Brett Hits Wins BASS Lake Seminole

Brett Hite's Winning Pattern, Baits & Gear

Brett Hite proved at Lake Seminole that high-level competitive bass fishing doesn't have to be an extremely complicated endeavor. Just find the right fish-holding locations, use the correct bait and presentation and stuff your livewell with an average of nearly 25 pounds a day. Those two critical pieces of the puzzle are, of course, often very difficult to interlock. Hite's results so far this year, however, make it appear as if he's found a magic key that reveals the answer to every mystery on each fishery he visits. His victory in the Bassmaster Elite Series season-opener gave him a win on each major circuit (plus a 6th-place showing at the Lake Hartwell FLW Tour) just a little more than a month into the campaign. He sits atop both Angler of the Year (AOY) races and has pocketed a hefty $243,500. At Seminole, he threw one bait in a single depth range over one type of cover and dominated the 108-angler field. His 97-10 total for 4 days was 13 pounds more than runner-up Todd Faircloth brought to the scale. Following are some of the details of his latest triumph. Hite was a late arrival to Seminole after advancing to the final day at Hartwell. He got on the water at about 10 o'clock on the first of the 3 official practice days and was determined to seek out pre-spawn fish. He's not a big proponent of sight-fishing under any circumstances, and several factors (most notably the wind and primarily dark skies in the forecast for the event) had him convinced that wouldn't be the main route to contention in this event. He ran around to various locales for 2 days throwing a ChatterBait, but met with very little success. For 2 days I did not catch them," he said. "The first day I got one bite and the second day I caught one 5-pounder in the morning and one in the evening. Then finally at about 9:00 on Wednesday I found a couple stretches that had some good ones, and I started running that. "Sometimes when you get on something the first day of practice, it kind of goes away by the time the tournament starts. This was still fresh and it was a pattern I could run. I knew the right fish for this tournament were pre-spawn, and I just stuck with it and finally dialed it in." All of the fish he caught at Seminole - in practice and during the tournament - were enticed by a ChatterBait. That bladed jig had played a major role in his victory at Okeechobee as well.

Competition:

Places where Hite could run his ChatterBait pattern were fairly easy to locate on his Humminbird Lakemaster map. He'd drive down main-lake banks looking for places where the depth dropped off abruptly from about 2 to 6 feet or so. "After I had a pretty good stringer at 2 o'clock on the first (competition) day, that's what I did for the rest of the day," he said. "I looked for places where I could be a cast away from the bank and be in 6 feet of water. Right on that break is where the grass was, and that's where the fish were, too." He had about a half-dozen stretches of bank with the right characteristics. One was about half a mile long, a couple others were approximately a quarter-mile and one particularly good one only ran for about 300 yards. "I'd keep moving unless I got a couple of bites in a specific place. Then I'd put the (Minn Kota) Talons down and make more casts." He was in 4th place after the opening round as many anglers boosted their sacks with large bed-fish. He came in 4 pounds lighter the following day, but moved to the top of the standings as weights throughout the field fell off considerably. He took complete command of the event on day 3 despite catching nothing of consequence until 90 minutes before check-in. His four late-day bruisers allowed him to way his biggest sack of the derby and put everybody else at least 9 3/4 pounds in arrears. Massive leads have been frittered away on the final day of top-level tournaments on numerous occasions, but the remainder of the Top-12 field had little hope at Seminole heading into day 4. Sunday would be nasty - wind-swept and dark with heavy rain on the way - and those conditions would be ideal for Hite's reaction-bait bite. Indeed, they were. It was determined before the field launched that the day would be shortened to 5 1/2 hours due to the onrushing storm. That proved to be plenty of time for Hite to sack another 26 pounds. Knowing that the intensity of the wind would increase almost by the minute, he fish his most exposed area first and caught a solid limit. He transformed the sack into another spectacular one with 6- and 8-pound kickers at subsequent stops.

Winning Gear:

ChatterBait gear: 7'3" medium-heavy EverGreen Heracles Leopard glass/graphite composite casting rod, Shimano Chronarch Ci4+ casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Elite (black/blue or green-pumpkin), 4 1/2" Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Swimming Senko trailer (green-pumpkin or black blue).

