Ironically, Hite finished 71st in the tournament and wound up 37th in the BASS Angler of the Year standings, apparently the first angler out of the top 36 who receive automatic berths to the Classic.
"It was downright eerie that she figured it that close," said Hite, who lives in Ninety Six.
Throughout Hite's career, Natalie, who has kept the financial books for her family's business for years, has been able to tell him exactly where he stood at any point in the season and what he needed to do to make the next Classic.
Even though he was 37th, Hite wasn't worried. He knew he was going to qualify because Alton Jones, who finished fifth in the standings, already had a free pass to the Classic as the defending champion - he won last February on Lake Hartwell.
"Actually, I won't be the last one in. There will be several more Elite anglers who will qualify," Hite said. "There are one, two or three who will qualify in the Bassmaster Opens who are already qualified in the Elite Series, and there are a couple more Open tournaments to go, so that will open up several more slots if they qualify there."
After the way the 2008 season started, Hite said he was just glad he made it in.
"I had the worst start I've ever had, and to recover from that and make the Classic, I'm tickled whether I made it in 10th place or 37th," he said. "In fact, I've learned after a few Angler of the Year titles that when you blast off in the Classic, everybody starts at zero. It doesn't matter if you are Angler of the Year or the last one in."
In his first two tournaments in Florida in March, Hite finished 92nd and 108th. In April, he began to climb the standings after two Texas tournaments, finishing 17th at Falcon Lake and 51st at Lake Amistad.
May was his best month. He finished second at Clarks Hill, site of his last win in 2006, and came to Lake Murray, his home lake, and posted a fourth-place finish.
His hopes took a hit in early June, finishing 66th at Wheeler Lake in Alabama and 81st at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky, but they soared again with a 16th-place finish on Tennessee's Old Hickory Lake in late June.
Just before leaving for the final two tournaments of the year in New York, Hite's mother passed away, but even with a heavy heart, he managed to finish 33rd on Lake Erie and the Niagara River tributaries at the end of July, bringing him to spot where Natalie could predict that he needed to finish 70th place on Oneida Lake.
Casey Ashley of Donalds, one of three S.C. anglers on the bubble before the final tournament, assured himself of a second-straight trip to the Classic with a seventh-place finish on Oneida that locked him into 29th spot in the final AOY ranking.
The other two "bubble" anglers were not as fortunate. Jason Quinn of York, who was 38th entering the final tournament, finished 87th and dropped to 52nd in the AOY standings. Jason Williamson of Aiken, ranked 39th before the tournament, finished 68th and dropped to 46th in the AOY race.
Wade Grooms of Bonneau, who had pushed Florida's Bobby Lane all year in the Rookie of the Year race, finished 81st in the tournament and second in the ROY standings.
Ironically, Ray Sedgwick of Cross, who finished 51st in the AOY standings, tied for the second largest bass of the Oneida Lake tournament at five pounds and won $500. Britt Myers of Lake Wylie, who finished 61st in the AOY race, had the first-day big bass at Oneida Lake at 4 pounds, 14 ounces, and won $1,000.
On the co-angler side, Marcos Malucelli of Fort Mill finished second at Lake Erie with nine bass that weighed 35 pounds, 5 ounces, and won $10,000. Malucelli finished 13th on Oneida Lake with nine bass that weighed 20 pounds, 10 ounces, and won an additional $750.
Co-angler Dane Odom of Irmo finished 14th at Lake Erie with nine fish that weighed 30 pounds, 14 ounces, and won $750.
There are no BASS Elite tournaments on South Carolina lakes in 2009, but the series returns to Clarks Hill (Thurmond) in 2010, and that has to have both Hite and Ashley waiting eagerly. Hite basically owns the lake, with first- and second-place finishes in the last two tournaments, and Ashley finished fifth there in May.
Tracy's Camp strikes it rich at tournament
Steve Jeffords and Scott Peavey caught five bass that weighed 16.04 pounds on Aug. 23 to take first place and $2,000 in the Tracy's Camp Benefit Tournament out of Clearwater Cove on Lake Wateree, but the big winner was the Christian outdoors camp for boys and girls which received $8,000.
Jeffords, of Sumter, and Peavey, of Ridgeway, also won the big-fish prize of $250 for a 5-pound, 6-ounce largemouth.
Brad Keels and Stephen Lynch of Darlington, had 13.06 pounds for second place and $650. Dearal Rodgers of Camden and Trent McLaughlin of Cassatt finished third and won $400 with five bass that weighed 11.05 pounds.
Tracy's Camp is a non-profit Christian outdoor-camp ministry. It is named in memory of Tracy Pack, one of four brothers whose grandfather, Joseph Britton Pack Sr., built Pack's Landing Store on Lake Marion in 1945. Tracy Pack was killed in a murder-robbery in 1999.
The landing, a Santee Cooper landmark, is now run by the surviving brothers: Jody, Stevie and Andy Pack, all of whom volunteer at Tracy's Camp during the summer. Besides Christian worship, the camp provides adventures in the outdoors to the teens, including sporting clays, archery, fishing trips, hunting (deer, dove, duck, and coon), canoeing and camping on rivers and lakes.
Ayers, Bowman win NBC Upstate title
Bobby Ayers and Ryan Bowman of Seneca, clinched the title of South Carolina Upstate divisional champions with a second-place finish in the last National Bass Circuit tournament of the summer July 27 on Lake Keowee. The team won a free entry in the 2009 Upstate NBC series, valued at $1,260.
Brian Bowers of West Union and Kenny Hollingsworth of Hendersonville, N.C., finished first in the July tournament and second in the points standings. They will join Ayers and Bowman in leading the South Carolina Upstate contingent into the NBC Championship on North Carolina's Kerr Reservoir on Nov. 7-9.
The purse for the championship will be more than $120,000 in cash and prizes. First place is valued at more than $86,000 and will include a Skeeter ZX bass boat with a Yamaha 200 horsepower outboard, plus two custom rods from Skeet's Custom rods.
"By the end of the 2008 season, we will have paid out more than a half-million dollars in cash and prizes," said Scott Turner, NBC president. "That is with less than a 40-boat average in the tournaments. Anglers don't realize what we are capable of paying back with a little better turnout."
Winners in the July 27 NBC Tournament on Lake Keowee included:
1. Bowers-Hollingsworth, 5 bass, 13.13 pounds, including big fish at 5.95 pounds; 2. Ayers-Bowman, 5, 13.10, including second big fish at 4.38 pounds; 3. Randy Childers of Anderson and Eric Griggs of Shelby, N.C., 5, 12.30; 4. Tommy Guthke of Hendersonville and Jason Woodring of Flat Rock, N.C., five fish, 11.08 pounds; and 5. Cole and Zak Hyder of Landrum, 5, 10.77 pounds.
Danque is SCA champ
Marc Danque of Chapin missed winning the Southern Crappie Association points championship by just one point in 2007, but he took care of business in 2008, coming away with the title.
Fishing by himself against other 2-man teams, Danque said his success was due primarily to fishing consistently.
"I won the Clarks Hill tournament and then hung around in the top 10 pretty much the whole year," he said.
Danque said that he and a number of South Carolina anglers will compete in the Bass Pro Shops Crappie-Masters National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida in October.
No stranger to winning crappie titles, Danque and Ed Duke of Concord, N.C., teamed to win the SCA points title in 2004.
The top five teams in the points standings included: 2. Will Hinson of Cassatt and Tommy Slice of Lexington; 3. Joe Cantey and Milton Dowey of Lugoff; 4. Nick Babin of Gilbert and Mike Berry of Batesburg-Leesville; and 5. Ed and Trudy Duke of Concord, N.C.
After the 2008 SCA Classic on Lake Wateree in September, the SCA opens the 2008-09 season Oct. 4 on Stumpy Pond/Fishing Creek. The schedule includes: Nov. 1 on Jordan Lake (N.C.), Dec. 6 on Lake Wateree, Jan. 10 on High Rock Lake (N.C.) Feb. 9 on Clarks Hill/Thurmond, and Feb. 28 on Lakes Badin and Tillery (N.C.).
The 2009 SCA Classic will be held March 27-28 on Lake Wylie.
Strike Zone takes Hydro Glow tourney
Team Strike Zone weighed in four striped bass at 24.65 pounds on July 18-19 to win the Midlands Striper Club/Hydro Glow DNR Benefit Open Night Tournament on Lake Murray.
Winning team members included Bruce Fowler of Fountain Inn, Robert Griswald of Piedmont and David Thrasher of Pelzer.
Team Triple Action - Horace Jackson, Scott Martin and Mark Morris, all of Orangeburg - finished second with four stripers that weighed 23.65 pounds. Troy Blackwell and Trey Miller of Chapin were third with two stripers that weighed 21.50 pounds.
Team MinnKota - Chris Clamp from Greenville and Randy Brown of Anderson - had the big fish, a 9.90-pound striper.
The annual night tournament is jointly sponsored by Midlands Striper Club, Hydro Glow Fish Lights of Dawsonville Ga., and South Lake Marine of Lexington. Proceeds help fund the S. C. Department of Natural Resources' striped bass fisheries program. Since 2001, MSC has donated more than $28,000 to SCDNR, funding equipment and research, including $10,500 in 2006-2007.
Troy Blackwell and Trey Miller of Chapin won the MSC portion of the event with 21.50 pounds and also weighed the largest striper of the tournament at 16.85 pounds.
Warren Turner, Ryan Wright and Contessa Wright, all from Greer, took second place with 18.55 pounds. James Lindler and Brad Pittman of West Columbia and Don Jackson of Leesville, finished third with 17.60 pounds.
