipping matted vegetation and winding some sort of crankbait. From what I saw in the LA Delta, there will be three particular baits that I'll have on the deck of my Phoenix 721.  A Spro Aruku Shad 65 lipless crankbait, a Big Bite YoMamma and the new flipping bait that we have been working on at Big Bite.  I saw tons of areas that were set up with hydrilla, milfoil and matted hyacinths. Some of these areas had clean water, some dirty, some were very shallow and some were deeper than others. Some were in narrow canals and other areas were huge wide open lakes.  A few of the areas were at least a hundred mile run by boat and some were only 5 miles away. When practice starts for the Classic on Feb 11th, I'll have to consider all of these variables and include the current weather conditions when deciding where I want to fish.  Due to fishing pressure and extremely long runs, this tournament may not be won in the area that has the most and biggest fish. You've got to find the right scenario for a 3 day event with 50 of the best fishermen in the world.  I believe that I've discovered several areas that have the potential to produce all three days of the Classic. One thing is for sure, I'll be cranking my Aruku Shad and flipping a YoMamma until I get'em figured out!" Russ Lane

11/5/2010

"This is that crazy time of year for a professional angler when your job turns from chasing down green fish all over the country to sitting behind a desk and taking care of the business side of the job. You say what? Russ Lane sitting behind a desk like a normal human being? No way! Yes, that is where I'll be for the majority of the next couple of months, stuck behind a desk. Some of the desk work is not very fun, like doing year end media reports, scheduling next seasons tournaments (hotels and registration), coordinating the sale of this years boat and Yamaha engine and finalizing next years sponsor contracts. Not all that interesting, but a vital part of Russ Lane Fishing. Then there's the fun and exciting part of the desk job. I've talked about this in several of my blogs this year and now is when the ideas and brainstorming on new bait designs become a reality. New baits with Big Bite and a crankbait that I've always wanted with a company to be named later. This is tedious work to say the least. Exact drawings to scale have to be made with measurements down to the millimeter. Shape, weight and density all have performance influences when you add H2O turbulence. (I thought I would impress you with some words that I heard when I was in college that I don't really know the meaning of.)  But, since I can't even spell aeronautics engineer, these effects can only be seen through trial and error.  I've fished enough plastics and crankbaits over the last 20yrs that I know exactly what I need to be competitive on the Elite Series. When all of the desk work is done and I have tested the prototypes then I'm extremely confident that I'll have a few more baits that will give me an advantage against the best fisherman in the world.  If these baits can do that for me, think what they will do for you! Jack'em Up!" Russ Lane

10/19/2010

"...I won" Russ Lane 

10/18/2010

"Today was supposed to be about a little fun fishing with a couple of friends and relaxing at Lake Jordan. After catching a 4lb spot on our first stop of the morning I realized that some time today there would be no more "relaxin easy goin fishin" and a tournament would break out in the Big Bite Basscat!  3 and 4lb spots were chasing shad all over the lake and every time a school would come up it was a mad race to see who could catch the first one!  Between Stan, Chris and I we must of caught 30 fish today on all kinds of topwater baits. It's good to be able to go out when the fish are easy to catch and just have a great time with nothing on the line. Tomorrow I'm headed over to West Point Lake with Scott Montgomery of Big Bite Baits. I've got an Elite event there next May so I wanted to just ride over and take it easy you know, just look around. Scott said he wanted to tag along since he has a tournament there coming up in a few weeks and maybe we could play around with some of the new baits that we're working on.  I'm kinda wondering if, well, maybe another tournament will break out tomorrow? I'll let you know who wins..." Russ Lane 

10/13/2010

"I really wanted to have a great finish at Seminole especially since it was the last event of the year. With only a day and a half of practice I just wasn't quite able to get into the flow of practice and the tournament. You ask, "what does that mean?" Well, when you go to a hydrilla lake in the fall of the year, it is almost automatic that the tournament will be won flipping matted hydrilla.  95% of the Open field knew this so with a week of practice for most, everyone was practicing on all of the obvious places. Now I'm going to get in depth. My first practice day was Tues, which was right on top of a major cold front. Major cold fronts, strong winds and Florida strain largemouths mean you are lucky if you get a bite at all.  Around a dozen flipping bites on obvious places during a cold front with stable weather on the way for the tournament, to me, meant that I was well on my way to a great finish. The very most important variable in tournaments is fishing pressure. My mistake was, I didn't factor that into my limited practice time. The 3 "obvious" areas that I got bites in were destroyed by other competitors. I should have spent my day and a half of practice looking for more obscure or out of the way areas to flip.  One good area to yourself will almost always beat three great areas that you have to share. This is one of the "secrets of the pros", so don't tell anyone! I got most all of my bites last week flipping a bait that most people wouldn't think of. 4 fish over 7lbs in 4 days (2 of which were my fault that I lost during the tournament) were on the new Cane Thumper swimbait. See image below for my rig.  I had it rigged with a 1oz tungsten weight and a 5/0 Gamakatsu straight shank hook on 65lb Big Game Braid, 7'6" American Rodsmiths flipping stick and a Abu Garcia Revo. The Cane Thumper was designed to be a finesse style swimbait, but it also has the perfect profile, size and action to make a great flipping bait. Pick up a bag or two at Academy and I think you'll like it." Russ Lane 

10/4/2010

"The Toyota Classic was a great tournament for us. I finished 10th after having a really tough practice. As soon as the weigh in was over I jumped in my truck and drove till I got tired. After 9 more hours of driving today I arrived in Bainbridge GA for the BASS Open on Lake Seminole. As soon as I checked in the hotel I started getting the Big Bite boat packed and organized. After that I returned a few phone calls, got a bite to eat and now it's 11:00. Since I made the final cut in TX, now I only have a day and a half to practice for the Open. It's the last event for me this year so I really want to finish up strong. Just got a wake up call for 5:00, good night...." Russ Lane 

9/26/2010

"We just finished up our meeting tonight for the TX Toyota Classic. The biggest names in the sport are here this week so the competition is going to be tough. I think the fishing Is going to be a little slow the way the conditions are setting up. No chance of rain and a cool front on the way means high pressure and bright skies. Looks like flipping docks or even some offshore cranking to me. One things for sure, we're in TX so there will be some big fish weighed in this week. No matter what the conditions I'll be fishing for Big Bites in this one." Russ Lane 

9/2/2010

"Here at Big Bite we're still working on a few new baits to help me and you become more successful on the water. If done correctly, this is a slower process than you may think. We want these baits to be the total package! A bait has to have the right action for it's application, the profile needed to effectively penetrate the target cover and perform efficiently with the hook for an optimum landing ratio.  Even though I've been busy the last couple of weeks, this has been a fun time for me. Time away from the water is good for my game. The fire is already starting to burn so when I get on the water for the Toyota Classic in a few weeks I'll be ready to Jack'em Up!" Russ Lane 

8/29/2010

"Several people have asked me this question, "are you enjoying your time off?" Of course the answer is "yes," but I wouldn't exactly call these last 2 weeks a vacation.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all, but I've been fairly busy working lately. The whole purpose of "Life in the Elite Lane," is to give my readers a glimpse of what it is truly like to be a professional angler. 

Since I got back from Charlotte, I've had several projects in the works. One is that I've started working on a deep diving crankbait with an extremely successful company in the industry.  I'm honored that they're trusting me with total input in the design.  I've always had an idea of what the perfect all around plug would be like and now I get to own one.  We'll be announcing our partnership very soon. 

Also, I've been working with a company that has developed a tool for anglers that everyone will want to have on the deck of their boat when they see it. Have you ever misplaced a pair of cutters or pliers and lost valuable time looking for them? This is just one of the problems they have eliminated. Hopefully I will be able to tell more in the coming days." Russ Lane 

8/16/2010

"It doesn't always work out like that, but this time I was right. The Floatin Toad got me several Big Bites over the 3 days at Lake Norman. It's late summer and by now those fish that live on boat docks have been slammed all year with jigs and plastics. I could take the Floatin Toad, skip it under there and buzz it by the pilings. They would crush it! A few good ones each morning on the toad and some crankin fish later each day lead to my sixth top 10 this year! Just remember, it sometimes may be obvious to everyone where the fish will be, but you may have to do something different to get them to bite. Jack'em Up!!" Russ Lane 

8/8/2010

"The last time I fished Lake Norman was my rookie season in 2005.  The first day of the tournament we had blizzard like conditions with a high around 20 degrees. They were eating the paint off of a shallow running crankbait.  I think I finished 15th, one place behind VanDam.  Next week will be totally different of course with temps in the 90's and high water temps too.  I'm looking forward to this PAA event because the fishing will be really tough and that means that if you can figure out one little deal to generate a few "Big Bites", you can really do well.  I've already qualified for the Texas Toyota Bass Classic so I can fish comfortably and not have to worry about points.  One of my favorite things to do in the late summer is fish topwater.  Maybe skippin a Floatin Toad under docks could be the deal? We'll see!!" Russ Lane 

8/2/2010

"This was a week that I'll never forget. Of course I was blessed with my first Elite Series win after getting my rod taken from me and letting the winning fish jump out of my hands and back into the water. It was also great to see friends and family that I haven't heard from in a long time. Thanks so much to everyone for the support this week. Thanks also to the sponsors that chose to stick with me through a couple of rough years till I got things straightened out. Losing the AOY in the final moments stung a bit, but now I know it can be done.  A near Classic win and AOY title in one season, I just needed a few more "Big Bites."  This week I'll start working with Big Bite on a few more baits for our lineup.  I'm excited to help design the baits that I'll be competing with.  Next up is the PAA event on Lake Norman so I'll be letting you know what's going on there. Jack'em Up!" Russ Lane 

7/29/2010

"Hi! It's Jill - The blog will come from me today because Russ' schedule is so hectic, he hasn't had a minute to spare. His phone hasn't stopped ringing for the past 2 weeks. They haven't had a break since this whole thing started last Wednesday. He's still very much excited about the win on Lake Jordan last week; but at the same time, he has to climb down off of the cloud and get ready for the river:)  It's going to be tough because of the late start - but more fan friendly - and that's really what the sport is about!  Even though we are at home, it still feels like he's off at a tournament.  He's gone from daylight until dark. The kids and I only get to see him for a few minutes a day:(  It's all worth it though! We'll probably be tired of him on his first day off!  Ha ha - just kidding!  Keep Russ in your prayers! My prayer since February has been for Russ to win AOY - even when it seemed impossible........:-)" Jill Lane 

7/16/2010

"The last 3 days have been great here at ICAST 2010. There were a lot of exciting new products showcased. Spro has an awesome new shallow running crankbait that I'll be buying a few of and Big Bite unveiled a few new cutting edge baits that will be must haves in my arsenal. The Flying Squirrel, Cane Thumper and the Sugar Cane are a few of the ones you should take a look at.  Now it's time to start preparation for the post season events and I'm jacked up for it. Spooling rods, organizing tackle and some minor boat maintenance is what I'll be working on the next few days." Russ Lane 

7/14/2010

"I'm sitting here at the LasVegas Hilton relaxing a bit before I head on over to the ICAST Show. For those who don't know, this is where all of the leaders in the tackle industry come to showcase there brands in front of the tackle retailers. I love coming here to get an early look at some of the hot new baits for the season. Everyone here at Big Bite is working on new colors and designs to keep you and me ahead of the game. Check back later for a full report on ICAST!" Russ Lane 

7/12/2010

"Jill and I are about to leave out for Las Vegas. If you happen to be at ICAST this week come by and see me at the Big Bite booth!  Don't forget to vote for me in the Toyota Fan Favorites competition.  I appreciate every vote" Russ Lane 

