Major League Fishing pro Ott DeFoe

TULSA, Okla. – Stage Eight in Neenah, Wisconsin was missing one of the league’s most recognizable anglers last week. Ott DeFoe was forced to pull himself out of the competition two weeks ago when his doctors told him that he had a torn mitral valve in his heart.

The torn valve was successfully repaired on June 26 thanks to a minimally invasive procedure. The doctors went in to repair the valve through DeFoe’s side instead of performing open-heart surgery, helping speed up the recovery time for the Tennessee pro. As his two-week checkup approaches, DeFoe is still feeling some side effects.

“I’m feeling sore, but I’m making improvements every day,” DeFoe said. “I’m pretty tired. I’ve been taking it pretty easy since before the procedure and now after. I’m staying at home now and trying to rest up. The doctors told me the first two weeks after the procedure would be when I am the most affected by the soreness. By the end of four weeks, I should be pretty close to back to normal.”

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic Champion has received floods of well-wishes and get-well-soon messages from his fellow MLF pros and fans from across the nation. While he rests at home in Blaine, Tennessee with his family by his side, DeFoe has been unable to do the thing he loves most: fish.

“I’m itching to get back out on the water,” DeFoe said with a laugh. “The only good part about me being sidelined right now is that it’s so hot in Tennessee this time of year so the fishing isn’t that good.”

Even though DeFoe was unable to compete in Stage Eight, his season was so successful that he had already earned enough points to qualify for REDCREST. The Bass Pro Shops pro finished in 16th place in the points standings thanks to five Knockout Round appearances and three Top-10s. With REDCREST nearly two months away, DeFoe has already started making plans for a trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“I fully intend to compete at REDCREST,” DeFoe said. “I told my doctors I wanted to be there and they told me that I should be good to go when it rolls around. I qualified for the Summit Cup that begins in late July and I’m planning on competing in that as well.”

DeFoe will continue to rest and regain his strength as he and the 29 other pros whole qualified for REDCREST will meet in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 21 for the inaugural championship.