Ott DeFoe’s Bassmaster Classic resume is short, but it is full of top finishes. Although DeFoe has only fished in four Classics, he has amassed a Top 11 finish in every one. A lofty feat for an angler who isn’t even 30 years old.
After Day 1 on Lake Hartwell the streak of Top 11 finishes was in doubt. DeFoe finished with just over 10 pounds and 22nd place. On Day 2, he upped his bag and weighed in over 13 pounds, but his position on the leaderboard remained unchanged. After bringing his best bag of the event to the scales on the final day, his 15-pound bag elevated him to — wouldn’t you know it — 11th place. Keeping his Classic resume nice and clean with four solid finishes.
He started off his Classic experience with a fifth-place finish in his first, which was held on the Red River. At the Grand Lake Classic in 2013 he placed 11th. With three bags over 20 pounds, he finished fourth at Lake Guntersville. After stubbing his toe on Day 1 of the 2015 Classic, he rebounded for yet another 11th-place finish at Hartwell. It’s not just consistency that is on DeFoe’s side, but the timing as well.
While a debate has been waged whether the Classic should be held in the summer or keep it during the late winter/early spring time period, DeFoe is glad that it is early in the year.
“I understand what fish do this time of the year. I feel like I can be pretty consistent any time of the year, but this time of the year more so.”
“With the cold wind chill and the low temps we faced this year are a little extreme, but if I’m looking at it from a competition standpoint and what suits my style best then I would rather keep it where it is (during the year).”
Why does this time of the year suit DeFoe’s style better than any other time? The answer can be summed up in one word: Prespawn.
The timing of the Elite Series schedule and the venues on the tour aren’t always conducive to prespawn patterns, but the one event that almost ensures that pattern and transition is the Bassmaster Classic.
“That’s a good thing about where I live,” said the Knoxville native. “We get to truly experience four seasons of fishing. Not only do we get prespawn around my area, but we often get to fish every stage of the prespawn.”
DeFoe has used the last few years of harsh winter weather to dial in how the weather affects the fish and how they position. The slightest change in weather can reposition bass and he now feels confident in his ability to know where they are going throughout this time of the year. With the severity of the winter weather this year the first Elite stop at Sabine River should welcome all seasons and patterns whether it be prespawn, spawn or possibly even a small portion of postspawn. A lot of empty stretches of water will greet the anglers and finding those highways that the bass are traveling on will be important, no matter what pattern anglers key in on.
Consistency is the name of the game and DeFoe has played it well up to this point in his career. Not only did he show it on the biggest stage at the Bassmaster Classic, DeFoe has shown it on the Elites and in the Opens. He has finished in the money in 47 of his 56 B.A.S.S. events with 31 finishes in the Top 20.
For DeFoe, 2014 was a down year in terms of his AOY finish. A 37th-place finish still put him in the Classic and his Douglas Lake Open victory double qualified the Tennessee angler. As a rookie in 2011 he took home the Rookie of the Year award after finishing fourth place in the Angler of the Year race and winning the All-Star Championship in Alabama. He followed up a stellar 2011 season with a runner-up finish in the 2012 Angler of the Year race. And prior to last year, Defoe finished in 13th overall.
His consistency is an underrated aspect of his game and as one of the quieter anglers on Tour, you don’t really hear about it unless you dive into the numbers.