Davy Hite wins Lake Dardanelle Elite 50
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — It's been more than three years since Davy Hite last tasted victory on the BASS Tour, but on Saturday at the Lake Dardanelle Bassmaster Elite 50, Hite's drought officially ended as he caught his fourth consecutive limit and accumulated a two-day total of 32 pounds, 12 ounces at the second Bassmaster Elite 50 event of the season. His two-day total bested 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ Michael Iaconelli by 6 pounds, 8 ounces.
"It's been a long time since I won," Hite said. "When I first became a professional angler in 1993, I was winning something every year. I really took my success for granted, but this slump will certainly humble me in the future."
It's been a week of grand achievements for Hite. On Wednesday, he turned 40 years old. Today, he joined the exclusive BASS millionaires club when his $100,000 payday pushed him past the seven-figure mark in career tournament earnings.
"This hasn't set in quite yet," Hite said. "To be mentioned along with guys like Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon and Denny Brauer is a great feeling. I also recommend winning $100,000 on your birthday. It just feels fantastic!"
Hite caught every one of his keeper fish during the week on either a 5/16-ounce green pumpkin jig or a Berkley green pumpkin finesse worm, but it was location that was the key to his big catches in the final two rounds.
"A lot of guys made the mistake of staying on the grass," Hite said. "I was keying on transition-type places where I felt the pre-spawn staging fish were holding. Every time I saw a bridge piling, I threw something at it."
The 1999 CITGO Bassmaster Classic Champion's ultra-successful week is even sweeter considering he will earn valuable Elite 50 points and inch closer to qualifying for the 2005 and 2006 Classics.
"To be able to finish in the Top 10 in Elite 50 points would mean so much to me, my family and my sponsors," Hite said. "Once you get on a roll, you hope it continues, but there are still two events left, and I have to concentrate on qualifying for the Classic."
The highlight of the tournament for the weigh-in audience was an impromptu dance show performed by Hite that was displayed on the big screen. He danced on his boat after catching his fifth and final keeper of the day. Perhaps he was mimicking runner-up Iaconelli, who's known for his celebratory break-dancing.
Rounding out the finalists are Aaron Martens (25-1), four-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn (21-7), 22-time Classic qualifier Gary Klein (20-12) and North Carolina's Dustin Wilks (15-12). Klein's 3-pound, 14-ounce largemouth was the Purolator Big Bass winner for the day and earned him an extra $1,000.
Each Elite 50 angler has a payday in the no-entry-fee event. The winner takes home a check for $100,000, and the last place finisher earns $5,000. The total payout for each of the four Elite 50 events is $400,000.
In the CastingKids competition, Brian Coleman, 10, won the 7-10 year old division with a score of 110 points. Cole Weese, 13, won the 11-14 year old division with a score of 130 points.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite 50 Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).
Local Sponsors include the Russellville Tourism & Visitors Center.