Four different anglers led the event at one point this weekend.
The 2022 edition of Major League Fishing's REDCREST was the third installment of the event and the first time a major outdoor expo coincided with the tournament. The host city for the event was Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the fishing taking place on Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, better known as Grand Lake.
Leading up to the event, the anglers practiced under sunny skies and pleasant conditions before a cold front, wind, and rain moved into the Grove, Oklahoma, area. After two days of practice, the anglers had an off day. When they returned to the lake, the water temperatures had dropped, the lake had risen 3 feet, and the water clarity deteriorated to a chocolate milk color. That was the first of many curveballs for the anglers this week.
The pre-tournament prediction was for tough fishing conditions with fewer bites, but what bit would be quality bass. That held to start the event and throughout REDCREST as Grand Lake kicked out many solid fish.
Bobby Lane won the event with 10 bass for 29 pounds, 14 ounces, on the Championship Round in one of the most dramatic finishes in Major League Fishing history, but first, here is everything that led up to that point.
All 41 anglers in the field fished the first two days of the tournament with the goal of finishing in the top 20 to advance to the Knockout Round. The weather conditions proved challenging with cold conditions and rising water, but Michael Neal led the pack with 20 bass for 57-7.
He relied on a shallow cranking pattern the first day but shifted gears deeper the second day of fishing. Using his forward-facing sonar, he chased fish feeding on baitfish with a "Damiki Rig" with a Big Bite Baits Swimmer Head with a 3.75-inch Big Bite Baits Jointed Jerk Minnow.
The 20-anglers were split into two groups of 10 for the Knockout Rounds. They were vying to finish in the top five to advance to the final day. Each of the two rounds was much different and the fishing was much better for the group of anglers.
Luke Clausen had the most weight in Group A with nine bass for 24 pounds. Clausen caught seven fish in the second period and primarily used a shallow crankbait. The top five anglers in Group B all had more weight than Clausen did a day prior and were led by Jordan Lee with 11 bass for 33-2, caught by fishing a jerkbait on brush piles and fishing a jig around shallow cover.
The field of the final 10 anglers was stacked with both previous REDCREST Champions, all three Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year winners, and Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup winners. Taking the win was a seasoned pro who had none of those big titles until today.
The final period was close, with four different anglers leading at one point in the closest Major League Fishing event in recent history. First, it was Luke Clausen leading before Dustin Connell overtook him for the lead. Then Jacob Wheeler made a run and overtook them both. Bobby Lane rode a solid afternoon bite and caught a 2-0 with just moments to go and held on for the win. He was understandably thrilled to get the big win in such a dramatic fashion.
"Today is as good as it gets," he said. "I've been at this for a long time, and I've never been hungrier for a win like this. This is unbelievable to win a big one finally."
Lane fished a Berkey Frittside crankbait on the last rock in the back of pockets to get to the finals, focusing on depth changes near spawning areas. Late on the final day, he switched to a jig and landed several key bass, including the big fish of the day, a 6-3 just minutes after landing a 3-11.
"I was cranking the rock all week and the drop was anywhere from 2 to 7 feet, but they were right on it," he said.
Lane's win is even sweeter after starting the season with some challenging events.
"It's been a rough year so far with some bad finishes and that starts to play with your mind," he said. "This means the world to me, and I now know that I have what it takes to be a REDCREST Champion."
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