7/2/2010

"I just finished up pre-practice for the post-season events on Jordan and the AL River. I did more looking than fishing, just trying to remember all of the subtle things that helped me win so many tournaments over the years on these two lakes. Although, when I did make a few casts, I got several bites. It's been a few years since I was in the groove of what the fish were doing at home but after only a couple of days on the water, I feel like I could really catch'em good. I'm looking forward to using some of the new baits and techniques that I've had success with out on the tour. A Kreit Tail Worm, Floatin Toad and of course the Yo'Mamma should be great baits on both lakes.  These two events are going to be allot different than the regular season events. Only 12 boats on the lake and 2 days of competition should allow me to have a wide open approach. With 100 boats and 4 days to fish, you never seem to have enough fish to last. I don't have to hold anything back this time! Also, keep checking in after the post-season events are over. I'll be competing in a few PAA events, a BASS Open and with a top 15 in the Elite AOY standings I have automatically qualified for the Toyota TX Bass Classic in October. We've got lot's of fishing left so stay tuned...." Russ Lane 

6/21/2010

"I can't believe it, we made it to the AOY post season events! I'll be going up against names like Hackney, Martens, VanDam, Klein and Reese for a shot at the Angler of the Year Title at home on Lake Jordan and the AL River.  My success this season is all because of my family and sponsors. Big Bite, Buckeye, American Rodsmiths, Costa, Abu Garcia, Trilene, BassCat and Yamaha all make products that I trust and believe in.  My mother and dad are always taking care of things for me when I'm on the road.  Mowing the lawn, checking the mail, whatever I need, they're always there.  Jill, Jentzen and Jayce, they've done more for me than anyone will ever know.  All of the little things that they do make my job seem so easy.  These next two tournaments are for you, my sponsors, my family.  Let's get it on!" Russ Lane 

6/19/2010

"What a wild week so far, wasted 2 long practice days on the river then we moved to Ft Gibson because of flooding. One day of practice and these guys are jackn'em up! 19-10 on day 1 and trailed Biffle for the lead by 1oz! The field is cut to 12 for Sunday and I'm in 9th. Jill, the kids and I are praying this will get us into post season action for a shot at the AOY Title. One more day, a few Big Bites and we'll be there!" Russ Lane 

6/16/2010

Today's entry comes from Russ Lane's wife Jill:  "It's 5:30am and I'm taking Russ to the boat ramp at FT. Gibson - a lake he's never even seen before. The tournament on the Arkansas River was cancelled due to the flooding. Debris, logs, etc... were awful and very unsafe for the anglers. Great call by BASS:)  With only one day of practice, this is definitely a game changer! Russ has had to totally rearrange his entire boat - with my help! Russ sits in 15th in the AOY standings. Praying that he does REALLY well in this tournament and makes it to the TOP 12 post season events:-)" Jill Lane 

6/10/2010

"Sometimes when you know the conditions are changing it is hard to practice for that. I'm fishing deep but off the river channel where the water was muddy in practice. Big Bites were hard to come by then but now the water is clearing up and the fish seam to be heading my way. 15lbs to 26lbs, let's hope there's more schools coming tomorrow!" Russ Lane

6/5/2010

"Jill, the kids and I just got into Paris. No not France, we're in TN at KY Lake for the next to last Elite Series event. This is my chance to make a big move in the points to try and make the top 12 post season events. There's no doubt in my mind that crankin' and a big Kriet Tail worms will be the deal this week. I'll have to get 5 Big Bites a day here to have a chance to fish on Sunday. This is gonna be fun!" Russ Lane

5/23/2010

"As I expected, I had to share water with at least half the field this week at Clarks Hill. Most everyone in the Top 25 had at least one school to themselves. So I'm proud of a 22nd place finish! Sometimes you just have to fish harder than everyone else. A Big Bite Jerk Minnow caught the bulk of my weight this week. I'm moving up in the points and headed to one of my favorite lakes next. Hoping KY Lake could be the one......." Russ Lane

5/19/2010

"I've spent the last 3 days at Clarks Hill lookin for schools of fish and only found a couple. The problem is how many other guys found'em and I'm boat 40. I'm so ready for a win, but if I get out of here with a check I'll be happy. Prayin for Big Bites!" Russ Lane

5/16/2010

"I guess 26lbs and a 5th place finish wasn't worth air time on today's Bassmasters show. Just more motivation to wreck'em this week at Clarks Hill! We're several weeks later than we usually come here so I'm expecting fishing to be a little different. An open mind, a few Big Bites, and we'll get the job done this week...!"  Russ Lane

5/09/2010

"I'm not superstitious or anything but I told Jill 2 weeks ago that I wasn't shaving until I got a check. After a check at Pickwick, I decided not to shave until I got a Top 10. After 26+lbs today and a 5th place finish at the "Big G," I don't have to look like a redneck from lower Alabama that fishes for a living. I don't know if Jill is happier about the money we won or my close shave??? The last 2 weeks have been incredible! Now we're sitting 27th in the AOY standings before heading to Clarks Hill a week from today. Unlike Guntersville, one Big Bite will go a long way at the Hill. After a few days rest, I'll be ready to Jack'em Up!"  Russ Lane

5/02/2010

"Yesterday was interesting at Pickwick. A 45 mile run in 3-4ft waves, lightning bolts that you could actually see hit the hill sides and missing a tornado at the Natchez bridge by only a few minutes was a little stressful to say the least. Anyways, the fish didn't seem to mind and another 14lbs was good enough for 10 grand. We're on Guntersville this week and I'm sure the weights will be crazy as always. The "Big Bite" will be on fo sho!"  Russ Lane

4/30/2010

"My Marshall counted 49 fish that I caught today at Pickwick. One of them was a 4lb smallmouth. Sitting in 31st with 29lbs, I've still got a chance to fish on Sunday. I love the TN River!"  Russ Lane

4/25/2010

"Is lake lanier as good a spotted bass lake as the Coosa River? Well after what I saw this week, I would have to say yes! I was working with some outdoor writers over there and we had a ball. The spots were on bed in full force and you could see them easily in 8ft of water. Most of them I caught on a 3inch fighting frog and a 4inch cane stick. I used a 1/4oz weight/ 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook on 12lb Trilene 100% flourocarbon. It only took a few pitches to catch most of them. Main lake islands on the lower end seem to be the best areas. We had lots of 3lbers and several 4s. Scott Montgomery caught one over 5! Maybe one day BASS will have an Elite event there. I hope..."  Russ Lane

4/19/2010

"Everyone would probably assume that after a close call for a Classic win, having the "2nd" biggest fish of the tournament 3 times, blowing a top 10 at the Delta and missing $20 grand worth of cuts by less than 2 lbs total in the last two events that I would be at least slightly upset.  Well you're right! I'm madder than #^N%$a!!!  

Oh well, things aren't as bad as they seem.  I'm fishing as well as I ever have now and keeping myself in position for strong finishes.  It hurts the pocket book to not cash a check but you have to look at the big picture. I'm only 65 points out of the Classic and we aren't even halfway yet.  Lots of fishing left and it's about time to pull out the big crank which other than flippin a YoMama is my favorite thing to do.  We've got Pickwick next week and there will be many ways to catchem there.  It's a big lake with several types of cover and we'll be in the middle of pre-post and spawn season.  I'm not really mad, just wanting a win more now than ever.  A few more "Big Bites" and my win is coming soon!"  Russ Lane

4/15/2010

"It's 5:00 on Thursday morning and I'm on my way to the ramp for the first tournament day at Smith Mountain. As usual, the weather man got it wrong. With a cold front coming in "unannounced" yesterday, the water temperature dropped 15 degrees. I've found lots of fish on beds and hopefully I can catch at least 5 good ones. Well I have to go now, just hit some thick fog on the road. Looks like a MAJOR fog delay!"  Russ Lane

4/11/2010

Big Daddys out on the road again and this time were at smith mountain lake in va. Sat morning I got up at 3:00 and was on the road by 4:00. Things were going smooth until I got to Greene county tn. I was about to pull out of a gas station when all of the sudden someone slammed into the rear of my boat! As soon as I got out of my truck I realized what the deal was. There was a mid twenties woman stumbling around obviously spaced out on whatever drug she had taken. She had 2 babies in the back of the car that were just old enough to get out on their own. One of the babies was headed for the busy street before I ran and grabbed her. Momma never noticed! This woman was so fried that she could hardly stand or talk. If she would have made it onto the road I'm pretty sure something bad would have happened to those kids. Thank God she didn't. Luckily for my boat the damage wasn't too bad. She dead centered the lower unit on my Yamaha and it bent the prop and skeg a little. Since yamahas are so bullet proof it almost cut the front of her car in half. Her car had a lot more damage than my engine. (aww, I hate that lol!) anyway, no insurance from her so it was an expensive drive to smith mountain. I've got plans though on making that up this week. The weather is great and the fishing should be even better. Hopefully practice will clue me into a few "big bites" and maybe this will be the one."  Russ Lane

