Gear

Elite Man Caves: Ott DeFoe

Tennessee angler Ott DeFoe shows us where he prepares for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

It’s a chilly day in the Great Smoky Mountains foothills of east Tennessee and Ott DeFoe is all smiles. That’s because his new Nitro Z21 just arrived from Tracker Marine Group headquarters in Springfield, Mo. Before loading the boat for the busy season there is work to be done.
Photo: Craig Lamb - It’s a chilly day in the Great Smoky Mountains foothills of east Tennessee and Ott DeFoe is all smiles. That’s because his new Nitro Z21 just arrived from Tracker Marine Group headquarters in Springfield, Mo. Before loading the boat for the busy season there is work to be done.
Outside this spacious man cave is DeFoe’s newly wrapped tow vehicle. Inside the cave it’s warm from heat generated by a furnace and lots of elbow grease.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Outside this spacious man cave is DeFoe’s newly wrapped tow vehicle. Inside the cave it’s warm from heat generated by a furnace and lots of elbow grease.
Anthony Hampton, a dealer installation rep for Blue Water LED, is unpacking a lighting system for the new rig. Red and green lights will be installed throughout the deck. White lights will illuminate storage compartments and livewells.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Anthony Hampton, a dealer installation rep for Blue Water LED, is unpacking a lighting system for the new rig. Red and green lights will be installed throughout the deck. White lights will illuminate storage compartments and livewells.
The work begins as an adhesive strip is in place across the port deck where it meets the gunwale. Hampton will spend this afternoon working and into the next day when he will add LED lighting to the truck. The package will include a unique feature.
Photo: Craig Lamb - The work begins as an adhesive strip is in place across the port deck where it meets the gunwale. Hampton will spend this afternoon working and into the next day when he will add LED lighting to the truck. The package will include a unique feature.
When DeFoe opens the truck door the ground surrounding it will illuminate with his brand logo. Hampton is only testing the light with a 9-volt battery. When connected to the 12-volt battery in the truck it will shine much brighter and wider.
Photo: Craig Lamb - When DeFoe opens the truck door the ground surrounding it will illuminate with his brand logo. Hampton is only testing the light with a 9-volt battery. When connected to the 12-volt battery in the truck it will shine much brighter and wider.
Meanwhile, DeFoe prepares for the LED work around the spacious front deck command center. The panel is wide enough for flush mounting electronic units with displays up to 12 inches. There’s also room for mounting and operating controls for the outboard trim and other essential electrical components of the Z21.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Meanwhile, DeFoe prepares for the LED work around the spacious front deck command center. The panel is wide enough for flush mounting electronic units with displays up to 12 inches. There’s also room for mounting and operating controls for the outboard trim and other essential electrical components of the Z21.
DeFoe fires up the Humminbirds for the initial cold start so the units can sync. Flush-mounted in the console is an ONIX8CI Combo with GPS Chartplotting for navigation. Simultaneously he’ll use the ONIX10CI SI Combo with HD side and down imaging for fish finding.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe fires up the Humminbirds for the initial cold start so the units can sync. Flush-mounted in the console is an ONIX8CI Combo with GPS Chartplotting for navigation. Simultaneously he’ll use the ONIX10CI SI Combo with HD side and down imaging for fish finding.
DeFoe moves the Nitro Z21 to his other man cave. The small storage building is packed with tackle, tools and other gear that will be loaded into the boat. In the background is the family RV where more gear is loaded for trips to tournament sites.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe moves the Nitro Z21 to his other man cave. The small storage building is packed with tackle, tools and other gear that will be loaded into the boat. In the background is the family RV where more gear is loaded for trips to tournament sites.
This man cave is small in size but big on interior functionality. DeFoe spends long hours here before and after trips prepping gear. It’s family friendly, too. Parker, Abbie and Elizabeth DeFoe spend playtime inside and the floors and walls are adorned with their artwork.
Photo: Craig Lamb - This man cave is small in size but big on interior functionality. DeFoe spends long hours here before and after trips prepping gear. It’s family friendly, too. Parker, Abbie and Elizabeth DeFoe spend playtime inside and the floors and walls are adorned with their artwork.
