Ott DeFoe went on a 66-minute run that will live in MLF lore for years to come. Photo by Jesse Schultz
By Mason Prince - March 19, 2020
ATHENS, Texas – Ott DeFoe had a remarkable 66 minutes during the Championship Round of the General Tire Stage Three Presented by TrueTimber that will live on in Bass Pro Tour history for many years to come.
DeFoe completed an improbable run of 18 scorable bass for 57 pounds, 4 ounces to give him his first Bass Pro Tour Stage Championship trophy.
As we celebrate DeFoe’s first win on the Bass Pro Tour, let’s take a moment to appreciate exactly by the numbers what was witnessed during that 66-minute span on Lake Athens.
DeFoe’s run began with just an hour and 15 minutes remaining in Period 3. He was more than 19 pounds out of first place thanks to a late morning and early afternoon in which he struggled. Instead of focusing offshore, the Tennessee pro was in a pocket fishing shallow without much success.
He had only 12-8 on SCORETRACKER® to begin Period 3 and knew he had to make a move if he wanted to catch up to the then-leader Mark Daniels, Jr.
“I knew when Mark had a 15-pound lead I wasn’t going to catch him by fishing on the bank,” DeFoe explained. “I knew I had to move offshore and find something else. I didn’t want to go to the bank, honestly, so I was happy moving offshore. I knew from what I found in practice that the offshore bite was going to be a big player.”
DeFoe pulled up to a bridge with a causeway, some current and riprap where he threw out a crankbait. He got his first bite of the third period at 4:45 p.m. CT. The fish weighed in at 2-3 and that was just the start of the SCORETRACKER® blow up.
Starting with that first scorable bass of Period 3, DeFoe never looked back, adding another bass to SCORETRACKER® every three minutes and 40 seconds. During that span, the average weight of each bass he caught was around 3-3.
“I felt the crankbait bump across the fishes’ backs, that’s how I knew how many were in that school,” DeFoe recalled. “A jerkbait and a wakebait were important, but nothing was more important that my Rapala DT-10 in a new “Bigg’s Shad” color. That new color will be coming out at ICAST this year, so look for that.”
That 3-3 average would have been a lot lower if not for a massive boost from a 9-6 East Texas giant that he caught on that DT-10. DeFoe was less than 4 pounds below Daniels when he hooked into that 9-6, moving him ahead of Daniels and Alton Jones, Jr. by more than 5 pounds.
DeFoe had the championship trophy all locked up, all he needed was time to wind down. He mentioned to his camera how he would love to catch one more scorable bass, “Just for fun.” Never mind the fact that he already increased his lead to more than 30 pounds, he was having too much fun to even notice.
With his official counting down from 15 seconds until the end of the round, Ott set the hook on another big bass. His official kept counting down closer to zero, but DeFoe didn’t seem in that big of a hurry. Time ended up running out, and his fish wouldn’t count.
“Let’s weigh it just to see,” DeFoe said with a smile.
It was a 5-6.
If he really wanted to, he could have swung that bass into the boat with a few seconds to spare. However, with the win already locked up, he made the decision to take it easy for one simple reason.
“I honestly didn’t try to horse that fish in because I didn’t want to lose that DT-10,” DeFoe said with a laugh. “If I would have broken off that 5-pounder and lost my bait I would have been pretty upset. Since I knew I had the win wrapped up, I just took my time. It still would have been nice to add a 5-pounder, though.”
March 18 was already a special day in Ott DeFoe’s mind. It was a year ago to the day that he hoisted the 2019 Bassmaster Classic trophy over his head for the first time with a win on the Tennessee River. Fast forward 365 days—don’t forget about the extra day this year—and DeFoe is once again a first-time champion, this time on the Bass Pro Tour.
“I don’t know what it is about this day, but I’m a big fan of it,” DeFoe said. “This is just a really special day for me and my family and I truly cannot thank God enough for the opportunities he has given me.”
The difference in weight between Ott DeFoe and second-place finisher Alton Jones, Jr. DeFoe finished with the biggest bass of the day, his biggest bass of the week, the lead in the Race for the Points Championship, and the Stage Three Championship.
Congratulations to Ott DeFoe for an incredible performance on Lake Athens.