Bitter's ace of a hole extends Bassmaster lead

OUTDOORS

September 26, 1992|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

MARBURY -- Jim Bitter of Fruitland Park, Fla., fishing the same 20-foot-wide spot in the Potomac River for the third straight day, widened his lead in the Bassmaster BP Top 100 tournament yesterday.

Bitter, who on Wednesday predicted he would win this $219,000 pro-am, yesterday weighed in 20 pounds, 1 ounce for a three-day total of 55-5.

"The only thing that could bother me [today] is if the wind bucks up," said Bitter, who leads the field by more than 10 pounds.

"I am fishing open water 500 yards from shore, and if the waves get up over three feet, I could be in trouble.

"But if the wind stays down, I will win."

After three days of gusty conditions, the forecast for today is for southwest winds from 10 to 15 knots.

David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., who led the tournament after the first day and was second Thursday behind Bitter, was bumped to third in spite of having a limit of five bass before 8 a.m.

Fritts, who had fished grass lines the first two days, went upriver yesterday.

"The wind is really killing me," said Fritts, who has weighed in 44-2. "It has been just too rough on the river to get around like I would like.

"The way it looks now, I would have to be real lucky [today] to get back in second place, and I think Jim [Bitter] has first pretty well locked up."

After three of the four tournament days, Jay Yelas of Jasper, Texas, is in second place with 44-15.

Bitter was planning to fish another spot first thing yesterday, but when he passed his primary hole, there were three boats close by.

"Jimmy Houston was right inshore of me, and so I couldn't leave," Bitter said.

"I had a limit by 8:30, and I spent quite a while baby-sitting my spot so no one else could get on it."

Bitter said he caught 12 fish and culled seven of them from his spot, a hump that is no more than a foot from the surface at low tide and which is surrounded by 10 to 11 feet of water.

"Plus three stripers and a big carp -- all from that one spot," Bitter said, adding that the stripers were all from six to seven pounds.

The area Bitter is fishing is so small he said that his amateur partners this week each have caught but one fish from the back of the boat.

"Why these fish are concentrated on that little hump, I don't know," Bitter said, "because it is out in the middle of no man's land."

Bitter said he is fishing a Fire-Tiger Bomber and taking all of his fish from the top of the hump.

"I just throw [the lure] right on top of the hump and wind it back real slow," Bitter said. "You can feel it wobble, bouncing off the rocks, and it won't bounce off too many before a fish has got hold of it.

"It is the strangest thing I have ever seen."

Bitter's prediction is almost as unusual. In 25 years of B.A.S.S. tournaments, emcee and B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott said he cannot remember anyone predicting he would win.

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