DeFoe stands at what he calls the “operating table.” It is where he tinkers with baits, repairs tackle and bonds with his kids.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe stands at what he calls the “operating table.” It is where he tinkers with baits, repairs tackle and bonds with his kids.
Here’s a sign of family existence in the DeFoe man cave. The scribbling on the wall is from Abbie with this motivational message for her dad. It reads “Ott Man Rules.”
Photo: Craig Lamb - Here’s a sign of family existence in the DeFoe man cave. The scribbling on the wall is from Abbie with this motivational message for her dad. It reads “Ott Man Rules.”
This pile of tackle represents what came out of DeFoe’s previous rig, a Nitro Z-9. The mound of black soft plastics on the floor won’t go into the new boat. Parker DeFoe collects what his dad brings back from the tournaments.
Photo: Craig Lamb - This pile of tackle represents what came out of DeFoe’s previous rig, a Nitro Z-9. The mound of black soft plastics on the floor won’t go into the new boat. Parker DeFoe collects what his dad brings back from the tournaments.
Parker’s green tractor is parked beside relics from the past. Today’s modern electronics make paper maps practically obsolete. Even so, DeFoe clings to these maps holding special memories.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Parker’s green tractor is parked beside relics from the past. Today’s modern electronics make paper maps practically obsolete. Even so, DeFoe clings to these maps holding special memories.
DeFoe doesn’t claim to be obsessed with organization but he does like to keep favorite lures easy to find. Hard baits, soft plastics, terminal tackle and more hang on the pegboard. So do retro relics from the past.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe doesn’t claim to be obsessed with organization but he does like to keep favorite lures easy to find. Hard baits, soft plastics, terminal tackle and more hang on the pegboard. So do retro relics from the past.
Favorites come off the wall and get placed into plastic utility boxes for the boat. This Rapala DT 14 will see heavy action during the season. Like the name implies the lure dives to a depth of 14 feet.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Favorites come off the wall and get placed into plastic utility boxes for the boat. This Rapala DT 14 will see heavy action during the season. Like the name implies the lure dives to a depth of 14 feet.
DeFoe snapped up the Swedish Pimple at a flea market some 20 years ago. It’s an ice fishing lure with a century of history in Sweden. Another relic is the Dance’s Eel endorsed by legendary angler Bill Dance. DeFoe found the 1980s TV infomercial throwback at an old tackle shop.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe snapped up the Swedish Pimple at a flea market some 20 years ago. It’s an ice fishing lure with a century of history in Sweden. Another relic is the Dance’s Eel endorsed by legendary angler Bill Dance. DeFoe found the 1980s TV infomercial throwback at an old tackle shop.
This ancient artifact is a conversation piece of artwork for the cave. Once upon a time, long ago, DeFoe discovered the decoy floating in an east Tennessee lake. That’s ironic considering waterfowl is a rare site in those parts.
Photo: Craig Lamb - This ancient artifact is a conversation piece of artwork for the cave. Once upon a time, long ago, DeFoe discovered the decoy floating in an east Tennessee lake. That’s ironic considering waterfowl is a rare site in those parts.
Another blast from the past with East Tennessee roots is this crankbait. DeFoe made it 10 years ago and it’s part of a tradition in his area. Fred Young whittled what became the forerunner to the modern crankbait in the Big O. The idea inspired DeFoe to make his own crankbaits.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Another blast from the past with East Tennessee roots is this crankbait. DeFoe made it 10 years ago and it’s part of a tradition in his area. Fred Young whittled what became the forerunner to the modern crankbait in the Big O. The idea inspired DeFoe to make his own crankbaits.
Young charged anglers up to $25 for his crankbaits in the 1970s. Ott’s Homemade Crankbaits sold for $10 when he built them while attending high school. The 25 color choices available included Bobby Gamble Homemade and Kellie Green Glow Chartreuse.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Young charged anglers up to $25 for his crankbaits in the 1970s. Ott’s Homemade Crankbaits sold for $10 when he built them while attending high school. The 25 color choices available included Bobby Gamble Homemade and Kellie Green Glow Chartreuse.
