<
>

Davy Hite, storyteller

12/29/2006

*Editor's note: This is the third in a series of columns by Jerry McKinnis on five of the Bassmaster Classic competitors

You know how much I love to fish for smallmouth bass. You also know how my socks go up and down when I can do it up in the boundary waters in Northern Minnesota. But get this: I went up there with Davy Hite, and the canoe adventure and the brown bass blowing up topwater baits is not what I remember.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that trip is Davy telling stories. Yep, Davy Hite telling stories.

Quiet and classy

Davy has certainly made his mark as a professional bass fisherman, and he is one of the 51 incredible anglers who are fishing in the biggest bass fishing event known to man this week — the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. He actually held up the trophy on the final day of the Classic a few years ago, etching his name in history. But have you ever heard him tell a story?

Davy's such a quiet, classy man, and if you meet him you'd probably ask him to show you how he rigs a floating worm or how he walks a topwater bait. You should get him to tell you a funny story instead. Here's how I found out about his hidden talent.

We were fishing real close to our camp because we were afraid a "toad strangler" was coming. Sure enough, it began to sprinkle. Then rain a little harder. Then the bottom fell out. We paddeled like a couple of Indians and made it back to camp and under the cook tarp. We built a fire and watched it rain. We cooked and ate breakfast and watched it rain. We cleaned up the dishes but never got out from under the tarp because it never stopped pouring.

My son, Matt, was on the trip and under the tarp with everyone else. And I think we were talking about the two of us going on fishing trips when he was young. That triggered Davy to start telling us about going on trips with his Dad when he was young.

"I guess I was about 6 or 7 years old, and Dad and I were on a small river near my home in South Carolina. We had a small boat with a console and steering wheel and Dad on occasions would let me steer as we were scooting across the lake or river. So I had a little sense about moving the boat in the right directions, but not enough to handle the situation that was about to happen."

Writing this story does not do it justice, because Davy Hite's South Carolina accent is half the experience. However, I'm going to continue anyway.

"Well a 20-horsepower motor doesn't seem large, but at the time it felt like we were going 100 and Dad had me behind the steering wheel." Davy continued, "Dad always sat behind me and in complete control of the throttle. However, on this occasion he got too far behind me and fell backwards out of the boat."

The whole "under the tarp gang" was now stunned. Davy's story had started out funny, turned into a nightmare, but when you envisioned it, was back to being funny.

"Oh you think you're surprised? Think how I felt when I turned around and Dad was gone! Remember I can handle the wheel, but knew nothing about controlling the speed or shutting it down. Finally, I found a place wide enough to turn around. And now I'm headed right straight for Dad, who's still in the middle of the river, treading water."

Can you imagine what's going through the father's mind? First, he has fallen out of the boat, and that would traumatize most of us. But then he surfaces to see his young son guiding the boat away without a clue as how to stop it.

"When I looked back Daddy was waving like a wild man for me to turn, but when I turned and headed right for him, he just as wildly was waving for me to turn left or right."

Davy's dad didn't hit his head on anything when he fell out. He could swim, so he wasn't drowning. But his 7-year-old son was about to run over him in the boat.

"Oh yes, I missed him, continued straight to the bank, drove into a tree and some bushes, and the engine stopped," Davy said.

It probably wasn't funny at the time, but at that moment, everyone under that cook tarp was doubled over laughing. I'll never forget picturing that whole three or four minutes in the life of that boy and his father. Or the job Davy did telling the story.

If you see Davy Hite at the Classic, ask him to tell you about how he and his father would get trotline bait by padding under a very low bridge and floating "cherry bombs" along the surface under the bridge.

Like his boat steering adventure, the cherry bomb story sure paints an immediate picture doesn't it? It, too, has a great ending.