BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Brett Hite is considered a rookie on the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series tour. But the 35-year-old Phoenix, Ariz., resident ain't no rookie in anyone else's book.
He had won $158,080 in 68 B.A.S.S. events before his $100,000 victory in the Dick Cepek Tires Elite Series Tournament presented by Hardee's Sunday. But Hite's success of late has come on the FLW tour, where he's won four tournaments and $881,347 in the past eight years.
And no, he's not related to Bassmaster veteran Davy Hite of Ninety Six, South Carolina.
"It seems like at every tournament I get asked, 'How is your dad doing? How's he fishing," Hite said Sunday.
It's long been his dream to be a professional bass fisherman, and he's been fulfilling that dream for 14 years now.
Hite's recent success, as it was again this week, can be attributed to one lure: the ChatterBait. It's been exactly 10 years since the father-son team of Ronny and Ron Davis put their invention on the market. Hite remembers the first one he bought.
"I thought, 'What a piece of junk,'" he said.
But he remained at least somewhat open-minded about the lure's possibility, and that's been very, very good for him. Roughly half of his winnings, which have crossed the $1 million mark, have come on a ChatterBait. He used a Z-Man ChatterBait almost exclusively to win at Lake Seminole this week, just as he did earlier this year in winning $125,000 in an FLW event at Florida's Lake Okeechobee.
Hite's ChatterBait success began in 2008 in his second year on the FLW tour. He won on Florida's Lake Toho and followed that with another victory at the California Delta two weeks later.
Don't make the mistake of labeling him a one-lure wonder. But Hite has become the ChatterBait master.
"I'm successful with it because I throw it a lot," he said Sunday. "I throw it all year, but it's best in prespawn when you've got grass (in the lake).
"I think it attracts bigger fish than maybe any other bait."
Hite proved that Sunday when he landed a 7-13 that sealed the deal for him in a tournament he would win by 13 pounds. No, he didn't need that big one to win. But he had no way of knowing that when he caught it around noon on a day when thunderstorms caused the check-in time to be moved up to 1 p.m. instead of 4.
"That was definitely the highlight of the day," Hite said. "I didn't need that fish, but it was the dagger."
Hite's success at Lake Seminole can be attributed to something else besides mastery of a lure. Four-day tournaments are seldom won in a single area. Hite had 20 pounds in his livewells on Day 2 when he went looking for new areas to fish.
"I wouldn't have won, if I hadn't gone 'practicing' that day," Hite said.
That area, near the dam at Lake Seminole, bailed him out when he struggled most of Day 3 and put an early limit in his boat Sunday.
Rookies don't think like that. Maybe we should start calling Brett Hite the veteran-rookie of the Bassmaster Elite Series.