UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Defoe dominates Santee Cooper

Ott Defoe celebrates his first Stren Series win with his little girl, Abbie.

MANNING, S.C. - If you are looking for a model example of what it takes to break into the big leagues of bass fishing these days, look no further than 22-year-old Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn.

Defoe began fishing the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League (BFL) in 2002, moved to the Stren Series level in 2004, then climbed to the Wal-Mart FLW Series in 2006 and debuted on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour in 2007.

Through it all, Defoe has demonstrated the poise, intensity and focus it takes to succeed in professional bass fishing.

Though he has scored one top-10 in FLW Tour competition, most of his success has come at the Stren Series level, where he has amassed four top-10s, including two second-place finishes.

This week, the time was right for Defoe to etch his first win into his resume, and he did it at Santee Cooper by leading all four days of the Stren Series competition and finishing the event with a four-day total of 93 pounds, 14 ounces.

Judging from his winning margin - 9 pounds, 6 ounces - Defoe's winning week may have looked like a cake walk, but it was far from it.

On day three, Defoe stumbled just a tad, weighing in 19-8. And while 19-8 might not sound like a stumble, when you are leading a tournament on Santee Cooper where 30 pounds could be around the next corner, 19-8 is a bit off the pace.

Add to that the fact that four of Defoe's closest competitors all weighed in over 23 pounds on day three. At the start of day four this morning, Defoe became the rabbit that all of the foxes were chasing, and they thought they could smell blood in Defoe's youth.

Defoe, however, remained unfrazzled and sent his competition scurrying for their foxholes today when he returned fire with day four's biggest limit - 24-2 - to prove that he has what it takes to win.

"This means so much; it's the boost I've been looking for in my career," he said after collecting $25,000 for his win. "I've finished second twice in these Strens, and all I knew when I left that dock this morning was that I was not going to settle for second again today. I knew from yesterday's catches that those guys behind me, like Greg Pugh, were catching them on their terms. And that worried me - of course it worried me - but I had to block that out and stay focused on what I was doing."

While his catch today was certainly impressive, Defoe points to day three as the turning point that allowed him to win.Ott Defoe beat back his competition with 24-2 made up of bass like this.

"I had about 20 pounds yesterday, and I know that looks like I slipped up a bit, but it could have been a whole lot worse than that," he explained. "My primary tree pattern had only produced about 11 pounds by noon, and I made a huge gamble in running about another 30 minutes south of the weigh-in that late in the day to some bedding fish.

"As it turns out, I ended up culling up four or five times on those bedding fish. I really think if I had stayed in those trees on day three, I would have died in there with like 10 or 11 pounds and really left the door open. So even though it looks like I stumbled on day three, that is when I really made the best decision of the whole week to keep myself from wiping out completely."

Defoe returned to his primary area this morning, located in Lake Moultrie between Black's and S&S, and continued to fish his key bait: a 7-inch Berkley Shaky Worm (green-pumpkin), rigged wacky style on a 1/0 Gamakatsu weedless widegap hook and tied to 8-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon line on a spinning outfit.

"When you look at the weight I caught on that Berkley Fluorocarbon this week around those big cypress trees - if that's not a testament to some good line, then I don't know what is," Defoe added.

As he mentioned, Defoe did catch a few key bass while sight-fishing during the week, and those came on a Berkley Chigger Craw tied to Berkley 17-pound-test fluorocarbon line rigged with a ¼-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight.

"The whole key to the tree pattern was staying way off those trees and skipping the worm to them," Defoe revealed. "The fish in that clear water around those cypresses are superspooky. I think if you get a boat within 20 yards of them, they spook away or hunker down, but they just will not bite. Nearly every big fish I caught this week came from a long skip cast right up alongside a tree."

Pugh second

Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., continued his sight-fishing ways in Lake Moultrie on day four to catch 20 pounds, 5 ounces and finish second with a four-day total of 84-8.Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., continued his sight-fishing ways in Lake Moultrie today to catch 20 pounds, 5 ounces and finish second with a four-day total of 84-8 worth $7,677 plus a $5,000 Ranger bonus.

Pugh's two main sight-fishing weapons this week included a Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait and a PJ's 5/16-ounce jig.

"If they didn't like my jig on the first couple of pitches, I'd use the Hollow Belly to agitate them a little bit," Pugh said. "Once they got good and mad at that swimbait, then they'd go for the jig."

Over the last few years, Pugh has proven himself to be one of the best sight-fishermen in FLW Outdoors competition, leading to the question of what makes him so good at the technique.

"I had a lot of good teachers," Pugh revealed. "In the 1990s I spent a lot of time with the Hibdons, Fish Fishburne and Shaw Grigsby. They each taught me a lot about the technique, and since then I've refined it with a lot of my own experience and preferences."

Mitchell third

Brett Mitchell of Timmonsville, S.C., finished third by bringing in an 18-13 limit today, whichBrett Mitchell of Timmonsville, S.C., finished third by bringing in an 18-13 limit on day four, which pushed his four-day total to 81-13 worth $6,909. pushed his four-day total to 81-13 worth $6,909.

Mitchell spent most of the week on Lake Moultrie casting a Fish Stalker Trick Stick (June bug) wacky style on a 3/0 Gamakatsu circle hook tied to 40-pound braid.

"I could see plenty of beds in my best area, but instead of getting right up and sight-fishing for them, I found it easier to stay way back and make long casts to the beds, grass and pads," Mitchell said. "It seemed like they bit quicker if they never knew you were there."

