Ott DeFoe Crushes 31-3, Leads Day One of 2017 Elite Series Okeechobee

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2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Okeechobee Day One Leader Ott DeFoe – photo by Seigo Saito – Bassmaster

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Florida’s famous big-bass factory showed off during the first day of the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, as Tennessee native Ott DeFoe caught a huge five-bass limit that weighed 31 pounds, 3 ounces.

DeFoe’s impressive catch put him more than 4 pounds ahead of Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., who is currently in second place after weighing 26-13.

Anchoring his limit with two giant bass that weighed 8-6 each, the 31-year-old DeFoe knew he had located quality fish during practice on the lake, but he didn’t realize just how good they were.

“I had a lot of bites during practice, but I wasn’t catching very many fish over 2 1/2 to 3 pounds,” DeFoe said. “But, a few of those fish were in one area that seemed to have all the right ingredients to justify a return trip once the tournament began.”

DeFoe caught one of his big bass at his first stop early in the day, but decided to move after only having a few other bites.

“I stayed on that spot until after 9 a.m., and it was after 10 when I caught my next one,” said DeFoe, a six-time qualifier for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. “At that point, the rest of my limit was small, but I was happy to have them because I had the one big fish.”

He managed to upgrade into the early afternoon on one spot that was also consistent for him during practice. DeFoe also said his pattern developed as the day went on, and he’s confident Friday will produce similar results.

“Today was a special day,” he said. “But it’s Okeechobee, 30-pound-plus limits can happen every day on this lake, and if I play my cards right tomorrow I believe I can hang onto the lead.”

While on stage with emcee Dave Mercer, DeFoe compared his twin 8-pound, 6-ounce bass to his twin children.

“When my twins were born, they both weighed several pounds less than those two big bass today,” he said with a laugh.

Weighing five-bass limits that exceed the 25 or 30 pounds is a rarity in this sport, and Browning agrees with DeFoe that today was indeed special.

“I don’t know if the quality of fish I caught today will still be available tomorrow, but it was sure a lot of fun,” Browning said. “I didn’t have a very good practice, so today I just went fishing and learned a lot. I really want to believe that I can catch another 25 pounds of fish tomorrow, but I won’t know if the pattern will hold until things get started in the morning.”

Many anglers commented on how water temperatures had dropped several degrees in recent days, and while cold fronts typically cause Florida-strain largemouth bass to become sluggish, the cold front that brought significant rain Wednesday afternoon seemed to have invigorated Okeechobee’s bass population.

“I’m going to hunker down and give it my best shot tomorrow — that’s all you can do when you’re learning as you go,” Browning said. “I’m sharing water with several other boats, and the improving weather should improve the bite. I’m doing something a little bit different, and I bet the pattern holds for another couple of days.”

Confidence is a key component to successful tournament angling, and like Browning, Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., who weighed 25-15 for third, was surprised by his Day 1 weight.

“At this point, I just can’t be sure tomorrow will be as productive as today,” Horton said. “I got off to a great start, but the fishing was pretty slow as the day went on. I got the right bites, but not that many of them. To have a shot in a tournament on a lake like Okeechobee, you’ve got to have at least one day in the 25-pound range.”

Like DeFoe and Browning, Horton knows what Lake Okeechobee is capable of. Horton has an impressive history on Okeechobee, including a couple of Top 10s and a win.

“If I’m not going to be catching a lot of fish and hope to have a shot at the title, it’s critical that I’m effective and execute on each opportunity,” he said.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Brett Hite (23-3), Bobby Lane (21-15), Cliff Prince (21-11), Paul Mueller (21-9), Andy Montgomery (20-13), Skylar Hamilton (20-3) and Greg Hackney (20-2).

The frontrunner for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award is Tyler Carriere of Youngsville, La., with a 9-pound, 5-ounce largemouth.

Competition will resume Friday with takeoff at 6:45 a.m. at C. Scott Driver Park, and weigh-in will begin at 3:15 p.m. in the same location.

The event is hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism.

