Tennessee bass pro Ott DeFoe only seems like he’s been a bass pro for decades because of his consistent success: he finished in the top 20 in over half of the B.A.S.S. tournaments he fished in eight years, and finished in the money an astounding 79 percent of the tournaments he has fished. DeFoe has more than 45 career Top 10s and over $2 million in career winnings. He is the winner of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour Stage Three and 2019 Bassmaster Classic.
1. Outdoor Life: How can I catch bigger bass from shore?
Ott DeFoe: Find out-of-the-way places that other bank fishermen won’t go to. Just like it is in boat fishing, you have to be willing to go the extra mile!
2. OL: What’s your approach to fishing a lake you’ve never fished previously?
OD: The short answer is to look at four things: season pattern, type of lake (natural, highland reservoir, river etc.), weather, and finally water levels. Take all these factors and go from there. GPS mapping is a huge part anymore and helps once on the water to develop a pattern of where bites come from.
3. OL: What’s your favorite/most versatile bait? What color?
OD: A jig: ½-ounce Terminator Pro Series jig in Bama Craw color with a Bass Pro Shops Elite Chunk green pumpkin/blue flake as a trailer.
4. OL: Do you often customize lures or do you use them right out of the package? What’s a typical customization?
OD: Yes! I carry Sharpies in the boat and make small to large adjustments on the water a lot—a chartreuse stripe, red throat, orange sides etc., and new treble hooks—I make lots of mods in my boat.
5. OL: How, when, and where do you most often fish lipless crankbaits?
OD: I used lipless crankbaits the most in prespawn. Typically, I use them in flatter areas where there isn’t a huge drop-off. I’ll also use them when in an area with a lot of wood cover.
6. OL: What’s your approach to fishing trees and submerged timber?
OD: A jig is my first thought to flip in trees and timber when the fish are holding tight to cover. Next would be a spinnerbait to trigger bites from around the cover if the fish are more aggressive.
7. OL: What’s the most underutilized bait in your box?
OD: A Ned Rig. It’s slow and I don’t like to fish slow like that, which is one of the reasons I enjoy fishing MLF-style so much cause it’s so fast-paced.
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8. OL: What’s your No. 1 cold-front fishing tactic?
OD: To fish a crankbait at a faster speed. This creates a reaction bite when slower things might not work. On an unseasonably cold day for March in Texas, the Rapala DT10 ended up being a major player in my Bass Pro Tour Stage Three win on Lake Athens. I caught 23 scorable bass for a total of 69 pounds, 12 ounces in the Championship Round, including a 9-6 in the last 32 minutes of regulation. It was a good day.
9. OL: What’s your favorite topwater bait?
OD: Storm Cover Pop. It’s a bigger bait and catches big fish!
10. OL: How do I find deep fish during the dog days of summer?
OD: Use your electronics! Finding the fish is the biggest part. My Humminbirds are very good and if fish are there, I’ll know it. And if they aren’t, I’ll know not to waste my time.