A Pro's ApproachDavy Hite on Lake Murray

Carolina Clash follow-up: What happened with Hite?

South Carolina's Lake Murray, home to the sixth 2008 Elite Series event, covers more than 50,000 surface acres and offers 650 miles of shoreline at normal pool. But, that's normal pool. It's not at normal pool. Murray's waters are high and will stay that way through the Carolina Clash dates of May 15-18.

"The water's really up and way back into the bushes. But, that doesn't mean what you think. This is not the Lake Murray of 10 years ago. A lot of anglers and fans are going to be surprised," said Davy Hite, Elite Series pro and 1999 Bassmaster Classic Champion. "I live here and fish this lake regularly. It's very different now."

That difference is grass, or more accurately a lack of grass.

"They've sprayed chemicals and released grass carp here. The heavy grass is gone. It's made a big difference in the fishery. Years ago when the grass was everywhere the bass mostly lived shallow and ambushed their prey in clear water. That's no longer true.

"Years ago this tournament would have almost certainly been won at the lower end. That's not necessarily going to be true this year. That's because even without grass the water doesn't muddy-up the way you might think. It's fairly clear and darn near perfect for bass fishing everywhere in the lake.

"This is a tremendous fishery. This tournament can be won anywhere on the lake. The upper end, middle and lower end all hold winning weights if anglers can figure out how to catch them."

Hite believes that's especially true this year. He says there's been an absence of the heavy, hard spring rains that normally pound the area. That makes good water even better.

"There's about 8-10 feet of clarity in the lower end of the lake and about 3-4 feet in the upper end. That's about as good as it gets for South Carolina bass fishing."

But, when it comes to catching his hometown bass Hite refuses to divulge details other than to say most of the bass are in the postspawn stage.

"I know that sounds vague and almost meaningless but high, clear water is an unusual situation here. There are vast areas of flooded, shallow shoreline brush, deep drops, cuts and channel swings and many points that run from shallow to deep. The bass are scattered. That adds up to opportunities for nearly anyone in the 108 angler field.

"I'll spend a lot of my time fishing with a Buckeye Lures Mop Jig, but it won't be the only lure I throw. But a lot of the other guys will catch them on topwater baits — they should be hot this week — and crankbaits, soft plastics and jigs will claim their fair share, too.

"I'm sorry about not releasing more details than that but I just can't do it until after the tournament's over," he said, trying to explain his secrecy. (Statements like that usually mean one of two things. Either he's catching the daylights out of them or he can't find one anywhere, and he's hoping for the best come tournament time.)

Hite loses his secrecy, however, when it comes to predicting weights for the tournament. And, surprisingly they're lower than many other experts. He believes the first cut weight on Friday evening will be 27-28 pounds and, that it'll take 47 pounds to launch on Sunday morning. His winning weight prediction is 70-75 pounds.

He also theorizes "several" 6-7 pound bass will be caught over the course of the four day event with a "good possibility" that an 8 pounder will be brought to the scales. "The big ones aren't going to be as big as some guys think."

Hite suggests fans watch Kevin VanDam, Terry Scroggins, Casey Ashley, Marty Robinson and Jason Williamson during the tournament.

"VanDam is obvious. He's the best bass angler alive and is always a threat," Hite said, almost matter-of-fact. "And, Scroggins, Ashley, Robinson and Williamson are all experienced with this type of water and are very talented. Any one of them could jump up and win this thing."

Weather is not expected to be a factor this week. The current forecast is for stable temperatures with rain and isolated storms on Thursday and Friday. Once they blow through, the weather on Saturday and Sunday should be darn near perfect — temperatures in the low 80s and sunshine with scattered clouds.

Carolina Clash follow-up: What happened with Hite?