The catch gave him the win by a solid 4-pound, 10-ounce margin over Team National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 102-1 and earned $47,671.
“The biggest thing with fishing is that so many times when you’re practicing, you don’t know what your best spot is,” said Hite, who has now won more than $401,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I got to my spot on the first day and put the trolling motor down and went down the bank and started catching them, and they were nice ones. I fished a tule berm that goes along for four miles, and there’s fish in the whole thing. I could just go down the thing forever and catch fish forever.
“I pretty much told myself I was going to stick to that area where nobody’s at,” Hite continued. “Just knowing that you’re fishing and not second-guessing yourself, that’s everything.”
Sticking to what earned him a $125,000 paycheck at the FLW Tour’s Lake Toho event, Hite fished the same 3/8-ounce Phenix Vibrator Jig, a Chatterbait-like bait featuring a black blade with a green pumpkin skirt. He teamed the vibrating jig with a six-inch green pumpkin swimming stickbait.
“That bait is an unbelievable shallow-grass bait,” Hite said. “It’s like throwing a Rat-L-Trap that doesn’t get hung up that you can throw anywhere. And my favorite color for anything is green pumpkin. I think bass eat bluegill all the time, no matter if you’re here, in Florida or anywhere. As long as they were on a reaction bite, I knew I could catch them on it.”
Hite teamed the vibrating jig with a medium-heavy glass rod, which Hite said was vital to his success with the bait.
“When you’re catching 8- and 9-pounders, you need to set the hook hard and get it in their mouths,” Hite said. “You don’t want something that just rips it out of their mouths. You want something that has a tip on it about two feet down and has a good backbone to it.”
Hite opened the tournament in sixth place Wednesday with five bass weighing 28-6. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 22-12 to move up to third place. He then caught five bass weighing 28-0 Friday to make the crucial top 10 cut in second place.
Rounding out the top five pros are Louis Fernandes of Santa Maria, Calif. (20 bass, 99-10, $38,137); Ken Wick of Star, Idaho (20 bass, 93-2, $28,603) and Randy McAbee Jr. of Bakersfield, Calif. (20 bass, 89-6, $19,068).
Overall there were 47 bass weighing 189 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included nine five-bass limits.
Brett Davies of Davis, Calif., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Thursday – a 13-pound, 11-ounce giant. The fish, which is the fourth-largest bass ever caught in an FLW Outdoors event, earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $476.
Sean Stafford of Fairfield, Calif., set the FLW Series single-day catch record — which was first broken on the first day of competition with a 35-pound, 10-ounce sack by Chad Frie of Livermore, Calif. — with a 35-pound, 12-ounce five-bass catch Friday.
The 2008 FLW Series California Delta’s four-day total catch weight of 13,503 pounds, 4 ounces is the fifth-heaviest total catch weight in FLW Outdoors history.
Robert Jones of Clayton, Calif., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Friday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 58 pounds, 11 ounces followed by Aaron Reitz of Soda Springs, Calif., in second place with 15 bass weighing 53-5 worth $9,665.
Jones opened the tournament in fourth place Wednesday with five bass weighing 20-1 while fishing with pro Tim Edington of Bakersfield. On Thursday he jumped to first place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 23-6 while fishing with pro Jim Hawkes of Apache Junction, Ariz. He wrapped up the win Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 15-4 while fishing with Team National Guard pro Tim Klinger of Boulder City, Nev.
“I thought I needed 10 pounds to win, but every time I looked in my bag, those bass kept getting smaller and smaller,” said Jones, who earned his win in only his second FLW Series event. “I didn’t know if I had nine pounds or 15 pounds. I was pretty nervous.”
Jones said he knew the bite during the prefish period was a finesse one, but he hoped he could rely on other methods when the tournament began.
“I love to power fish,” Jones said. “I love to spinnerbait and I love to crank, but I just wasn’t catching big fish on that type of pattern so I stuck with the finesse stuff and I caught the five-pounder that gave me the championship in the last two hours.”
Jones said his big fish came on a junebug-colored creature bait in three feet of water. Klinger focused on areas where current was coming through openings as well as rock walls and tule berms.
“We never went more than two miles from the ramp,” Jones added. “I was hoping my pros would stay close. I was really lucky to have the three pros I did that stayed pretty close to (the ramp).” A 25-year resident of the California Delta region, Jones said he thought he knew the area pretty well, but learned during the tournament that you can always learn more.
“I’ve been driving by just about every area the pros fished and didn’t know there were fish there,” Jones said. “I knew there were fish other places. These guys are just fantastic fishermen and they know how to find the fish.
“The Delta is such a fabulous fishery,” Jones added. “I’m really happy I’m able to live in the area.” Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Greig Sniffen of Saratoga, Calif. (15 bass, 51-10, $8,698); Robert Faaborg of Ramona, Calif. (15 bass, 51-0, $7,732) and James Lima of Reno, Nev. (15 bass, 49-15, $6,765).
Overall there were 559 bass weighing 1,489 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 170 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 58 five-bass limits.
Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday – an 13-pound, 9-ounce largemouth. The fish, which is the fifth-largest bass ever caught in an FLW Outdoors event, earned him the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $290.
Coverage of the California Delta FLW Series tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing April 20. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
The next FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament, hosted by the City of Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism, will be held May 7-10 on Lake Mead in Henderson, Nev. Boats will launch from Callville Bay-Forever Resorts in Las Vegas and the final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 300 E. Lake Mead Drive in Henderson.
After four qualifying events are complete in the National Guard Western Division, the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers will advance to the BP East-National Guard West Fish-Off Nov. 20-22 at a yet to be announced site. There they will face the top 30 pros and 30 co-anglers from the BP Eastern Division for a shot at advancing to the $2 million, 2009 Forrest Wood Cup. The winning pro at the Forrest Wood Cup will earn as much as $1 million – the sport’s biggest award.
Tournament pros aren’t the only ones winning big this season. With the introduction of FLW Fantasy Fishing™, FLW Outdoors® offers anyone the opportunity to enter for their chance to land the catch of a lifetime with the opportunity to win $7.3 million in cash and prizes. Players can become a virtual pro angler by signing up for Player’s Advantage, providing them with exclusive insider information that could guide them to a $100,000 victory at every Wal-Mart FLW Tour® stop and the Forrest Wood Cup. Player’s Advantage will give them an edge over the competition and increase their shot for a $1 million cash grand prize that will be awarded to the FLW Fantasy Fishing cumulative points winner. Those who visit FantasyFishing.com today can sign up for Player’s Advantage and FLW Outdoors will include a $15 Wal-Mart gift card.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.
FLW Outdoors historically maintains a 98 percent live release rate in all of its bass tournaments.