The Small Creel award went to Dean Preston and David Sellers of Gilbert, with a 3½-pound striper
Team Catchall took the MSC August Team night tournament Aug. 15-16 out of Jakes Landing on Lake Murray with four stripers that weighed 23.9 pounds. The team, made up of Lee Thomas, Craig Frady and Adam Ledford, all of Leesville, and Michael Spires of Chapin, also had the big fish, which weighed 9.11 pounds.
Rick Kellemeyer, Bill King, Jim King, and Frank Kelly, all of Chapin, weighed four stripers at 18.10 pounds for second place. Dickey Maroney and Beverly Baker, both of Leesville, were third with four stripers that weighed 15.5 pounds.
Jerry Broughton of Rock Hill, Matt Southard of York and Kevin Rife of Sharon, had the Smallest Creel with a striper that weighed 2.14 pounds.
Southern Anglers Challenge
S.C. Carolina tournaments
The Southern Anglers Challenge, which holds weekend bass tournaments in several Southeastern states, has announced tentative 2008-09 schedules for five South Carolina divisions.Entry fees are $100, with an additional $10 championship fee and $10 optional big bass pot. The annual membership fee is $30 per fisherman.
SAC will hold its 2008 championship Nov. 7-8 on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, with a $19,000 purse.
For details, call Bill Harvey, 706-294-4732 or check out the website: www.southenanglerschallenge.com.
South Carolina division schedules and contacts include:
Lake Keowee Division: Nov. 1, Lake Keowee; Dec. 13, Lake Hartwell; Jan. 3, Lake Keowee; Feb. 21, Lake Hartwell; March 28, Lake Keowee; April 11, Lake Hartwell; May 2, Lake Keowee. Tournaments on Lake Keowee will run out of Gap Hill Landing; tournaments on Lake Hartwell will run out of Broyles Landing. Call Travis DeHart, 864-303-9326, or email email@example.com.
Lake Murray Division: Nov. 22, Dec. 13, Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 14, April 25, May 16, all out of Siesta Cove. Call George Raborn, 803-221-5049, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Savannah River Division: Nov. 22 and Dec. 20, Millstone Landing; Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and March 21, Stokes Bluff Landing; April 18 and May 16, Burton's Ferry Landing. Call Barry Durden, 912-863-7361, or email email@example.com
Clarks Hill Division: Nov. 15, Dec. 13, Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 21, April 11, May 2, June 20 (makeup date, if needed), all out of Wildwood Park. Call Craig Johnson, 706-564-9564, or email email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Wylie Division: Nov. 22, Dec. 13, Jan. 10, March 21, April 18, May 9, June 6, all out of Buster Boyd Ramp. Call Jeremy Cabe, 803-322-1794, or email: email@example.comJamey Patrick Tournament
The 11th annual Jamey Patrick Bass Tournament will be held Oct. 25 out of Billy Dreher Island State Park on Lake Murray to help fund an endowment for the men's basketball program at Newberry College.
"Jamey was my best friend. He died when he was 32 years old from a rare virus that affected his heart," said tournament organizer Scott Gardner.
Gardner and Patrick played basketball at Newberry, and Patrick served as an assistant coach to Gardner, who is the athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Newberry Academy.
The entry fee, which includes entry in the Big Bass competition, is $100 per team or $60 for a single angler, with an additional $20 if paid at the ramp. Entries are due Oct. 20. For details, call Gardner at 803-276-2303.S.C. Crappie Association
The South Carolina Crappie Association kicks off the 2008-09 season Oct. 25 on Lake Murray, with tournaments scheduled Nov. 8 on Lake Greenwood, Nov. 22 at Fishing Creek/Stumpy Pond, Dec. 13 on Lake Wateree, Jan. 31 on Lake Greenwood, Feb. 21 on Lake Murray, March 7 at Santee Cooper, and March 21, the annual Classic at Clarks Hill/Thurmond.
Only SCCA members can fish the tournaments, but anyone can join. Dues are $36, and entry fees normally are $70, plus $10 for the big fish pot.
For information, contact Ray Koon at 803-309-2687 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crappie USA South Region
Crappie USA has one tournament scheduled in South Carolina in 2009, a South Region Super Event on Clarks Hill for March 25. For information contact Darrell Van Vactor at 270-395-4204 or email email@example.com.CS Motorsports Fall Classic
CS Motorsports in Gastonia, N.C., will run a bass tournament on Lake Wylie on Oct. 25.Formerly the "Handy Pantry" tournament, it will have a $70 entry fee and $10 big-fish pot. Payback is $4,000 for first place, plus a $2,000 bonus from CS Motorsports.
For information, contact Jason Holland at 704-853-1990 or email: Jason@csmotorsportsnc.com
Tournament directors: Send your schedules in the format shown and your tournament results as soon as possible after your tournaments. Be sure to include names, hometowns, number of fish caught, total weight, prize money and big fish information. Email to Pat Robertson: firstname.lastname@example.org.