CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A casual observer in the Charlotte Hilton at 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday might have expected to see one or two sleepy-eyed people drowsing over cups of coffee and bemoaning their early wake-up calls. But Wednesday marks the final practice for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer and the anglers gathered for breakfast were wide awake and ready to attack Lake Wylie and find the key to the world championship title.

Even the youngest angler in the field, Arizona's Brett Hite was in attendance and as showed signs of his well-known liveliness. Hite was sitting with Texan Ben Matsubu and rookie Classic qualifier Bink Desaro of Idaho, eating a large plate of bacon and eggs.

"I typically don't eat this heavily in the morning," said Hite, who finished 14th in the 2000 Classic. "I will usually have a bowl of cereal or something. You know, keep it light and take my vitamins."

The 25-year-old chatted with Matsubu and Desaro about his newly acquired elk hunting permit for the 2004 winter season while checking the weather patterns on his cell phone.

"This thing's really cool," he said. "I can hook this up to my laptop and have high-speed internet anywhere. It says here that it's going to be 82 and 71 (degrees) with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms."

Practice for the Classic is all-important for the 53 contenders as it is the last chance to work out their plans for the world championship event that starts Friday with a 6:15 a.m. launch from the Buster Boyd Access Area. Wednesday's practice runs from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

"A lot of guys won't go to their areas because they don't want to be seen," Hite said. "I don't think like that. I think you need to go to your areas and make sure that everything is right. The time for locating new fish is over. I think if I find a pattern that is working on the areas that I already have then I might see a hump that looks similar and try that pattern there as well. After you start to get to know the lake a little bit, you can kind of figure out what will and won't work in certain spots.

"I take practice seriously, but I think it's important to enjoy the Classic. Even if you don't do that well, it only comes around once a year, and not always that often, so you have to enjoy the event as well. Be serious, but know when to have a good time."

Hite will have the best time of all if he can manage to win the Classic and the $200,000 winner's purse. Weigh-ins will be held at the Charlotte Coliseum at 3:30 p.m. and more than 11 hours of television coverage begin with the telecast of Friday's weigh-in at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and continue with a live breakfast show Saturday morning at 7 a.m. ET. A complete telecast schedule is online at

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local Sponsors include the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, Visit Charlotte, the Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority, the Rock Hill Sports and Tourism Council and Time Warner Cable.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit