Davy Hite, the 1999 Bassmaster Classic Champion and two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, is trading in his fishing rod for a microphone. After 23 highly successful years as a pro angler, Hite is moving on from competing in the Bassmaster Elite Series to working as color commentator for “Bassmaster LIVE,” “The Bassmasters” television show on ESPN2, and all other B.A.S.S. programming.
Jerry McKinnis, one of the principal owners of B.A.S.S. and a pioneer in outdoor television programming, welcomed the Ninety Six, S.C., angler. as a full-time addition to the B.A.S.S. broadcast team.
“I’ve known for a long time that Davy would be a great on-air talent,” said McKinnis, who praised Hite’s work on the “First Look” segments of Bassmaster.com tournament coverage. “I realized very quickly how comfortable Davy was in doing this. He’s good at asking the right questions. But it’s not an interview with him, it’s more like a conversation, and that’s important.”
Over the past three years, Hite has worked increasingly with the “Bassmaster LIVE” hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona and Elite Series emcee Dave Mercer.
“I started doing that three years ago because I was wearing my sponsors' logos on my jersey and hat and that was guaranteed exposure for them,” he said. “On the final day of each Elite event and the Classic I would interview the top couple of anglers right when they came to the dock and it ran live on the Bassmaster website. There is a tremendous following on the website the final day, so it was a good opportunity for me to have guaranteed coverage at every event.”
That experience whetted his appetite for the behind-the-cameras work, although Hite did not expect it to happen quite this soon.
“I had been thinking for several years about how to transition out of this sport. I did not want to be 65-years-old, still be fishing and not be competitive,” said Hite who turned 51 this year. “I think I’m still competitive enough to win the first tournament on the Elite Series next year. But you never know if you’ll get a second chance to make a transition like this one, and stay involved in the sport you love.”
“This is a way for me to continue to have a positive impact and stay involved with the sport of bass fishing, which has meant everything to me.”
Growing up in Saluda, S.C., Hite spent every minute he could on Lake Murray and he competed in his first bass tournament when he was 12 years old.
“Now you see young kids fishing in tournametns and there are even high school teams and college teams, but back then you just did not see any 12-year-olds fishing tournaments,” he said. “Back then my dream was to become a professional bass fisherman and I was finally able to give it a shot when I was 27-years-old.”
In August 1993, Hite resigned his full-time job with the South Carolina National Guard and took a giant leap of faith to venture out on the professional tournament trail. It was a gamble that paid off big time.
In the 23 years since Hite has won every major title in professional tournament fishing: the 1999 Bassmaster Classic, B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year titles in 1997 and 2002, and he was the first winner of what is now the Forrest Wood Cup, the FLW Tour's championship. His B.A.S.S. career includes eight first-place finishes, 14 Bassmaster Classic appearances, and 45 Top 10 finishes.
He finished in the money 140 times in 254 total tournaments, winning more than $1,990,000 in Bassmaster events, and the purses he won in FLW and other tournament series pushes his total prize winnings to well over $2.2 million.
“The top single moment in all that time was when I raised the Bassmaster Classic Trophy over my head. The second was when I won my first Angler of the Year title,” Hite said. “I knew I had enough in my life well to win the title on the final day of the tournament, but I sat for 30 minutes just looking at the check-in boat, having dry heaves because I knew if I won AOY it would change my life and change my career.”
And it did. Now he is on to the next phase in his career.
Hite’s first appearance under the new arrangement will be at the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake, Tenn., Feb. 9-12, 2017, and he’ll be an integral part of the programming for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro in Houston March 24-26.
One of the most exciting things about his new role, Hite said, is that all his sponsors are staying with him. His current sponsors include: Phoenix Boats, Evinrude, Gopher Industrial, Costa, Bass Pro Shops, Humminbird, Rapala, Storm Lures, Minn Kota, Advance Land and Timber, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, VMC and Buckeye Lures.
Hite, who began writing his Lunker Lines column for South Carolina Sportsman when the magazine debuted in January 2006, will continue to produce the column for Carolina Sportsman.