KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Brett Hite of Phoenix could have never made a single cast on day four of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho and still won it hands down. While the other nine competitors feverishly frothed the waters of Toho and Kissimmee with a variety of lures, Hite could have taken the day off, lain out by the pool, enjoyed the Florida sunshine and swung by the Silver Spurs Arena at about 4 p.m. to collect his $125,000 winner’s check without weighing a single bass.
That’s because after two days of fishing, the other nine pro competitors in the Lake Toho top 10 still could not match what Hite caught on day three of the event – 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Of course, Hite did go fishing on day four, and after he weighed in his unneeded limit of 13 pounds, 7 ounces, he claimed victory with a two-day total of 38 pounds, 9 ounces – a record FLW Tour winning margin of 20 pounds, 4 ounces.
“This is what I’ve been striving for my whole career – a big win like this,” Hite said. “To win one is just a dream come true. I’ve been a consistent performer, but this win is going to help elevate my career to the next level.”
But Hite’s record-setting performance almost never happened. A month ago he was at home in Arizona, sponsorless and with no plans of attending the Toho event, when he was offered a Coppertone deal, which put him on his way to Florida.
“I really have to thank FLW Outdoors and Coppertone, or I would have never been here,” he said. “Everything has just worked out great. I can’t think of a better way to get Coppertone excited about bass fishing than to have one of their guys win the first event they’ve been a part of. It’s just been a dream week.”
As for Hite’s fishing, he stayed in Lake Kissimmee all week fishing near Scrub Slough.
“It’s one of the few areas I found that had a good mix of vegetation – hyacinths, lily pads and hydrilla,” he explained. “I was keying on lanes through the vegetation, especially in the hydrilla.”
Hite spent the week throwing a 3/8-ounce Phenix Vibrator Jig, a ChatterBait-like lure featuring a black blade with a green-pumpkin skirt. He teamed the vibrating jig with two trailers: a 6-inch Yamamoto twin-tail trailer and a Yamamoto swimming Senko, both green-pumpkin.
“I was fishing that vibration jig in 2 to 4 feet of water just like a Rat-L-Trap,” he noted. “The key for me was bumping that grass with the bait. Whenever I’d bump something, I’d give it a twitch; I’d speed it up and stop it every once and while, just changing up my cadence.”
He fished the jig on 20-pound-test Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon on a Performance Tackle “B. Hite Special” heavy glass rod, which is 7 feet, 4 inches in length.
Hite did weigh in one 7-pound-class fish on day four, but said he missed two other giants.
“One I saw boil up on the bait and she pulled off, and the other I just couldn’t do anything with,” he added. “I had her hooked for a few seconds, and when she took off, my line started ripping though the pads, just mowing them down – that one pulled off, too.”
Needless to say, Hite didn’t need either one of the escapees for his win.
Carl Svebek of Siloam Springs, Ark., came to Lake Toho with one thing in mind: the “swacky rig.” The Castrol pro rode his Gambler Sweebo worm (June-bug), fished wacky style, for four days in the waters of Toho to finish second with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 5 ounces worth $50,000.
“For some reason I did not get near as many bites on it today as I had been earlier in the week,” Svebek said. “In fact, I had just five bites on it today.”
Svebek mainly focused on points, pockets and clumps of Kissimmee grass where he felt pre- and postspawn fish were roaming.
PTSI pro Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., finished third with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 13 ounces worth $40,000.
For most of the week, Shuffield concentrated on outside grass clumps in Lake Cypress with a 10-inch Berkley Powerworm and a 10-inch Gambler worm, both junebug-colored and both tied to 15-pound-test Trilene fluorocarbon.
When a little breeze kicked up today, he made an adjustment that helped him finish a limit.
“I went to a Mann’s Baby One Minus in a black-shad pattern,” Shuffield said. “When that breeze picked up, it ruffled the surface a little, and that One Minus produced two keepers that helped me.”
Morgan fished “trash” all week to make the top 10. That’s not to say his lures were trash, but his pattern was more of a run-and-gun, junk-fishing pattern. His main lures were a Zoom Trick worm, a Zoom Horny Toad and a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper swimbait. The Skinny Dipper produced two of his fish today. Morgan rigged it with a 1/8-ounce slip-sinker and an Owner 5/0 twist-lock hook.
BP pro Shinichi Fukae of Mineola, Texas, finished out his week with a fifth-place finish worth $20,000.
For most of the week Fukae used a “light” Carolina rig, made up of a 3/16-ounce weight and a Yamamoto prototype worm tied to Yozuri fluorocarbon.
“After I caught three fish today, I went looking for bedding fish,” Fukae said. “But I only found one fish on bed, and I could not catch it.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the FLW Tour event on Lake Toho:
6th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., two-day total of 15-2, $19,000
7th: Pat Fisher of Buckhead, Ga., two-day total of 14-1, $18,000
8th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., two-day total of 12-2, $17,000
9th: Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., two-day total of 7-12, $16,000
10th: Randy Hadden of Jacksonville, Fla., two-day total of 5-4, $15,000
Coming up next The second FLW Tour stop of 2008 will take place on Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama April 3-6.