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Florida-Georgia line bass: first of the year elite series on Seminole.

The Bassmaster Elite Series began its big league, nationwide tournament trail in north Florida. The first Elite event of 2014 took place on Lake Seminole which straddles the Florida/Georgia border where it meets the Alabama state line. A week later the prostrailered their logo-wrapped boats to Palatka where another champion would win a six-figure paycheck.

Hot off his FLW Tour win on Lake Okeechobee and a top 10 in the FLW Tour on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell, Brett Hite of Arizona found an inexhaustible wad of border bass in Seminole's shallow grass beds.

Hite predominantly used the Chatterbait Elite to pile up 97 pounds, 10 ounces and a margin of 13 pounds over runner-up Todd Fairdoth from Texas, who posted a total of 84 pounds, 10 ounces over four days of competition.

As for lure size and color, Hite used 3/8 and 1/2-ounce Chatterbaits, caught most of his bass on the green pumpkin color, using a black-and-blue version in the morning orto give bass a fresh look. His trailer of choice was a 41/2-inch Gary Yamamoto Swimming Senko in colors that matched the lures.

Days later at the Elite Series on the St. Johns River, recently-crowned 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell of Alabama took the early lead with 27 pounds, 3 ounces. On day two, the 2012 Classic Champ, Chris Lane, took over the lead with an eye-popping sack that weighed 37 pounds, 9 ounces. Lane never looked back. He finished with a total of 90-13, took the trophy and $102,000 cash. A native Floridian who now gets his mail in Alabama, Lane flipped pads in Lake Dexter and said he ran an hour and twenty minutes, one way, every day to reach his fish.

During practice Lane boated a 12-pounder, threw her back and started fishing without hooks. That's when he knew he was on the winning fish. "I had bass ripping pads in half without even being hooked. They wouldn't let go of the bait. It was just attached with a Hitch Hiker, so they really wanted to eat."

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Title Annotation:Freshwater Scene
Author:McCullough, Vance
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jun 1, 2014
Words:347
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