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Yamaha, Berkley, Huk, Shell Rotella, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Livingston Lures, T-H Marine, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, Shimano, Academy Sports + Outdoors

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. 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, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

2017 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee 2/23-2/26
Lake Okeechobee, Okeechobee,  FL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN            5  31-03  110
Day 1: 5   31-03
2.  Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR          5  26-13  109
Day 1: 5   26-13
3.  Tim Horton             Muscle Shoals, AL        5  25-15  108
Day 1: 5   25-15
4.  Brett Hite             Phoenix, AZ              5  23-03  107
Day 1: 5   23-03
5.  Bobby Lane Jr.         Lakeland, FL             5  21-15  106
Day 1: 5   21-15
6.  Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              5  21-11  105
Day 1: 5   21-11
7.  Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            5  21-09  104
Day 1: 5   21-09
8.  Andy Montgomery        Blacksburg, SC           5  20-13  103
Day 1: 5   20-13
9.  Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN            5  20-03  102
Day 1: 5   20-03
10. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  20-02  101
Day 1: 5   20-02
11. Brandon Card           Knoxville, TN            5  19-10  100
Day 1: 5   19-10
12. Brent Ehrler           Newport Beach, CA        5  19-09   99
Day 1: 5   19-09
12. Chad Pipkens           Lansing, MI              5  19-09   99
Day 1: 5   19-09
14. Jeff Kriet             Ardmore, OK              5  19-08   97
Day 1: 5   19-08
15. Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR            5  19-00   96
Day 1: 5   19-00
16. Dustin Connell         Clanton, AL              5  18-08   95
Day 1: 5   18-08
17. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  18-07   94
Day 1: 5   18-07
18. Randall Tharp          Port St. Joe, FL         5  18-03   93
Day 1: 5   18-03
19. Randy Howell           Guntersville, AL         5  17-15   92
Day 1: 5   17-15
19. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            5  17-15   92
Day 1: 5   17-15
21. Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ     5  17-13   90
Day 1: 5   17-13
22. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  17-11   89
Day 1: 5   17-11
23. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              5  17-09   88
Day 1: 5   17-09
24. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  17-03   87
Day 1: 5   17-03
24. Mike McClelland        Bella Vista, AR          5  17-03   87
Day 1: 5   17-03
26. Jordan Lee             Grant, AL                5  17-02   85
Day 1: 5   17-02
26. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS                5  17-02   85
Day 1: 5   17-02
28. Fletcher Shryock       New Philadelphia, OH     5  17-00   83
Day 1: 5   17-00
29. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS         5  16-14   82
Day 1: 5   16-14
29. Matt Lee               Guntersville, AL         5  16-14   82
Day 1: 5   16-14
31. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO         5  16-11   80
Day 1: 5   16-11
32. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ              5  16-10   79
Day 1: 5   16-10
33. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            5  16-06   78
Day 1: 5   16-06
34. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                5  16-04   77
Day 1: 5   16-04
35. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         5  16-03   76
Day 1: 5   16-03
36. Keith Poche            Pike Road, AL            5  16-00   75
Day 1: 5   16-00
37. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  15-15   74
Day 1: 5   15-15
38. Chad Grigsby           Maple Grove, MN          5  15-12   73
Day 1: 5   15-12
39. Mark Daniels Jr.       Tuskegee, AL             5  15-11   72
Day 1: 5   15-11
40. James Elam             Tulsa, OK                5  15-10   71
Day 1: 5   15-10
41. Tyler Carriere         Youngsville, LA          5  15-03   70
Day 1: 5   15-03
42. Adrian Avena           Vineland, NJ             5  15-02   69
Day 1: 5   15-02
43. David Walker           Sevierville, TN          5  14-15   68
Day 1: 5   14-15
44. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  14-11   67
Day 1: 5   14-11
45. Casey Ashley           Donalds, SC              5  14-08   66
Day 1: 5   14-08
46. John Murray            Spring City, TN          5  14-07   65
Day 1: 5   14-07
47. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS         5  14-04   64
Day 1: 5   14-04
47. Gerald Spohrer         Gonzales, LA             5  14-04   64
Day 1: 5   14-04
49. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           5  13-13   62
Day 1: 5   13-13
50. Brandon Coulter        Knoxville, TN            5  13-10   61
Day 1: 5   13-10
50. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  13-10   61
Day 1: 5   13-10
52. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  13-08   59
Day 1: 5   13-08
52. Koby Kreiger           Bokeelia, FL             5  13-08   59
