Major League Fishing/Josh Gassmann

Ott DeFoe Reflects on Bass Pro Tour Stage Three Win

With help from his sponsors and gear, Ott DeFoe wracked up a Bass Pro Tour win in Texas. Here's how he did it. 

Despite entering the final round 19 pounds behind the leader, Humminbird and Minn Kota pro Ott DeFoe came from behind to check off his first win on the Bass Pro Tour in exciting fashion last week in Texas, fishing Lake Fork and then Lake Athens.

DeFoe, winner of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, put a championship day to remember on Athens, landing 18 scoreable fish in a little over an hour. The total weight of 57 pounds, 4 ounces was enough to clinch his first Bass Pro Tour Stage Championship Trophy.

DeFoe had success sight fishing and connecting with shallow fish during the qualification and knockout rounds on Lake Fork, utilizing his Minn Kota Talon anchors and Ultrex trolling motor to pick apart pockets of spawning bass in the early days of the tournament to stay alive.

"In the beginning, Lake Fork was all about sight fishing and looking for fish on beds," noted DeFoe through his Johnson Outdoors partners. "I was trying to get a pre-spawn bite working in the shallows and I could see the fish I wanted to target. I would Talondown in the soft bottom mode to not spook them off of their beds to make the casts I needed to. I was also able to mark and add waypoints for fish I'd see  and come back to them and ease into casting range using this technique, and it was working."

DeFoe moved on to prepare for the championship round on Lake Athens. Using his Humminbird MEGA 360 Imaging and MEGA Side Imaging, he noticed that fish had moved out of the shallows and were schooling in 6-12 feet of water, typical during post-spawn movement. It sparked something.

"It honestly seemed like a different climate at Lake Athens... I started off with the same approach as Lake Fork and wasn't seeing the fish on beds like I had been and knew then I had to move off the bank and use the HELIX 12 with MEGA Side Imaging to help find the fish I was looking for," DeFoe said.

Moving out of the shallows allowed DeFoe to put the Humminbird electronics to work and spend time locating fish and looking for different areas during the practice round that he would try to come back to later.

"I came out around a point during practice at Lake Athens and noticed a couple fish bust at the surface and as I got closer, I realized it was a group schooling in about 8 feet of water above a hard bottom," he said. "I cast into them a couple times and caught a smaller one and then a four-pounder and could see on my MEGA 360 that it was a big group. I continued to idle around and mark these similar areas that would top out around six feet, and it was unbelievable how many fish I could see on Side Imaging in those areas all in six to twelve feet of water with a rise and a hard bottom. I wasn't seeing as many fish on beds and I could tell that a few that I was catching were post spawn. At that point, I was committed to continuing this method and with the few hours I had left, I planned to study what I was seeing on Side Imaging while marking waypoints and graphing as much of the 1,800-acre lake as I could."

Little did he know that the fish that would score him the win would not come from those locations. Texas bass fishing can be a funny thing, can't it?

"I had seen a few fish on this spot under a bridge and right at the ramp during practice but didn't catch much at that time. I had also passed it up during the tournament three times that day and on my fourth pass by I saw a group on my MEGA Side Imaging as I was going under the bridge. I told my camera man, they are right there. I just need to get them to bite." DeFoe commented.

"I hit Spot-Lock on the Ultrex and worked from the back of the boat with the nose upwind so I could make the cast I needed to. I threw a crankbait first and could feel the bait bouncing off fish there were so many of them," DeFoe explained. "I knew then this was it. On my fourth cast I caught one and then they went crazy and it blew up from that point."

Ott scored the biggest fish during the championship round with a 9 pound 6 ounce largemouth and finished the day with a margin of 28 pounds 3 ounces over the next closest competitor. He jumped to the top of the leaderboard in record time with 23 fish for 69 pounds 12 ounces on the final day of the tournament.

MLF/Jesse Schultz

"Humminbird MEGA Side Imaging was a crucial tool on my boat that helped locate and confidently fish areas that I had passed up several times before. Being able to pick apart unfamiliar water is key to finding these big fish. Learning their movements helps to understand and adapt in changing conditions. The One-Boat Network allows me to have complete control from anywhere in the boat and make real time decisions that play a big part in my success," added DeFoe.

It's not the first time Ott DeFoe has celebrated a victory in March. It was almost exactly one year ago that he found himself on the Bassmaster stage hoisting the trophy for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic Championship celebration and now he is celebrating again with this MLF win in 2020.

With the experience and skill he's built over the years, plus the Minn Kota and Humminbird One-Boat Network on his side, Ott DeFoe will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

The next event on the MLF schedule, Stage Four in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been postponed. As of right now, Stage Five at Grand Lake O' The Cherokees in Grove, Oklahoma beginning on April 24 is scheduled to occur.