PART II: HATS OFF TO ELITES
This is Part II of a five-part series on Elite Series anglers and their relationship with hats.
There’s a treasured hat in Bassmaster Elite angler Davy Hite’s collection, which despite continual weeding is north of the century mark.
“If you own 100 hats, I guess you have to call yourself a collector, but I don’t really collect them – I just can’t throw certain ones away,” Hite said. “You don’t want to throw away memories. This is my 23rd year, so I have a lot of memories.”
Although he does have two AOY titles, Hite’s greatest memory is his 1999 Bassmaster Classic title. He knows exactly where that white Evinrude hat with blue bill and lettering sits.
“The hat I wore when I won the Classic, I’ve got,” he said. “I got a picture of me in it, standing there holding the trophy with my wife and son … it really means something.
“There are those that you just can’t throw away even though you’re not going to wear them anymore because of the memories. I really don’t have every tournament win. I really should have thought to do that.”
Mike Iaconelli has kept ahold of his winning hats, but he’s a collector by nature. In his home office, he has hundreds of inkwells and ink bottles dating to the 1800s. In specially designed racks in his closet, there are around 100 Philadelphia Phillies caps.
“That’s my big hat fetish,” Ike said. “I’ve been a Phillies fan since I was a little kid and collected since I was 12, 13 years old.”
That’s a separate collection of his bass fishing hats, which are more personal. There he has the BassCat hat he wore during his win on the Delaware in 2014.
“In the 2003 Classic, I wore a Mann’s bait hat – that’s my all-time favorite hat, just because it has so much significance to it,” he said, adding he mostly wore a red Toyota hat during his Angler of the Year season.
Kevin VanDam, the most decorated angler of all-time, has hundreds of hats with special meaning but most of his hats get donated. He said he has kept a “bunch of hats that I’ve gotten from certain people. I’ve got one from George Bush, an autographed hat.”