Hite Looking For “right Group Of Fish” In Elite Series On Lake Dardanelle

It’s late March, the water temperature has warmed up to the high 50s-low 60s, and the bass in Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle have moved up to spawn, so you’d expect the fishing to be easy for the Bassmaster Elite Series Diamond Drive tournament starting Thursday.

But, you’d be wrong.

“I’ve talked to a lot of the other pros and most are kind of saying the same thing,” said 1999 Bassmaster Classic Champion Davy Hite of Ninety Six, S.C. “The fishing is a lot tougher than I thought it would be.”

Normally when bass move up to spawn they come ready to eat and ready to fight anything that disturbs their spawning area, but for some reason the Dardanelle bass have not responded like normal fish this year.

Elite Series pro Clark Reehm, who lives just a few minutes from the boat ramp on Lake Dardanelle, said local tournament anglers are not even catching a lot of smaller fish for some reason.  He added that the pros who have been to Dardanelle in the past might rely on 40 to 50 fish caught a day, but the bounty won’t be that plentiful in the Diamond Drive.

“Granted this is the Elites, but if the fish aren’t there, they aren’t there. Even the short fish – usually you catch 20-50 short fish, and it doesn’t seem like people are catching even that many.”

While Hite said he has been catching a good many fish in practice this week, most of them are small bass.

“This is a good lake and I’ve had some success here in the past,” said Hite, who won the Arkansas CITGO Bassmaster Elite 50 Pro tournament on Dardanelle in 2005 with a whopping total of 58 pounds, 9 ounces.

“I found those fish during the tournament,” he said, adding hopefully, “so, maybe tomorrow.”

Hite’s game plan in the tournament is to just go fishing.

“I think the better fish are up shallow where I’ve been catching a lot of smaller fish. I’m going to change baits and see if they like something different from what I’ve been throwing,” he said.

He’d love to repeat that success and get back into the Angler of the Year race, a title he’s won twice in his career.

“We’ve only had one tournament and I did not have the kind of tournament that I wanted in that first event,” said Hite, who finished 81st two weeks ago on Lake Amistad on the Texas-Mexico Border. “But, hopefully I can do better here. This is more my type of shallow water fishing and a lot of those fish last week were caught out extremely deep.”

Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C., won the Lake Amistad Elite tournament and is leading the Bassmaster AOY Points race going into the second tournament of the year. Williamson bagged more than 68 pounds of bass the last two days of the tournament to surge into first place for the title with a four-day total of 96 pounds, 6 ounces.

“A South Carolina boy won it, but he was doing something totally different than what he is used to fishing and what I am used to fishing, but he found the right group of fish and that is what it is all about,” Hite said.

Now, he’s hoping to find that “right group of fish” this week on Lake Dardanelle like he did four years ago and repeat that 2005 Arkansas win.

Diamond Drive

Bassmaster Elite Series

Lake Dardanelle

Russellville, AR

Mar. 26-29, 2009