Bitter's secret 'hump' yields mound of fish for BASSmaster title

September 27, 1992|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

MARBURY -- Jim Bitter, the Florida fisherman who predicted Wednesday that he would win the $219,000 BASSmaster BP Top 100 tournament on the Potomac River, did so yesterday with total catch of 68 pounds, 15 ounces.

"This has been a fantastic week," said Bitter, who weighed in 13-10 yesterday and finished seven pounds, four ounces ahead of runner-up Jay Yelas of Texas.

"I started it by practicing on grass beds, and I was catching a lot of fish on spinnerbaits, so I felt real confident of that. But as you know, we had a pretty good blow here."

The first three days of fishing, in fact, were hampered by gusty winds and muddy waters.

As it turned out, though, the weather made Bitter look beyond the grass beds he had worked during practice.

"I ran down the river the first day for a real good grass bed that I had," said Bitter, who won $25,000. "But it was real muddy, and I didn't catch a thing."

Bitter then back-tracked upriver to a few other places and found them muddy as well.

"In between that last spot and the next one I was going to go to," Bitter said, "there was this little hump that I had found here three years ago.

"I never had caught much off it, but I stopped there just to check it out -- and there was a mother lode there."

Bitter would not say exactly where he was fishing, but his description of it fits an area of Craney Island, which sits almost completely submerged off Hallowing Point in the Potomac.

"It is just a small area, probably 20 feet by 20 feet at the top of a hump," Bitter said. "Everything that I caught was right on the top of the hump, which had a deep, 10-foot horseshoe moat around it."

The first day, Bitter spent about 90 minutes on the hump and caught 16 pounds, 3 ounces. On the second day, another 90 minutes produced 19-1.

On Day 3, Bitter said he had to baby sit his spot so that other anglers wouldn't move in on it. In the process, he caught 20 pounds, one ounce.

"That got me ahead, so that today [Saturday] I could relax a bit," Bitter said. "I went back out there, and it was pretty dead. I caught three fish that weighed about 7 pounds."

So, with the wind down and the river easily traveled, Bitter went searching for heavier fish and picked up a three-pounder.

"But then I went back to the hump and caught another fish," Bitter said, "and culled the little one that I had."

Bitter said the real turning point in this tournament, however, was Thursday night when he switched the hooks on his crankbaits, replacing the standard treble hooks with a Pradco product called the Excalibur, a twisted treble hook that almost has to be unscrewed from a fish's mouth.

"Since I made that switch," said Bitter, who earlier in the week had lost several big fish, "I haven't lost a fish."

Earlier in the week, Bitter said the Potomac is as good as any area he has fished. "I love it here," Bitter said. "I have fished four tournaments here, and I think 10th or 12th is the worst I have finished. It has just got a great medium-size fish fishery, three, four and five pounders -- and they are all healthy fish."

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