Tournament Lessons

Bass will "tell" you how they want your lures. But you've got to pay attention.

Davy Hite knows that as well as anyone. A subtle clue he recognized during the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta was instrumental in him winning the 1999 title.

Early during the first day of the competition, Hite came upon a large tree positioned in about 5 feet of water. He made two casts with a buzzbait and nothing happened. He made two more casts with a crankbait that bounced along the bottom, still nothing. But when he switched to a shallow running crankbait, he caught a 3-pounder.

"I found that interesting because everything I caught during the prepractice the month prior to the Classic came on baits fished on the bottom," Hite recalled. "That fish told me that they were close to the surface but weren't aggressive enough to hit a topwater."

He poked around the area, flipping the Gambler Bacon Rind soft plastic that had done well for him in practice. About 30 minutes after catching the 3-pounder on the crankbait, he caught another on the Bacon Rind.

"I noticed that the bait only fell about a foot when the line jumped, another indication that the fish were suspended around the cover," he explained. "That made two bites in an hour, and both came when the bait was off the bottom. I started pitching and swimming my baits around the cover and never let my bait hit bottom again. That was a key to me winning."

The lesson? Be aware of when your strikes occur. Many anglers fishing Texas rigged plastics are so enthralled with the bite that they fail to recognize where the bait was at the time. You may think the fish struck when the bait hit bottom, but that's not always the case.

"It may not be obvious all the time, but it can make a huge difference in how effective you fish a lure the rest of the day," added Hite. "Had I not picked up on that, I probably wouldn't have won.

Also By This Author