Day 1: 5   13-08
54. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR               5  13-04   57
Day 1: 5   13-04
55. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  12-15   56
Day 1: 5   12-15
56. Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL            5  12-13   55
Day 1: 5   12-13
56. Jonathon VanDam        Kalamazoo, MI            5  12-13   55
Day 1: 5   12-13
58. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              5  12-10   53
Day 1: 5   12-10
59. Gary Klein             Weatherford, TX          5  12-07   52
Day 1: 5   12-07
60. Ish Monroe             Hughson, CA              5  12-06   51
Day 1: 5   12-06
61. David Williams         Newton, NC               5  12-03   50
Day 1: 5   12-03
62. Alton Jones Jr.        Lorena, TX               5  12-01   49
Day 1: 5   12-01
63. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA               5  11-13   48
Day 1: 5   11-13
64. Justin Lucas           Guntersville, AL         5  11-12   47
Day 1: 5   11-12
64. Britt Myers            Lake Wylie, SC           5  11-12   47
Day 1: 5   11-12
66. Shane Lineberger       Lincolnton, NC           5  11-10   45
Day 1: 5   11-10
66. Jesse Wiggins          Cullman, AL              5  11-10   45
Day 1: 5   11-10
68. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              5  11-07   43
Day 1: 5   11-07
69. Brett Preuett          Monroe, LA               5  11-04   42
Day 1: 5   11-04
70. Scott Rook             Little Rock, AR          5  11-03   41
Day 1: 5   11-03
71. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK               5  11-02   40
Day 1: 5   11-02
72. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL          5  11-00   39
Day 1: 5   11-00
73. Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               5  10-15   38
Day 1: 5   10-15
73. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  10-15   38
Day 1: 5   10-15
75. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ          5  10-14   36
Day 1: 5   10-14
75. Alton Jones            Lorena, TX               5  10-14   36
Day 1: 5   10-14
77. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           5  10-13   34
Day 1: 5   10-13
78. Jesse Tacoronte        Orlando, FL              5  10-12   33
Day 1: 5   10-12
79. Marty Robinson         Lyman, SC                5  10-11   32
Day 1: 5   10-11
80. James Niggemeyer       Van, TX                  5  10-10   31
Day 1: 5   10-10
81. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             5  10-05   30
Day 1: 5   10-05
81. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI            5  10-05   30
Day 1: 5   10-05
83. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL         5  10-03   28
Day 1: 5   10-03
83. Chris Zaldain          Laughlin, NV             5  10-03   28
Day 1: 5   10-03
85. Kelly Jordon           Flint, TX                5  09-11   26
Day 1: 5   09-11
86. Fred Roumbanis         London, AR               5  09-10   25
Day 1: 5   09-10
87. Cliff Crochet          Pierre Part, LA          5  09-09   24
Day 1: 5   09-09
87. Russ Lane              Prattville, AL           5  09-09   24
Day 1: 5   09-09
89. Luke Clausen           Otis Orchards, WA        5  09-08   22
Day 1: 5   09-08
90. Terry Scroggins        San Mateo, FL            5  09-05   21
Day 1: 5   09-05
90. Morizo Shimizu         Suita, Osaka JAPAN       5  09-05   21
Day 1: 5   09-05
92. Jacob Powroznik        Port Haywood, VA         5  09-02   19
Day 1: 5   09-02
92. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            5  09-02   19
Day 1: 5   09-02
94. Boyd Duckett           Guntersville, AL         5  08-12   17
Day 1: 5   08-12
95. Shaw Grigsby Jr.       Gainesville, FL          5  08-10   16
Day 1: 5   08-10
96. Brandon Palaniuk       Hayden, ID               5  08-04   15
Day 1: 5   08-04
97. Seth Feider            Bloomington, MN          5  07-15   14
Day 1: 5   07-15
98. Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK              5  07-14   13
Day 1: 5   07-14
98. Jared Lintner          Arroyo Grande, CA        5  07-14   13
Day 1: 5   07-14
100. Dave Lefebre           Erie, PA                 5  07-07   11
Day 1: 5   07-07
101. Paul Elias             Laurel, MS               5  07-02   10
Day 1: 5   07-02
102. Jacob Wheeler          Indianapolis, IN         5  07-00    9
Day 1: 5   07-00
103. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO         5  06-05    8
Day 1: 5   06-05
104. Robbie Latuso          Gonzales, LA             3  06-05    7
Day 1: 3   06-05
105. Takahiro Omori         Emory, TX                3  05-12    6
Day 1: 3   05-12
106. John Hunter Jr         Shelbyville, KY          3  05-07    5
Day 1: 3   05-07
107. Darrell Ocamica        New Plymouth, ID         3  05-02    4
Day 1: 3   05-02
108. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL             3  04-06    3
Day 1: 3   04-06
109. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  2  03-14    2
Day 1: 2   03-14
110. Jay Brainard           Enid, OK                 2  02-15    1
Day 1: 2   02-15
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1       103       534      1492-01
———————————-
103       534      1492-01