By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Brett Hite proved at Lake Seminole that high-level competitive bass fishing doesn't have to be an extremely complicated endeavor. Just find the right fish-holding locations, use the correct bait and presentation and stuff your livewell with an average of nearly 25 pounds a day.
Those two critical pieces of the puzzle are, of course, often very difficult to interlock. Hite's results so far this year, however, make it appear as if he's found a magic key that reveals the answer to every mystery on each fishery he visits.
His victory in the Bassmaster Elite Series season-opener gave him a win on each major circuit (plus a 6th-place showing at the Lake Hartwell FLW Tour) just a little more than a month into the campaign. He sits atop both Angler of the Year (AOY) races and has pocketed a hefty $243,500.
At Seminole, he threw one bait in a single depth range over one type of cover and dominated the 108-angler field. His 97-10 total for 4 days was 13 pounds more than runner-up Todd Faircloth brought to the scale.
Following are some of the details of his latest triumph.
Hite was a late arrival to Seminole after advancing to the final day at Hartwell. He got on the water at about 10 o'clock on the first of the 3 official practice days and was determined to seek out pre-spawn fish.
He's not a big proponent of sight-fishing under any circumstances, and several factors (most notably the wind and primarily dark skies in the forecast for the event) had him convinced that wouldn't be the main route to contention in this event.
He ran around to various locales for 2 days throwing a ChatterBait, but met with very little success.
For 2 days I did not catch them," he said. "The first day I got one bite and the second day I caught one 5-pounder in the morning and one in the evening. Then finally at about 9:00 on Wednesday I found a couple stretches that had some good ones, and I started running that.
"Sometimes when you get on something the first day of practice, it kind of goes away by the time the tournament starts. This was still fresh and it was a pattern I could run. I knew the right fish for this tournament were pre-spawn, and I just stuck with it and finally dialed it in."
All of the fish he caught at Seminole – in practice and during the tournament – were enticed by a ChatterBait. That bladed jig had played a major role in his victory at Okeechobee as well.
> Day 1: 5, 24-11
> Day 2: 5, 20-11
> Day 3: 5, 26-05
> Day 4: 5, 25-15
> Total = 20, 97-10
Places where Hite could run his ChatterBait pattern were fairly easy to locate on his Humminbird Lakemaster map. He'd drive down main-lake banks looking for places where the depth dropped off abruptly from about 2 to 6 feet or so.
Hite's ChatterBait pattern produced an average of nearly 25 pounds per day.
"After I had a pretty good stringer at 2 o'clock on the first (competition) day, that's what I did for the rest of the day," he said. "I looked for places where I could be a cast away from the bank and be in 6 feet of water. Right on that break is where the grass was, and that's where the fish were, too."
He had about a half-dozen stretches of bank with the right characteristics. One was about half a mile long, a couple others were approximately a quarter-mile and one particularly good one only ran for about 300 yards.
"I'd keep moving unless I got a couple of bites in a specific place. Then I'd put the (Minn Kota) Talons down and make more casts."
He was in 4th place after the opening round as many anglers boosted their sacks with large bed-fish. He came in 4 pounds lighter the following day, but moved to the top of the standings as weights throughout the field fell off considerably.
He took complete command of the event on day 3 despite catching nothing of consequence until 90 minutes before check-in. His four late-day bruisers allowed him to way his biggest sack of the derby and put everybody else at least 9 3/4 pounds in arrears.
Massive leads have been frittered away on the final day of top-level tournaments on numerous occasions, but the remainder of the Top-12 field had little hope at Seminole heading into day 4. Sunday would be nasty – wind-swept and dark with heavy rain on the way – and those conditions would be ideal for Hite's reaction-bait bite.
Indeed, they were. It was determined before the field launched that the day would be shortened to 5 1/2 hours due to the onrushing storm. That proved to be plenty of time for Hite to sack another 26 pounds.
Hite's setup once again included the new Shimano Chronarch Ci4+ casting reel.
Knowing that the intensity of the wind would increase almost by the minute, he fish his most exposed area first and caught a solid limit. He transformed the sack into another spectacular one with 6- and 8-pound kickers at subsequent stops.
Winning Gear Notes
> ChatterBait gear: 7'3" medium-heavy EverGreen Heracles Leopard glass/graphite composite casting rod, Shimano Chronarch Ci4+ casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Elite (black/blue or green-pumpkin), 4 1/2" Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Swimming Senko trailer (green-pumpkin or black blue).
The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – "I think the main thing was fish management, obviously. When I found that pattern at 9 o'clock on Wednesday, that gave me a little more than half a day to run and find more of that type of water, and I was able to go pre-fishing again by 2 o'clock on day 1. That was the day I found the spot where I caught the giant stringer (on day 3) and the spot where I caught them (on the morning of day 4)."
> Performance edge – "The reliability of my Evinrude E-Tec motor for getting me there and back, and also my Humminbird 360. For anybody who fishes grass, it's revolutionary to be able to see in front of you what's going on with the grass before you get there – whether it's coming out of a point or if there's a clump that's isolated to the left or right or if there's a big hole in it. It paints that picture absolutely perfectly and that's a big advantage.
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