By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
The 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series season got off to a miserable start for Brett Hite, and the conclusion of the campaign wasn't any good, either. But he doesn't expect any of that bad mojo to transfer over to 2018.
He says left all that in the Nevada desert last October when he came within a half-pound of beating out fellow Phoenix, Ariz. resident Justin Patti for the WON Bass U.S. Open crown.
"I turned the momentum around at that tournament," he said. "Since then, I've been fishing good and catching big ones. Things have just been going well."
The fishing that he's been doing recently has been the non-competitive sort, but he feels that it'll bode well for him when the Elite season gets under way next week at Alabama's Lake Martin.
"I wanted to have my boat, my truck and my camper all ready by Christmas so I could just concentrate on fishing for the month of January. I've been at it 3 or 4 days a week, just fishing around home.
"We had quite a bit of rain last year and the fishing out west has been good, and I've been fishing good."
Didn't Feel Right
Hite had what was by far his worst Elite Series season last year since transferring over from the FLW Tour in 2014. He ended up 79th in the Angler of the Year race and had three finishes of 100th or lower, which was two more than he'd posted in the previous three seasons combined.
It started off with a 101st-place clunker at Lake Cherokee, but he overcame that with showings of 14th or better in each of the next three derbies to climb to 41st on the points list. He couldn't sustain the momentum, though, as he fared no better than 46th the rest of the way and was nowhere close to qualifying for the Angler of the Year Championship event when the regular season concluded.
"I didn't have everything all put together from the start last year and it all felt really rushed," he said. "I wasn't comfortable when I left home (for the opener at Cherokee) – I hadn't even had a chance to run my new boat yet.
"That's why I wanted things to be different this year. I wanted to be in that groove before I left."
Likes Martin's Layout
The Elite Series is making its first-ever stop at Lake Martin and it'll be Hite's initial visit as well. He and fellow Elite competitor Josh Bertrand pulled out of Phoenix early Thursday morning to begin the nearly 1,800-mile trip to Alexander City, Ala.
When he gets to the lake, he expects to like what he finds. As a lifelong Westerner, he has a great deal of experience on rocky, clear-water impoundments and his finesse game is top-notch.
"From what I've seen on the map and stuff, it's a clear, reservoir-style lake," he said. "Randall (Tharp) told me that it's a lot like Hartwell.
"It should set up good for me. It'll be an early pre-spawn/winter-pattern deal."
Because he's sitting out this year's Classic, he won't compete again until the circuit moves to the Sabine River in Texas in early April.
"I think the schedule's all right, but after this tournament we're missing the best months of fishing in the South. I've gotten to the point where I don't really say whether I like a schedule or don't like it because you have to like it.
"I have to keep a positive attitude and just go with it."
> Hite might make a pre-practice visit to the Sabine following the Martin tournament. "I usually don't worry about that if it's just a standard-size lake – I just get there and do my own deal. But that's such a big place and if you find an area you like in pre-fish, the fish will still be there when you get back. It's not like they migrate around in there."
> He likes the fact that the Louisiana portion of the river will be off-limits this time – on previous visits there was a great deal of confusion about which areas within that state were eligible to be fished. "Until they can come up with a map that definitively says yes you can fish here or no you cannot, it's not fair. Just limiting it to Texas is the right deal."