Where’s Ott been? That kind of talk had been going on for a while as Ott DeFoe, who came into B.A.S.S. like gangbusters, started to blend in.
DeFoe had an incredible first two years on the Elites, when he recorded more than half of his 21 top 10 finishes. He finished 2011 as Rookie of the Year and won the All-Star event. In 2014, DeFoe added an Open win, but those white-hot beginnings had cooled. He was expected to win more blue trophies.
Winning the Plano Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River presented by Favorite Fishing answered questioners. But yeah, it has been some time. Yet it isn't just anyone who wins an Elite title. For most, they are few and far between.
“It kind of has been a long time coming. Six years,” DeFoe said on stage. “It’s not that long for some of these guys. A lot of these guys have fished out here a lot longer, a lot of guys I have a lot of respect for who haven’t won one yet.”
“But it’s awesome. The Lord blessed me so much this week. If you catch a 6-pounder on the Mississippi River, it’s probably your time to win.”
DeFoe caught the big bass of the event in the final moments of Day 2. The 6-pound, 1-ounce lunker from the Onalaska spillway was a 4-pound cull producing his largest bag (17-11) that led to his 63-10 total.
“It’s an incredible week and an incredible feeling and something I’ll never forget,” DeFoe said. “Something I want to feel again, too.”
That feeling is something DeFoe has worked for since he was 9 years old, attending his first Classic. It’s something he’ll probably get to experience sometime again, and he hopes before the next six years are up.
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIEND
The spillway, where DeFoe had caught most of his weight the first three days, went dry early on Championship Sunday. With no fish after 10 a.m., he went searching and got by with a little help from a friend.
Gerald Swindle had caught a small limit and was heading from no-cull Minnesota waters to Wisconsin when he saw DeFoe and pulled up next to him. Their exchange, with Swindle telling him where to go and what to throw, was broadcast on Bassmaster LIVE.
“When I pulled up on him, you could see his expression, his body language,” said Swindle, kind of surprised DeFoe was at zero.
“I said I ain’t got one,” DeFoe said. “I’ll take any kind of bone you can throw.”
DeFoe followed Swindle’s suggestions and caught a couple small fish he’d later cull, but it got him back on course. With trophy in hand, DeFoe said he had to give Swindle a big assist for this win as well as his All-Star title in 2011 when G-Man turned him onto a drainage pipe that produced.
“Ott DeFoe would do it for me. He’s the nicest guy in the world,” Swindle said. “You pull for all these guys. I don’t pick one guy to win. I try to win myself. I wouldn’t pull against Edwin (Evers), I wouldn’t pull against Ott, but I would help them both if I could.”