The Tennessee river rat did it again. Only this time, for the first time in his illustrious career, he did it in Florida. General Tire pro Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, caught 30 bass weighing 73 pounds, 14 ounces Wednesday to win the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three Presented by Bass Cat Boats at the Harris Chain of Lakes
in Leesburg, Florida, and earn the top prize of $100,000.
- Link to Photo of Stage Three Winner Ott DeFoe
- Link to Photo Gallery of Best Shots from Championship Day
- Link to Video of DeFoe’s Fish Catch Highlights from Day 6
“This is surreal right now. After the way this week started, this doesn’t even make sense,” said DeFoe, who earned his third career victory on the Bass Pro Tour â€“ second this season. “I give God all of the glory and credit for this win. My decision-making process took me to Lake Griffin the first day, but I had a terrible first day and had to completely change strategies.
“On Day 2, I stayed here on Harris and pulled up to start on a grass point that had a dock nearby that I could almost cast to. It was divine intervention that told me to start there â€“ I ended up catching almost 40 pounds off of that dock. I truly give God all of the credit for that. Sometimes he closes a window to open a door, and that’s what happened for me that day.”
DeFoe ended up staying in that general area on the south end of Lake Harris, targeting grass and docks for the remainder of the event.
“The area was really good, and you could work it in a lot of different places,” DeFoe said. “The big thing for me was not cranking my motor. Once I went into that stretch, I just put a bait in the water and I fished in and I fished out and really maximized my time. I ended up having two things going â€“ a really, really shallow deal and a deal on the outside edges of the Kissimmee grass.”
DeFoe said he caught a number of scorable bass on a swimjig this week, but that his key bait was his signature series Rapala OG Slim Crankbait.
“It is so cool to win on a bait that I designed. I really thought it would happen at Lake Eufaula this year, but it ended up working well here and that is just a really cool deal for me,” DeFoe said. “The problem was that I was fishing a new color that’s coming out at ICAST and I only own six of them â€“ and three are back at the house. I threw a couple of different colors this week â€“ bream, hot copper green shad and regular copper green shad. The swimjig was a big deal and I caught a lot of fish on that, too, but that Slim was special â€“ especially this afternoon.”
Going into the third and final period of competition Wednesday, DeFoe had a very slim lead, with Bobby Lane, Brent Chapman, Andy Montgomery, and Skeet Reese
all looming and very much in contention. DeFoe mentioned to his cameraman that whoever caught the most fish in Period 3 would earn the victory. DeFoe then caught fire, catching 15 bass weighing 41 pounds, 6 ounces in the third period alone to run away from the pack.
“That third period was going to have to be my best period of the whole day, and I’m just so thankful that it was,” DeFoe went on to say. “That was a crazy end to this whole deal. This doesn’t happen often, so I am cherishing this moment.”
DeFoe earned the win by 27 pounds, 1 ounce â€“ a new Bass Pro Tour record for largest margin of victory.
Finishing in second place for the second-consecutive event, after his runner-up finish to Jacob Wheeler at the Bass Pro Tour Stage Two at Lake Travis, was local favorite Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Florida, who remains firmly in control of the 2021 Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year race.
“Bridesmaid again, second place,” Lane said in his post-game interview. “I got to spend all week in Harris and Little Harris just flipping grass, and it was so much fun. But Ott DeFoe just ran away with this one. It was an awesome ending for me. I caught a 2-pounder and a 4-pounder with literally 2 ½ minutes left to jump from fourth to second. I caught them all week on a Berkley Powerbait Power Hawg and a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent General . I kept everything simple â€“ black and blue, with a ½-ounce Bass Addiction screw in weight with a Berkley Fusion 4/0 hook.”
The top 10 pros at the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three on the Harris Chain of Lakes finished:
- Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 30 bass, 73-14, $100,000
- Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 22 bass, 46-13, $45,000
- Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., 21 bass, 45-7, $38,000
- Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 17 bass, 41-10, $32,000
- Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 14 bass, 37-15, $30,000
- Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 14 bass, 32-10, $26,000
- Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 12 bass, 28-14, $23,000
- Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., eight bass, 27-14, $21,000
- Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 12 bass, 26-10, $19,000
- Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., nine bass, 21-0, $16,000
Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 159 bass weighing 382 pounds, 11 ounces caught by the final 10 pros on Wednesday.
Hite won Wednesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing a 6-pound, 6-ounce largemouth that came on his EverGreen Grass Ripper swimjig in Period 2. General Tire pro Britt Myers of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, won the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the largest bass of the event with his 9 ½-pound largemouth that he weighed in on Day 1 of competition.