Main factor: "I think the main thing was fish management, obviously. When I found that pattern at 9 o'clock on Wednesday, that gave me a little more than half a day to run and find more of that type of water, and I was able to go pre-fishing again by 2 o'clock on day 1. That was the day I found the spot where I caught the giant stringer (on day 3) and the spot where I caught them (on the morning of day 4)."

Performance edge: "The reliability of my Evinrude E-Tec motor for getting me there and back, and also my Humminbird 360. For anybody who fishes grass, it's revolutionary to be able to see in front of you what's going on with the grass before you get there - whether it's coming out of a point or if there's a clump that's isolated to the left or right or if there's a big hole in it. It paints that picture absolutely perfectly and that's a big advantage.

Lake Seminole Winning Pattern Bassfan 3/18/14 (John Johnson)

Todd Faircloth's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Faircloth, a four-time Elite Series winner who can be counted on to log several single-digit finishes each year, got the first one out of 2014 the way early with his runner-up placement. He didn't sight-fish much except on his lackluster day 2, but he believes most of the fish he caught from expansive grass flats and sloughs were bedding. "In places like that, the majority of the fish are usually in real small areas," he said. "You can miss it real easy." He employed a finesse worm on day 1 to score around deeper lily pads. That didn't work on day 2 and he had to resort to catching smaller males from the spawning grounds. He locked into the bladed-jig action in the grass on day 3 and sacked more than 51 pounds over the final 2 days. "I was fishing around the mouth of Spring Creek," he said. "The fish were in the 3- to 6-foot (depth) range. The main bank might've been a half-mile away, but there were some islands around there that were closer."

Bladed-jig gear: 7'2" medium-heavy CastAway Todd Faircloth Signature Series Triple Threat rod, Shimano Chronarch Ci4+ casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 20-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce Strike King Pure Poison bladed jig, unnamed swimbait trailer (green-pumpkin).

Worm gear: 7' medium-heavy CastAway rod, same reel (7:1 ratio), 30-pound Sunline SX1 braided line, 3/16-ounce Strike King tungsten weight, unnamed 3/0 offset-shank hook, Strike King Finesse Worm (blue fleck).

Flipping gear: 7'6" heavy-action CastAway flipping stick, same reel as worm, 50-pound Sunline SX1 braid, 1 1/4-ounce Strike King tungsten weight, unnamed 5/0 hook, Strike King Rodent (black/blue).

Main factor: "I made some key adjustments and caught them different ways each day. The main deal for me was switching gears that third day and dialing it in with the Pure Poison."

Performance edge: "The Pure Poison was definitely key on the last 2 days - it was definitely what they wanted and those fish were taking it way down their throat. I'd also have to say my Skeeter/Yamaha for getting me there and back on time, every time."

Lake Seminole 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 3/19/14 (John Johnson)

Mark Davis' Pattern, Baits & Gear

Davis, a three-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, concluded 2013 with a runner-up showing and started the new campaign just one slot lower. They're his best finishes in 6-plus years on the Elite Series. Like Faircloth, he fished differently each day. Unlike the guy who ended up right in front of him, he never had any extremely light days, nor any truly massive sacks. "I didn't figure out a whole lot in practice," he said. "I did find the sight-fish (he caught on day 1) and there were some good-looking banks in that area, so I just went over there and slowed down and had confidence in what I was doing. "I tried to fish the conditions, but stay with the same water."

Cranking gear: 7' medium-action Team Lew's HM85 Million composite cranking rod, Lew's BB1 Pro casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line, Strike King KVD 1.5 (green crawfish or sexy chartreuse).

Flipping gear: 7'10" Team Lew's HM85 Million flipping stick, same reel, 50-pound Seaguar SmackDown braided line, 1-ounce Strike King tungsten weight, 5/0 Mustad flipping hook, 4" Strike King rodent (black/blue).