4/06/2010

"Workin on tackle and baits this week for Smith Mountain VA.  Feelin good 'bout this one..."  Russ Lane

 

3/31/2010

"Just completed an article with bassmasters on my tips for fishing with spinnerbaits.  I love to use Big Bite's curl tail grubs and fat grubs as trailers on my spinnerbaits.  Check it out at the link below.  Hope they help you land the Big Bite."  Russ Lane

The "Russ Lane on spinnerbaits" story is located at http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster/fishingtips/news/story?page=b_FT_RL_Spinnerbaits

3/21/2010

"Well after a disappointing last week in CA, I'm sitting in a hotel in Sacramento waiting to board the plane tomorrow for Sweet Home Alabama. Clear Lake was a tough one for me to figure out. I threw a variety of swimbaits in practice this week with very little success. On the afternoon of the last practice day I had a few bites flipping a YoMamma to floating mats around reed clumps. I knew that this wasn't a way to win on Clear Lake but for sure the deal for a good tournament. Besides, I've had a lot of good tournaments lately on that bait. I had at least 35 flipping bites over the tournament and givin the same scenario I'd do the same thing again. There won't be many tournaments in my career that when I'm getting that many flipping bites and catching 3-4lbers that I'll miss a check or even a top 10. You've got to fish to your strengths when you're struggling but sometimes it just won't work out no matter what you do. Anyway, I can't wait to get home to see Jill and the kids and start preparing for Smith Mountain. The best way to get over a bad tournament is to go fish another one. I'll be there runnin and gunnin, searching for my next "Big Bite!"  Russ Lane

3/18/2010

"Once again the CA weather man has NO CLUE what he's talking about! About to blast off this morning on Clear Lake and my plans of early morning sight fishing is out the door due to the overnight water temperature dropping 5 degrees. I've got 2 areas where I've seen CA giants swimming around shallow so I'm confident I'll be fishing around them all day. Hopefully the sun will warm the shallows and get the big fish rollin'. Pray for five "BIG BITES!"  Russ Lane

3/15/2010

"37th place at the California Delta was worth $10k, but not quite what I was shooting for.  I was excited to be in 3rd on the first day of the tournament and fully expected to have a chance to win on Sunday.  The big 8 1/2 pounder I caught on the YoMama really helped me out that first day.  Oh well, sometimes the big adjustments that you are forced to make don't go as planned.  Anyway, it's 7 am and I'm about to launch the Big Bite boat at Clear Lake for the first day of practice at the second Elite Series event. I've got one rod rigged with a YoMama and one with a swim bait the size of a Nike tennis shoe! With temperatures warming into the 70's, the pre-spawn bite should be wide open.  All I'm looking for is 5 "BIG BITES."  Russ Lane

3/10/2010

"I am roughing it this week in California.  The cabin I am staying in has no internet service and no TV! The Delta hasn't treated me well so far this week. Winds have been blowing 30 mph everyday. I have only had a few bites each day but I'm still staying positive.  There are a few areas that I still have confidence in. Praying for less wind and more fish!"!"  Russ Lane

3/6/2010

"Jill just dropped me off at the Birmingham airport. About to board the plane for Sacramento, CA where we'll start the first event of the 2010 Elite Series on the California Delta.  I'm more excited about this event than any other for the year.  Flippin and crankin should be the deal!  Solid limits on lipless crankbaits and a few "BIG BITES" on the Yo'Momma is what I'll be looking for...... I'll be missing the family for the next 2 weeks but hoping it'll all be worth it.  Check back here on Wednesday night for my complete practice report.  Good Luck!"  Russ Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 



   

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