Article courtesy of bassmaster.com | Craig Lamb
Ott DeFoe and Douglas Lake are becoming synonymous with victory after the Tennessean won his second-consecutive Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open on his home lake.
DeFoe, a Knoxville native and resident, won the tournament with 44 pounds, 9 ounces, after weighing daily limits of 15 pounds, 16-15 and 12-10. Patrick Walters of Laden, S.C., took second with 41-9, and Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., was third with 40-13. Japanese angler Toshinari Namiki of Tokyo finished fourth with 39-9, and finishing fifth with 38-5 was Garrett Paquette of Canton, Mich.
DeFoe, who won the 2014 Open on Douglas, also won it again this same week last year.
“The lake level was a few feet higher, the water was about seven degrees warmer and there was much less tournament pressure prior to this year’s tournament,” he said. “Those were the major differences between this year and last year.”
DeFoe fished the same stretch of the French Broad River, one of two rivers flowing into the lake. He was fishing so far up the river his area was immune from the falling water level that hindered the success of others.
“That far up the river you worry less about the lake level dropping, turning off the bite, because it’s all about the water flow,” he explained. “Clear water and flow are the two keys to success up there.”
Paying attention to the aggressiveness of the bite was another key in choosing the best lures to use. On Thursday DeFoe anticipated catching his fish on fast-moving reaction baits. After catching none he slowed his presentation by flipping a jig into shoreline cover. Making the switch produced subtle bites, and the confidence lure reassured him of fish presence in the area.
“I could tell then the bass weren’t biting as aggressive as I anticipated they would,” he said.
On Friday DeFoe made a bold move, switching to a most obscure lure choice for the swift, cool water pouring over large boulders and through overhang trees and laydowns. That choice was a 2.5-inch Terminator Walking Frog, a lure he never used in the familiar water until then.
“It was a weird choice but the lure allowed me to pitch it directly into the thicker shoreline cover, give it twitch and produce the bites,” he explained. “What I learned over a lifetime of fishing up there is a topwater is the way to go when the current slows and the water clears up.”
When the bite was less aggressive he chose a 6-inch Bass Pro Shops Magnum Fin-Eke Worm, rigged on a 3/0 VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Worm Hook with 3/16-ounce weight.
DeFoe’s winnings included cash and a Skeeter ZX200 with Yamaha VF200LA and custom trailer. A Minn Kota Fortrex, Lowrance Elite Ti 7 and other factory accessories were included.
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance, and the Town of Dandridge were event hosts.