Costas fourth

Lex Costas of Daniel Sound, S.C., weighed in 23-7 today and finished fourth with a four-day total of 79-0 worth $6,142.Lex Costas of Daniel Sound, S.C., weighed in 23-7 today and finished fourth with a four-day total of 79-0 worth $6,142.

Costas spent most of his week in Lake Moultrie, casting Zoom Trick Worms and Dead Ringers to stumps and grass.

"I was fishing a grass I call onion grass," Costas said. "I don't know what it's really called, but it looks like onions coming up, and it all grew up when the lake was down. Now it's flooded and the fish have moved in it to bed."

Ellis fifth

Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., finished fifth with a four-day total of 74-3 worth $5,374.Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., finished fifth with a four-day total of 74-3 worth $5,374.

Ellis used his signature technique all week: wacky-rigged Senkos and worms, cast along deeper cypress trees for his catches.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series event on Santee Cooper:

6th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., four-day total of 73-5, $4,606
7th: Timothy Little of Acworth, Ga., four-day total of 69-11, $4224
8th: Dale Evans of Ridgeville, S.C., four-day total of 67-8, $3,839
9th: Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., four-day total of $3,455
10th: Hal Cercopely of Alcolu, S.C., four-day total of $3,072

Coming up

The fourth and final Stren Series event in the South Division will be held June 4-7 at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2008-04-16-santee-cooper 

/news/2016-07-28-early-reports-from-wheeler

Early Reports from Wheeler

Starting this Sunday, the 50 Forrest Wood Cup competitors will hit Wheeler Lake bright and early for the first of three days of official practice. It’ll be the first time the anglers have been allowed on the Tennessee River reservoir since the pre-practice cut off date of July 17. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-celebs-seminars-on-deck-for-the-cup

Celebs, Seminars on Deck for the Cup

The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 4-7 will be crawling with some of the best bass anglers in the industry – both active pros and bassin’ legends. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to personally wish their favorite anglers good luck before takeoff, snag a picture and an autograph from an industry superstar, or sit in on a seminar. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bass-and-bbq-festival-set-for-forrest-wood-cup-expo

Bass and BBQ Festival set for Forrest Wood Cup Expo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – FLW is adding some Alabama flavor to the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with its Bass & BBQ Festival as part of the FLW Expo outside the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, August 6 and 7. The BBQ Festival, presented by WQRV 100.3 The River, will feature four award-winning BBQ teams offering delicious fare to visitors at the Forrest Wood Cup. A portion of all... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-27-bk-s-year-as-the-champ

BK’s Year as the Champ

Brad Knight plans on getting a good night’s sleep before this year’s Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake begins on Aug. 4. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there have been times during the past 12 months when dozing off wasn’t so easy for the defending Cup champion. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-1000-islands

Top 10 Patterns from the 1000 Islands

High wind and fluctuating water temperatures made things a little difficult for the anglers, but the top-10 pros adapted and utilized the whole playing field to exploit everything from deep smallmouth to shallow largemouth. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-for-win-at-flw-bass-fishing-league-great-lakes-division-event-on-mississippi-river-presented-by-navionics

McCartney, O’Keefe Tie For Win at FLW Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Event on Mississippi River Presented By Navionics

LA CROSSE, Wis. (July 25, 2016) – Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-mccartney-o-keefe-tie-on-the-mighty-miss

McCartney, O'Keefe tie on the Mighty Miss

Mark McCartney of Davis Junction, Illinois, and Nick O’Keefe of La Crosse, Wisconsin, each weighed three bass totaling 11 pounds even, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament of 2016 on the Mississippi River presented by Navionics. For his win, McCartney earned $5,540 after bonuses, and O’Keefe took home $3,540. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-country-music-superstar-dustin-lynch-to-perform-free-concert-in-huntsville-presented-by-wdrm-102-1

Country Music Superstar Dustin Lynch to perform Free Concert In Huntsville presented by WDRM 102.1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Country music superstar Dustin Lynch will perform a free concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at the Propst Arena in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Sunday, August 7, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the final weigh-in of the world championship of professional bass fishing, the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The concert is presented by WDRM... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-canterbury-s-next-challenge-

Canterbury’s Next Challenge

At the time of writing, Canterbury had been picked by every pundit and 50 percent of players overall, which is a decent bump over Morgan at 47 percent. The dollars attached obviously make a difference, but there’s no doubt that everyone expects great things. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-jay-kendrick-the-rookie-

Jay Kendrick – The “Rookie”

A rookie by designation if not by experience, Forrest Wood Cup contender Jay Kendrick finished 34th in the standings in his first year on the Walmart FLW Tour to clinch a spot in the championship. What makes it even more fortuitous for him is that because the Cup is taking place on Wheeler Lake, he’ll be able to stay at his own house for the event, which is just about 30 minutes from takeoff at Ditto Landing. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-25-fan-freebies-and-contests-at-the-cup

Fan Freebies and Contests at the Cup

One pro angler is going to win $300,000 at the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Ala. That’s good for him. For fans, the chance to win is pretty good too. FLW and its partners and sponsors have lined up a sweet selection of giveaway prizes for the Cup and the accompanying FLW Expo, ranging from a tricked-out bass boat to a fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-lake-ontario-out-for-day-2

Lake Ontario Out for Day 2

It is never good when you wake up the morning of a tournament and every flag you see is standing straight out at 3 a.m., but that was the case this morning for day two of the Costa FLW Series event on the 1000 Islands. READ MORE »