DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — Ott DeFoe shook two monkeys off his back in winning the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Allstate.
First, he’s bound for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic if he fishes the two remaining divisional events on the schedule. Next, he finally won on a lake that until now only allowed near misses for claiming the winner’s trophy.
Here’s a look at keys to the win beyond the textbook factors exploited by DeFoe on Douglas Lake.
Key #1: Open Mind
The most constant factor in the tournament was changing fishing conditions. Watching the daily change in the leader board was all it took to recognize how much the fishing conditions fluctuated each day.
DeFoe quickly discovered that flirting with change was a deterrent in his quest to win.
Day 1 was a case in point. He caught 19 pounds, 3 ounces by 9:30 a.m. and then nothing more for the remainder of the day.
“This time of season the biggest fish in the lake live in the lower and middle end,” he observed. “I could see them but couldn’t get them to bite.”
Given that knowledge DeFoe had two options. Stay there and continue changing techniques until a pattern fell into place. Or, leave the area all together and make a drastic move.
He chose the latter. Moving to the extreme upper end of the lake was the payoff.
“I immediately told myself that staying in the lower end would be a big mistake.”
Keeping the open mind gave DeFoe the mindset that it was okay to make a gamble.
Key #2: Local Knowledge
Douglas Lake is DeFoe’s home lake, even though he rarely casts a line into the fishery due to his hectic schedule.
His total practice time of 10 hours was spent running the lake and checking water clarity. He shunned the thought of wasting the limited time by attempting to find a sustaining pattern.
He found what he needed in the upper lake. The right water clarity lined up with another key to the victory. Current. It was important to the bait presentation and choice of lure.
“I didn’t expect the lake to set up like it did,” he said. “The tournament really should have been won down in the lower lake.”
Knowing that something didn’t match up led him elsewhere. Knowledge of the available options in location paid off.
Key #3: Presentation
A Rapala DT16 was DeFoe’s lure of choice. Crankbaits were a popular selection among the top finishers. The edge for DeFoe was how he presented the diving lure to the bass.
“Speed was very much a key,” he said. “There was no other way for it to work.”
DeFoe stayed with the speed retrieve no matter where he fished on the lake.
Key #4: Consistency
Like the fishing conditions, the leader board changed each day. DeFoe noted the difficulty of maintaining consistency on the lake.
“It’s very hard to consistently catch a big limit here because there are so many fish of the same size,” he said. “When the fish turn on you’ve got to be ready and not make any mistakes,” he said.
“You have to make the most of that moment because the remainder of the day might be a dry run.”
On Day 1 he found that out after the fish shut down after 9:30. The scenario replayed on the final day. That’s when a school of largemouth erupted into a feeding frenzy. It was brief but productive.
Recognizing the need for change, local knowledge and consistent lure presentation paid off big for DeFoe. As a result his daily weight reflected the consistency needed for the win.