They were eight of the most precious hours of the year for pros competing in the 34th annual Bassmaster Classic, yet none of the casts made during Wednesday's practice round even counted.
Some anglers have won from the lead, while others have stormed back from behind to claim fishing's biggest prize.
"I have been totally shocked at the magnitude of what winning the Classic has meant." VanDam says. "Without a doubt, bass fishing is far more mainstream than ever before."
With air temperatures pushing the century mark each day and steamy water temperatures above 90 degrees, few bass experts believed the Classic's weight record would fall in the vast Louisiana Delta … except Hite, that is.
Thanks to torrential rains in Louisiana and Texas from Tropical Storm Allison, the 45 Classic contenders didn't find the cooperative fish they were looking for during their six days of prefishing.
Even as he recited his list of potential disasters, however, Jay Yelas never truly exhibited any doubts that he would catch enough fish on the morrow and claim his first BASS Masters Classic world championship.
It was a day of contrasts in Charlotte for 2004 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Wylie
Davy Hite won the 29th Classic with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 55 pounds, 10 ounces; 9-15 more than runner-up Denny Brauer. The Classic was held July 29-31, 1999, in Louisiana Delta, Louisiana.