Getting 'caught up' with media might have cost Hite 1996 Classic
Anglers on the water know a camera showing up on them is a positive sign, but Classic champ Davy Hite relates how too much can be taken from it – he might have lost a Classic because of it.
Hite said he went into Day 3 of the 1996 Classic on Lay Lake with a shot at winning. Standing in third place, he drew a TV camera then late in the day some more arrived. That’s when George Cochran flanked him.
“I had a camera in my boat, and there were only three or four cameras then,” Hite said. “I caught a limit early, like in the first 10 minutes. With about an hour of fishing left, two more camera boats showed up. Then other people in the media started showing up all around me.”
When that happens, anglers assume the best and see that their chances to win are good. The Bassmaster LIVE crew tries never to let any angler know exactly where they stand, which could potentially change their plan of attack, but most get a pretty good idea they must be in the hunt.
“Them coming to you in the morning when you catch a limit is one thing, but with an hour to go on the final day?” Hite said. “And they started asking me questions like, ‘What would winning a Bassmaster Classic mean to you and your family?’ They’re asking me this with an hour to go. And I got caught up in the moment.”
Meanwhile, a team of Bass Fishing Hall of Fame member Bob Cobb and cameraman Tim Miller had difficulties covering Cochran, who was back in a stump-filled shallow bay.
“Cochran would get up on plane, and I think close his eyes and run through there,” Cobb said. “I think he ended up plowing a ditch to get out of there.
“We did get to him with a camera. Tim Miller and I had to walk the bank and try to follow George. He caught some fish for us on camera. There were fire ants all over the place. We had to fend off a barking dog that charged us. We were obviously in his territory.
"That was the pitfalls of covering that tournament. We did get some fish catches, but we had to carry a 12-volt battery to record. Toting that thing was a chore in itself. I praise all those guys I worked with for the things they had to do” to get the shot.
With it ending pretty much as a two-man race, the rest of the media went to Hite, who sort of convinced himself he might have had the Classic won.