It’s back to the present with a huge undertaking about to get underway. DeFoe spent weeks leading up to this annual ritual by loading lures by category into these storage boxes.
Photo: Craig Lamb - It’s back to the present with a huge undertaking about to get underway. DeFoe spent weeks leading up to this annual ritual by loading lures by category into these storage boxes.
What looks like pro bass fishing’s version of a cave man emerges from his hide out. The time has come to begin a new season and that starts with a primordial ceremony dating back to angling’s origins. It’s time to load the boat.
Photo: Craig Lamb - What looks like pro bass fishing’s version of a cave man emerges from his hide out. The time has come to begin a new season and that starts with a primordial ceremony dating back to angling’s origins. It’s time to load the boat.
Out of the cave and into the Nitro Z21 comes the first of many trips with both hands loaded with utility boxes. Those are filled with every kind of bait imaginable, from every category of hard baits to boxes filled with terminal tackle and more.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Out of the cave and into the Nitro Z21 comes the first of many trips with both hands loaded with utility boxes. Those are filled with every kind of bait imaginable, from every category of hard baits to boxes filled with terminal tackle and more.
DeFoe has a big feat to achieve. He plans to load 30 large-sized utility boxes into a single compartment. The past several weeks were spent meeting delivery trucks and unpacking boxes filled with hundreds of new lures. Soon he will find out if everything fits.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe has a big feat to achieve. He plans to load 30 large-sized utility boxes into a single compartment. The past several weeks were spent meeting delivery trucks and unpacking boxes filled with hundreds of new lures. Soon he will find out if everything fits.
DeFoe carries two-dozen or more rod-and-reel combos at one time. Advancements in rod and reel design and technology are so specialized there’s a combo for every job.
Photo: Craig Lamb - DeFoe carries two-dozen or more rod-and-reel combos at one time. Advancements in rod and reel design and technology are so specialized there’s a combo for every job.
Organizing this pile is made easier with the Rod Glove. The protective sleeves come in 20 colors and allow categorizing by rod type, action and however else the user chooses for fast and easy identification in the storage compartment.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Organizing this pile is made easier with the Rod Glove. The protective sleeves come in 20 colors and allow categorizing by rod type, action and however else the user chooses for fast and easy identification in the storage compartment.
Another task is complete as the combos are loaded into the rod storage compartment.
Photo: Craig Lamb - Another task is complete as the combos are loaded into the rod storage compartment.
This combo has special meaning and it’s the last to be stowed in the rod locker. DeFoe dates it at least 20 years. He once used the Abu Garcia 6500 for striper fishing. The Fenwick rod adds some class to the rig.
Photo: Craig Lamb - This combo has special meaning and it’s the last to be stowed in the rod locker. DeFoe dates it at least 20 years. He once used the Abu Garcia 6500 for striper fishing. The Fenwick rod adds some class to the rig.
With the rods loaded all that remains on today’s project list is loading the utility boxes into this cavernous storage compartment. DeFoe arranges the boxes by application. Hard baits like plugs get stacked together for easy access. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics and terminal tackle are last to be loaded.
Photo: Craig Lamb - With the rods loaded all that remains on today’s project list is loading the utility boxes into this cavernous storage compartment. DeFoe arranges the boxes by application. Hard baits like plugs get stacked together for easy access. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics and terminal tackle are last to be loaded.
The job is complete with exception of one box. Somehow it fits inside and another task is checked off the list. What’s inside the spacious storage compartment of this Nitro Z21 could fit on the walls of a lakeside tackle shop in the early days of the sport.
Photo: Craig Lamb - The job is complete with exception of one box. Somehow it fits inside and another task is checked off the list. What’s inside the spacious storage compartment of this Nitro Z21 could fit on the walls of a lakeside tackle shop in the early days of the sport.
The season sometimes comes with its share of headaches, which explains why DeFoe carries two brands of pain relievers. This pile of necessities gets stored inside a small items compartment near the driver console. It’s all part of putting together the tools for a winning season.
Photo: Craig Lamb - The season sometimes comes with its share of headaches, which explains why DeFoe carries two brands of pain relievers. This pile of necessities gets stored inside a small items compartment near the driver console. It’s all part of putting together the tools for a winning season.