DANDRIDGE, Tenn — Consistency has put Ott DeFoe in position to win his first Bassmaster event on his home waters of Douglas Lake.
“Every big tournament we’ve had here I have done well, but I have yet to win one,” said DeFoe, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Knoxville, Tenn. “I have made the Top 12 in every one of them, so I want to close the dang deal one time.
“This lake is very hard to be consistent on. A couple of those 4 1/2-, 5- or 5 1/2-pound bites are what makes you have a 20- to 21-pound day. So, it is hard to be consistent here with all 4-pounders.”
After catching a 19-pound, 3-ounce limit Thursday, DeFoe backed up that catch with a 19-1 bag Friday to take over the lead in the pro division of the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open presented by Allstate. “Yesterday I said I was a little frustrated, although I was thankful for what I had. It was exactly the opposite today; I was so blessed,” said Defoe, who moved into the lead with 38-4.
The local pro has noticed the lake is fishing tougher than usual. “The deep bite is the way to win here, but that’s not the way it should be,” DeFoe said. “There should be a lot more fish out there, and there should be bigger bags caught. The lake is doing well, but it is not where it should be.”
Since he is so familiar with the lake, DeFoe spent only about 10 hours practicing for the Open. “I really didn’t fish that much,” he said. “I just kind of rode around and looked at stuff just wanting to see the conditions. “
Thursday he caught his fish early, but by 10 o’clock on Friday, he had a limit weighing about 11 pounds. DeFoe decided to try some spots he never touched the previous day, and the move paid off with his three biggest fish of the day.
Local angler Ricky Shepherd, of Mosheim, Tenn., moved into second place by catching the heaviest limit (20-10) of the day. “These fish have changed on the lake this week because of the traffic, and they have positioned themselves to where they are easier for me to catch,” said the 52-year-old Shepherd who has a two-day total weight of 35-14. The warehouse manager said he threw a swimbait yesterday but changed his strategy today and hit about 25 spots to catch his hefty limit.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the pro division are Todd Schmitz, Goshen, Ind., third, 35-3; Dewayne Wilson, La Follette, Tenn., fourth, 34-14; and Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., fifth, 34-9.
Fishing shallow helped Mandel Pettus of Sound Beach, N.Y., move into the lead in the co-angler division with a two-day total weight of 20-5. “I got to fish my strengths today,” said the 40-year-old Dick’s Sporting Goods employee. Pettus was paired with Day 1 leader Wilson, who had been catching fish deep on Thursday. The fishing pressure today caused Wilson and Pettus to move to the shallows where they caught three quality fish.
The Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award of $250 was presented to pro angler Pete Gluszek, of Mount Laurel, N.J., in honor of climbing the most positions in the standings from Day 1 to Day 2.
Edward Rogers Jr., of Sparta, Mich., earned the co-angler Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award of $150 for his jump in the standings on Day 2.
The Livingston Lures Leader award of $250 was presented to the pro angler in the lead on Day 2, DeFoe. The leader of the Day 2 co-angler side, Pettus, received a Livingston Lures gift pack valued at $250.
Hosting the Open — the first of three in the Northern Division —is the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. Saturday’s launch will be held at The Point Marina at 122 Boatdock Drive. The final weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops at 3629 Outdoor Sportsman’s Place in Kodak, Tenn., and will start at 3 p.m. ET.
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: Allstate
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Boat U.S., Booyah, Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Plano, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.