Sight-fishing gear: 7' heavy-action Team Lew's HM85 Million rod, same reel as crankbait, 20-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon, 5/0 Mustad Hook, Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Bug (blue craw).

Main factor: "Picking out two or three key areas and staying with them instead of running all over the lake."

Performance edge: "That Lew's cranking rod really did a good job for me. I caught the bulk of my fish that way."

Lake Seminole 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 3/19/14 (John Johnson)

Takahiro Omori's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Takahiro Omori was pleased with his second 4th-place showing in as many regular-season events, but also disappointed because several fish that would've helped him came unbuttoned. Included were three that topped the 6-pound mark. He stayed on the main lake and fished grass, cattails, stumps and lily pads in less than 5 feet or water. "I had a lot of places to fish," he said. "I'd cover a lot of water going down the bank in a big area. I'd just put the trolling motor down and keep going. "This time of year, this lake fishes a lot like Fork, Rayburn and Toledo Bend, and I'm very familiar with that kind of fishing. I'm very confident with a place that has a lot of grass and a lot of big bass in it. I like that kind of fishing." He sight-fished two of the specimens he took to the scale. The other 18 were all fooled by a ChatterBait.

ChatterBait gear 7' medium-heavy Daiwa Steez rod, Daiwa Tatula casting reel (8.1:1 ratio), 20-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon line, 3/8-ounce Z-Man Original ChatterBait (black/blue or brown), Zoom Speed Craw trailer (black/blue).

Sight-fishing gear: 7'3" medium-heavy Daiwa Black Label rod, Daiwa Zillion casting reel (7.1:1 ratio), 14-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon, 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Lock hook, 5" Yamamoto Senko (black).

Main factor: "Even though I lost some big ones, I stayed positive and kept going forward."

Performance edge: "My Power-Poles. The wind was blowing so hard on the first day of the tournament, and then (on day 3) I was sight-fishing, and (day 4) was another windy day. The Power-Poles were very important."

Lake Seminole 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 3/19/14 (John Johnson)

Kevin Short's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Kevin Short popped a bulging sack on the first day, then never came close to duplicating it the rest of the way. His other three efforts were steady, however, and he drove away with his best placement in 4 years. He did the majority of his damage with an old-school Norman Big N that he painted himself to panfish. "I painted up a bunch the first year we went to Oneida because I'd heard or read that those fish ate a lot of perch," he said. "It turned out to be a good bluegill pattern as well. I've caught a lot of fish around home on it and I used it at Amistad one time to catch a 33-pound bag. "They're not real popular anymore and probably haven't been since the late 1970s, but there's a time and a place for them. When they work, it's magic." He focused on hydrilla at depths of 3 to 7 feet and rarely got more than half a dozen bites a day. He picked up a few fish here and there on a bladed jig and a couple more on a swimjig. "On the first morning those fish were on the top or the outside edge of that grass. When the water warmed up, they moved to the edge and scattered on me. If they'd stayed on the outside edge instead of burying up, it would've been a totally different story. I'm just praying that we come back here about 2 weeks earlier on the calendar, because I'll crush them."

Cranking gear: 7' medium-heavy Team Lew's HM85 Million composite cranking rod, Lew's BB1 Pro casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 20-pound Vicious braided line, Norman Big N (perch).

Bladed jig gear: 7'4" medium-heavy Team Lew's HM85 Million rod, same reel, 50-pound Vicious braid, 1/2-ounce Strike King Pure Poison (bluegill), Zoom Super Swimming Fluke trailer (bluegill).

Swimjig gear: Same rod, reel and line as bladed jig, 1/2-ounce Jewel Swim-It (black/blue), Zoom Swimming Super Fluke trailer (black saphire).

Main factor: "I got on the crankbait bite in practice and I didn't do a lot of riding around or anything. I put the boat in the water and went fishing."

Performance edge: "I really felt like the Vicious Vision glasses made a difference. I wasn't sight-fishing, but even though the water was a little off-color, I could see the grass and visually line up the right cast on some of those edges."

Lake Seminole 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 3/19/14 (John Johnson)