Tropical Storm Allison, the first named storm of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season, promises to influence the site of the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic.
Much of Allison's floodwaters surged down Louisiana's rivers and bayous toward the Mississippi River delta near New Orleans, where the Classic is slated to take place Aug. 2-4.
"This huge rain that they've just gotten from Allison may change things," said 1999 B.A.S.S. Masters Classic champion Davy Hite. The Prosperity, S.C., angler rode out the recent tropical deluge while fishing in Southern Louisiana.
Hite, who won the Classic two years ago on the Mississippi River delta, believes the floodwaters may actually help the bass fishing. The former B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year indicated that ongoing drought and saltwater intrusion have hurt areas of vegetation since the Classic last visited the bayou country.
"It's been so, so dry down here," Hite said. "And I think that this 20 inches of rain that they've gotten so far inland should really help wash some of the salt out. That should help the fishing for the Classic.
"All of this rain from Allison, I think it's good for the whole system if you're a bass fisherman. But if you're a shrimper or a crabber, it's not good."
Allison may have been short in the wind department as she came ashore near Galveston, Texas, with 60 mph winds. But the storm did bring disastrous heavy rains to the region. After deluging portions of Texas and Louisiana with more than 20 inches of rain, the remnants of the storm finally departed early this week after causing at least 17 fatalities and leaving behind more than $1 billion dollars in damage.
Hite, who missed qualifying for this year's Classic, believes the high water could affect the six days of practice fishing that the 45 Classic qualifiers will get later this month. He believes changing water conditions and the ability to adjust to those conditions may play a big role in who wins this year's Classic.
"The water is very similar to what happened the year I won," Hite said. "The two days before practice started in 1999, it rained 10 to 12 inches. Of course, it's rained 24 inches in places with Allison. But 12 inches is a lot of water in 24 hours, too. That's why you have to find an area that you really have a lot of confidence in. Then you can come back in August and fine tune."