COLUMBIA, South Carolina – In the past two years of Major League Fishing Select competition, Keith Poche and Ott Defoe have been models of consistency. Poche has won three of the last four Select events; Defoe has three Top 5s and hasn’t finished outside of the Top 10.
In 2019, it’ll be up to the MLF Cup anglers to deal with Poche and Defoe full time.
Now that the smoke has cleared in the two-event 2018 MLF Select schedule, Poche and Defoe sit 1-2 in cumulative points for the 2017 and 2018 season: Poche in first with 85 points, Defoe in second with 76. By virtue of those points, both anglers have qualified for full-time Cup status, and will compete in the two MLF Cup events scheduled for 2019 (with a shot at making the 2019 General Tire World Championship).
“When I started with the Selects in 2015, making the Cups was the carrot I was chasing,” Defoe says. “I barely missed qualifying the first two times I was eligible, so it’s a great feeling to have finally been successful in making it to that level. I’ve watched the World Championship on television, and it looks like an awesome event. MLF is truly the toughest form of competition we have in professional bass fishing, and in that event, you’re fishing against the guys who are the very best at it. I’m excited about that.”
Poche says he’s also excited about being eligible to compete in the MLF World Championship.
“I’ve had some lucky breaks, I’ve done well in it, and I was able to get it done this year,” Poche said.
Both Poche and Defoe have seen their share of Cup competition already under previous single-event qualifying rules. Poche has fished in three Cup events, Defoe in five. Defoe finished second to Scott Suggs at the 2015 Challenge Cup in Waterville, Maine, and third behind Kevin VanDam and Todd Faircloth at the 2016 Summit Cup in La Crosse, Wisc.
Defoe is a four-time B.A.S.S. winner and currently sits at No. 5 in the Bassfan.com World Rankings. Poche holds the highest “divisional” per-tournament finish on the 48-man MLF roster in the past two years (3.75th place on average).
Under new rules adopted by MLF in 2018, Poche and Defoe will replace the two Cup anglers who finish with the lowest two-year-cumulative point totals following the 2018 Challenge Cup. Those two spots have not been announced yet.