Hite, of Saluda, S.C., is in the lead after day one of the Bassmaster Elite 50 and the big fish he’s after just love that current. Hite weighed 18 pounds, 3 ounces of bass thanks to a few heavyweights he pulled from the river in what he called a “hero or zero” effort.
“I knew if I could catch five, I’ll be in good shape,” Hite said. “When that water moves, they (big bass) get in position and it’s easy for them to eat. They get on an ambush point and wait for something to float by.”
For many of the 50 best anglers on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, the strong currents were the best spot in a day punctuated by humidity and some close-call lightning strikes.
At Wednesday night’s weigh-in at Stanley-Jensen Stadium, Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., reported that he was surrounded by a white flash on the water but was unharmed and will keep fishing throughout the week. BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon said that anglers are strongly encouraged to take shelter during storms and to go to shore and, if necessary, leave their boats in the case of lightning.
At least one angler said he was completely unaffected by the rough conditions. Tommy Biffle of Waggoner, Okla., is in second place with 17-1. Biffle, who had a five-bass limit by 11:30 a.m., said the weather didn’t slow him at all as he ran the river.
“I’ve got a GPS from Lowrance and in practice, when I’d get a bit, I’d hit it. I’ve got 62 spots,” he said. “I visited about all of them.”
In addition to Hite and Biffle, the top five includes Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., who won the most recent Elite 50 event and brought in 14-15 on Wednesday; Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., with 13-4; and Edwin Evers of Mannsville, Okla., who was the final angler to weigh in and brought 13-2 to the stage.
It wasn’t an easy day for everyone. Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla., won the most recent BASS event on the Alabama River, but weighed only two bass on Wednesday, worth 3-14 and 42nd place.
“I’m coming back tomorrow,” Hill said. “I’m going out with attitude tomorrow, double pockets full.”
Hite’s healthy catch was worthy of the $1,000 Busch Heavyweight Award for each day’s heaviest bag of fish. Mineola, Texas, angler Kelly Jordon picked up another $1,000 for bringing in the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, weighing in at 6-9. If it remains the largest caught this week, Jordon will earn another $1,000 bonus for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.
Daily launches will take place at Cooters Pond at 10 a.m. Daily weigh-ins will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Stanley-Jensen Stadium and are free to the public.
Fans can catch the third event of the Bassmaster Elite 50 series on the Alabama River in two parts, Saturday, June 12 and Saturday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO will be held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, June 5, from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Stanley-Jensen Stadium. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn scholarships. The event and instruction to youngsters will be facilitated by the Alabama BASS Federation.
A popular component of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season is the highly interactive and family-friendly BASS Sponsor Expo area. Sponsors present interactive exhibits and provide a fun family experience for all ages. The Expos take place from 3-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday at the Stanley-Jensen Stadium.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail 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 Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.
Local Sponsors include the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Prattville.
For more information, call BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit Bassmaster.com.