DANDRIDGE, Tenn.—Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe has been the model of consistency as he retained his lead at the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3 on Douglas Lake.
After catching a 17-pound, 5-ounce limit on Day 1 to take the lead in the tournament, the Blaine, Tenn., pro followed up Friday with another 17-5 limit to stay in first place.
"My bites were more solid today," DeFoe said. "I had four bass that were 3-pounders and then I had a big one of 4 -13. Yesterday I had one fish that was probably 4, another good one, a 3-1/2 and a couple more that were over 2 pounds."
DeFoe caught the 4-13 at about 10 o'clock Friday, which allowed him to cull out a 13-incher.
DeFoe once again navigated the river with his Tracker tunnel hull aluminum boat running over shoals as shallow as 8- to 10- inches to key on the same areas he fished Thursday. "One section that was good to me yesterday was good to me again today," he said. "The river is falling. It was really high this morning and then it fell really hard. It should hopefully fall steadily tomorrow and that is what I would like for it to do."
The three-time B.A.S.S. winner caught all of his bass on one lure today whereas yesterday he relied on three lures to complete his limit. "I definitely switched up a little bit," DeFoe said.
With runner-up Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., fishing some of the same spots, DeFoe is considering running farther up the river tomorrow. "I could go all the way up river to North Carolina if I wanted to," DeFoe said. "I just don't see the need in it."
Benton moved into second place with 31-7 after catching a 16-14 limit today. "It was tougher today actually," he said. "It was a grind because I got only six keeper bites all day."
The Bassmaster Elite Series pro said he thought his area has gotten "beat up" the past two days with some other competitors—including DeFoe—also fishing the same river section. "So I am going to have to make some adjustments," he said.
The rest of the top five anglers include Hunter Shryock, Newcomerstown, Ohio, third, 29-15; David Williams, Newton, N.C., fourth, 29-2; and Brian Latimer, Belton, S.C., fifth, 28-15.
Versailles, Ky., angler Jon Abbott caught only one keeper Friday, but his 4-10 bass moved him into first place in the co-angler division with 13-1. The 36-year-old retired police officer grew up fishing Douglas Lake, but had not fished the lake in several years. He relied on a finesse fishing tactic to catch his lone keeper.
Chad Pipkens of Lansing Mich., continues to lead in the pro division of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award with a 5-11 largemouth. The leader in the co-angler division of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award is still Chancey Hatfield of Mayking, Ky., with a 4-13 largemouth.
The host for this event is the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County. Saturday's launch will be held at the Dandridge Public Boat Dock, 100 Public Drive in Dandridge. The final weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops at 3629 Outdoor Sportsman Place in Kodak, Tenn., and begin at 4 p.m. ET.