Bass fishing is a sport where anglers experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in only a few minutes worth of time.
Meaning that professional anglers like Ott DeFoe must learn to effectively manage their thoughts and control their emotions.
If they are to find success day in and day out on the water, that is.
“Yeah we do,” DeFoe said prior to his first day of competition at the 2017 General Tire Summit Cup. “Whether that’s a lost fish…or a wreck on the road on the way to the boat ramp.”
If that last statement seems odd, it’s because DeFoe was actually involved in a fender bender as the convoy of boats, anglers and tournament workers headed to the lake in Grand Rapids, Minn.
While no one was hurt in the incident – except for a boat and motor combination – DeFoe never let the accident rattle his nerves or shake his confidence.
“That kind of stuff happens,” he said. “It’s not something that you want, but it does occur. And whatever it is, you either need to have a mechanism that helps you get rid of some frustration or just have the ability to keep moving forward.”
For the Knoxville, Tenn., angler, pro fishing is a sport where emotional and mental spin-outs on the water are commonplace.
That happens since a lake’s best spots can be occupied by other anglers, a key fish can be lost at the boat and a tournament win can evaporate based on one bad decision.
MLF adds in the high-pressure stakes of the SCORETRACKER LIVE! leaderboard and the task of staying even keel gets even harder for a fishing pro.
Fortunately for DeFoe, he has a natural laid-back personality that seems to rarely get rattled.
“I think it’s just (kind of) my make-up,” said DeFoe, the 2011 B.A.S.S. Rookie of the Year who has three B.A.S.S. wins under his belt along with an FLW triumph.
“Having my faith in God (is a big key for me),” he added. “And remembering that this is just fishing is also a key, too.
“Someone a lot smarter than me once said that the only thing that is life and death is life and death. Knowing that helps keep everything in proper perspective, I guess. You don’t really have to fret the small stuff. Let it go, handle what you can and don’t worry about the rest.”
When I asked DeFoe how he applied those thoughts to the craziness and stress that can come when the leaderboard starts to sing, he just smiled and slightly shrugged his shoulders.
“Me, personally, I like SCORETRACKER LIVE!,” he said. “I like knowing where I am in the field. And I try to use that information to my advantage.”
One way that happens according to the Tennessee pro is to either let the SCORETRACKER LIVE! updates validate what he is doing – and the results that he is experiencing – or cause him to realize that a change is necessary.
“If everybody is catching fish and what I’m doing is producing a bite every now and then, then I’ll probably keep going in the direction that I’m going,” DeFoe said.
“But then again, if the opposite is happening and everybody is catching them except for me, then I know I need to be changing something and doing something different.”
While DeFoe said that he’s not the kind of angler to go drive up to someone and look at what they are doing, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t paying attention to what’s happening around him.
Especially if he can see other anglers in an area – he notes that many MLF zones aren’t that big – and he knows how they are doing based on SCORETRACKER LIVE! updates.
“That can be a clue that I can build (something) on,” DeFoe said. “I try to use all of those things to my advantage as much as possible.”
An example would be Kevin VanDam, the northern bass fishing legend from Michigan who is very much at home when he is fishing waters in the North Country.
If DeFoe knows that VanDam is off to a hot start one day here in Minnesota, what clues can he take away from that knowledge?
“That he’s probably throwing a jerkbait,” DeFoe laughed. “He’s going to do that kind of stuff. And that’s what I’m talking about in terms of using SCORETRACKER to your advantage.
“And if Ish starts catching fish today, then I’m probably going to get my frog out,” he added. “You know what these guys are strong at and what they like to do. So to me, I try to play that up in my mind and make it work for me.”
Because when the call comes for the anglers to toss their “Lines in!” it’s time for DeFoe to put the blinders on and go fishing.
Even on a day that started with a fender bender.