UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

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: headline-story  rob-newell 

/news/2015-08-29-matual-masters-erie

Matual Masters Erie

David Matual of Chicago, Ill., leaned on his spot hard and sacked up the biggest bag of day three weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. For his final-day rally he claimed the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division victory on Lake Erie with a three-day total of 65 pounds, fending off Jared Rhode by a mere 7 ounces. Drop-shotting over shallow reefs delivered all of Matual’s fish and earned him a check worth more than $31,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-29-lake-erie-day-3-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 3 Midday Update

Lake Erie put on a different face for day three of the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event. After a rough day one, yesterday’s calm and mostly sunny conditions offered comfortable running and fishing conditions. Today was still a far cry from the brutal waves of day one - and prior practice days - but windier conditions and overcast skies seemed to present a more challenging scenario. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Erie Day 2

Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre and Ohio pro Jared Rhode tied for the day-two lead in Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division action on Lake Erie with 43 pounds, 9 ounces. Both pros caught their fish on drop-shots. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lefebre-rhode-tied-at-the-top

Lefebre, Rhode Tied at the Top

Notching his second day of 20-plus pounds, FLW Tour pro Dave Lefebre tallied 43 pounds, 9 ounces and tied day-one leader Jared Rhode for the day-two top spot at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Lefebre caught his 22-3 limit on Rapala DT-10 crankbaits, while Rhodes tempted his 19-15 catch with drop-shots. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-28-lake-erie-day-2-midday-update

Lake Erie Day 2 Midday Update

With winds shifting from yesterday’s northerly blow to a warmer southerly direction, day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie brought calmer conditions with greater ability to methodically work key spots. Offshore, waves ran 1 to 2 feet, with leeward areas behind the Lake Erie Islands nearly flat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-lake-erie-day-1-midday-report

Lake Erie Day 1 Midday Report

Winds have subsided considerably since practice, but Lake Erie’s still showing her temperamental side to Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division anglers fishing the last divisional event out of Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-25-top-10-patterns-from-the-forrest-wood-cup

Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-knight-slays-ouachita

Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-23-forrest-wood-cup-day-4-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-wheeler-back-in-front

Wheeler Back in Front

Jacob Wheeler loves Lake Ouachita. It’s where he fished his first Forrest Wood Cup in 2011, and it’s where he’ll take the tournament lead into the final day of competition at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Wheeler, the 2011 Cup champion, led this tournament on day one and slipped a couple spots on day two. He now has a very slim 12-ounce lead over Tennessean Brad Knight. The anglers will square off tomorrow on Ouachita starting at 7 a.m. against the rest of the top 10 pros for the top prize of $500,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 3

Jacob Wheeler may have regained his lead in the Forrest Wood Cup on day three, but Brad Knight is right on his heels. Going into the final day, the two pros are separated by just 12 ounces. The margin is tight, and what’s going to make the final day fun to watch is the difference in the two anglers’ strategies. Wheeler is running a topwater pattern on the main lake, and fishing new water is part of his plan. Knight, however, has caught almost all of his weight from one 250-yard stretch of bass-rich creek channel. He literally knows every target he is fishing by heart. On the surface, Knight’s area looks to be the better bet. But he has shared the general area with Brandon Cobb and Mark Daniels Jr. for three solid days. And the bad news, at least for Knight, is that both Cobb and Daniels will be sharing the water with him again on the final day as both made the top-10 cut. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-22-forrest-wood-cup-day-3-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-ramie-races-into-the-lead

Ramie Races into the Lead

On the back of a 17-pound, 14-ounce limit, which is the biggest of the tournament thus far, Ramie Colson Jr. jumped from seventh place to take over the lead at the halfway point of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. Colson’s two-day total is 31 pounds, 1 ounce, which puts him almost 3 pounds ahead of Tennessee’s Brad Knight. The Forrest Wood Cup, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, moves into its top-20 round on Saturday. The top 10 pros after Saturday’s weigh-in advance to Sunday’s final round for a shot at the $500,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

At times, bass fishing can be a lot like real estate, where the three most important rules are location, location and location. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita presented by Walmart is starting to become a bit of a real estate game where location is the primary consideration in who climbs the leaderboard. And those mining the backs of creeks and tributaries are on the prime pieces of real estate. Consider that after day two, four of the top five pros are concentrating their fishing efforts in the back ends of creeks or rivers. All of these areas fit a classic late-summer, early-fall pattern where shad pack into the back of creek ditches that meander through shallow flats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-21-forrest-wood-cup-day-2-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-wheeler-hunting-history

Wheeler Hunting History

It’s never been done before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but Jacob Wheeler is in prime position to become the first two-time Forrest Wood Cup champion in history. Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., brought in a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit of Lake Ouachita bass on the first day of the Cup, which is presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-top-5-patterns-from-the-cup-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

After day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, several things have come to light. For one, this event is not likely to produce a runaway win for anyone like it did when Scott Martin won here in 2011. Second, when the pros said Ouachita was going to be stingy, they meant it – only 29 of the 50 pros checked in limits today. Third, firm patterns are hard to come by on Lake Ouachita in August. Jacob Wheeler took the lead on day one in the event that’s presented by Walmart and hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. With the help of a 5-pound bass, Wheeler weighed in a limit of 16 pounds, 2 ounces, but he had to sample a lot of different areas for his catch. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup-day-1-coverage

Forrest Wood Cup Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »