Memories of Ott as a kid

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A young Ott DeFoe.

Here is a little story about Ott DeFoe that will shed some light on why he is now a Bassmaster Classic Champion. Every year from 1996 to 2006, Ott’s dad would bring Ott and his brother to the Classic.

I fished all of those Classics, and pretty soon I began to recognize Ott each summer. He was the lanky kid with the big smile, and even bigger passion for bass fishing.

Ott would always approach me to get an autograph, then ask a lot of really intelligent questions. His affable personality and love of the sport made it easy for us to become friends. Ott and his dad and brother became part of my Classic experience each summer that I looked forward to. 

One of Ott’s favorite places to hang out at the Classic was at the launch ramp where the Classic boats returned each afternoon. After we’d load up, the boats would get staged 10 to 15 minutes prior to heading to the weigh-in. Ott would always come around to my boat and peek inside to see what I had tied on that day. We would talk about how the day went, and I’d throw him a few baits I’d used that day.

One year, at the 2001 Classic in New Orleans, a particular new rod and reel on the front deck of my Skeeter caught Ott’s attention, and he started asking about it. I recall picking the rod up, handing it to Ott, and telling him to run down to the water and try it for himself. He did so, and he returned a few minutes later sporting that big Ott DeFoe smile. He was about 14 at the time, and I will never forget the joy on his face.

Over time, that young man grew up, kept God and family first, kept his passion for bass fishing and worked his tail off. Today he is a Bassmaster Classic Champion. Big Bass, Big Stage, Big Dreams.

I couldn’t be prouder for you, Ott. Congratulations my friend.

I'm so thankful we live in a country where stories like this come to pass. God bless America!