WETUMPKA, Ala. — Davy Hite had the most frustrating day among the 12 Bassmaster Elite Series pros competing in the Ramada All-Star Semi-Final of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week, but he was hardly alone.
“I’m worried because I don’t know what to do (Sunday),” said Jeff Kriet, who is in 10th place after Day One on Lake Jordan with 6 pounds, 12 ounces. “I’ll have to really think about it. Maybe I’ll just go out and gamble.”
Almost as much as the $100,000 first-place prize in this event, missing the cut, when the field is dropped from 12 to eight, is a motivating factor here. No one wants to be eliminated Sunday before the venue moves to the Alabama River next week and the tournament changes to a one-on-one, match-play format.
After Saturday, there is a tie for eighth place between Skeet Reese and Mike Iaconelli, each with exactly 8 pounds. Kevin VanDam, who has won the two previous All-Star competitions, is one spot above the cutline with 9-7. Three others are below that eighth-place weight: Kriet with 6-12, Steve Kennedy with 6-3 and Hite with 1-1.
“I didn’t have a real good practice, but I had a better practice than I did on the first day of the tournament,” Hite said. “I left frustrated, but I haven’t run out of ideas.”
It was Kriet who seemed out of ideas Saturday afternoon after the weigh-in at the Wetumpka Civic Center.
“I had enough quality bites in practice to have caught quality sacks both days,” the Ardmore, Okla., angler said. “But I worked hard to catch what I did today.”
Reese was also feeling puzzled after being confident going into the day.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “I thought I was going to catch them a lot better than I did. I thought I would catch 10, 11, 12 pounds pretty easy. (Friday) I thought I’d found something. But they sucked the bottom out of the water I was fishing. It dropped about 10 inches.
“I didn’t really have a backup plan. I had to scramble to get what I had.”
Kennedy may have been the most frustrated because he had the fish on to have put together a decent day.
“You’ve got to catch your bites when you get them,” the Auburn, Ala., resident said. “If you go fishing for eight hours, you’re going to get bit. I had two big ones that I knew right where they were, and I got broke off twice.”
In order to get the weight he had, Kennedy had to use the hand-over-hand method to bring in a 3-plus-pounder that wrapped him up in the support poles of a boat dock.
“Obviously, I don’t know where to go (Sunday),” Kennedy said. “It is so hit-or-miss out there.”
Even VanDam and Iaconelli were frustrated by the lack of quality bites, though they both caught plenty of fish.
“These Coosa River (spotted bass) are some of the greatest fish in the world, but they are also some of the most frustrating,” VanDam said. “They are very moody, very fickle. The difference here is you’ve got to catch those 3- and 4-pounders.”
Maybe after a night to think it over, those anglers at the bottom of the standings will get the Coosa River spots figured out Sunday.
“I promise you I’ll do better (Sunday),” Hite said.
The problem for Hite and the others at the bottom of the leaderboard is that not only must they perform better Sunday, they’re now dependent on those above them doing worse.