Hite finally reels in BASS Masters

Big lead grows in winning Classic by 10 pounds

August 01, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

As he entered the final round of fishing on the Louisiana Delta yesterday, Davey Hite knew he finally had a real chance to win the BASS Masters Classic -- and this time he didn't let the big one get away.

"This is a dream come true," Hite said last night after weighing his winning catch before 28,000 fans at the Superdome. "This really makes up for finishing second back in 1996.

"In that tournament, I thought I had it won and backed off my fish on the last day. I wasn't about to let that happen again. I fished hard until the end."

Hite, a former Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society Angler of the Year, had a lead of 5 pounds, 12 ounces entering the final round and excellent prospects of increasing his advantage.

"It feels great to be in this position," said Hite, chasing a Classic title for the fifth time. "I've got an area that I have been fishing that has a lot of big fish in it, and I haven't seen another boat anywhere near it. That's a real luxury in a tournament like this."

Yesterday, the 34-year-old pro angler from Prosperity, S.C., weighed in 19 pounds, 14 ounces for a three-day total of 55-10, nearly 10 pounds ahead of second-place Denny Brauer.

Hite won $100,000 and stands to earn $1 million or more from endorsements and personal appearances over the next year.

Brauer, the angler from Camdenton, Mo., who won the Classic last year, made a run at Hite yesterday, weighing in 17 pounds, 9 ounces to jump from sixth place to second.

But by Friday evening, most of the field knew Hite was going to be hard to beat.

"That lead is pretty insurmountable," said Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark. "I say that because it will take some big bass to catch up, and I've only seen two fish in the 4-pound range since I got here."

Shuffield finished fifth, nearly 15 pounds behind Hite.

Longtime touring pro Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., had a good haul on Friday and climbed from 16th place to fourth. But yesterday he fell short by more than 11 pounds and finished third.

Jack Wade, a 43-year-old striped bass guide from Knoxville, Tenn., weighed into his first Classic Thursday with a stringer of five bass for 16 pounds, 13 ounces and the early lead.

Wade said he was fishing weed beds in water as thin as 6 inches deep but with a good current.

"After I had my limit, I got out of that area and tried to fish smart and went out and practiced in other areas," said Wade. "I caught my biggest fish in a different area, so I'm pretty excited about my chances. I'm confident."

But Hite was waiting in the wings.

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