Ott DeFoe Holds On As Third-Round Leader In Bassmaster Elite On The Mississippi River
LA CROSSE, Wis. —

Ott DeFoe widened his lead in the Plano Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River presented by Favorite Fishing today, if ever so slightly.


DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., weighed in 16 pounds, 7 ounces in the third round of the four-day Elite Series tournament for a total of 51 pounds, 9 ounces. That’s 2 1/2 pounds ahead of second-year Elite pro Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minn., who has 48-15. DeFoe had a 1-14 lead Friday.

That doesn’t sound like much of a margin, but in a fishery where big bass of the day is usually under 5 pounds and only ounces separate many of the positions in the standings, it will take a stumble by DeFoe and a stellar day for Feider. In fact, most of the difference between the two can be accounted for by the 6-pound, 1-ounce largemouth — a giant in this fishery — DeFoe caught at the end of the day Friday.

DeFoe only has two hot spots paying off with good-size bass, but they have been consistently reliable. Alternating between them, which requires a 20-mile boat run one-way, he has checked in limits weighing 17-7, 17-11 and 16-7. He said he’s using a swimbait with a treble hook rigged on it in his “starting place,” which features heavy current, and he’s flipping in his midday hole.

Jordan Lee of Grant, Ala, another young angler making a name for himself in the Elites, fell from second to third after turning in a smaller limit today, 14-10, than he did in earlier rounds. He is fishing floating frogs almost exclusively.

If anyone can catch DeFoe, Feider has demonstrated that he can. He bagged the heaviest limit of the tournament on Friday, 19-5, which moved him from 39th to third in the standings that day. A veteran of tournament fishing on other sections of the Upper Mississippi, Feider has more than a dozen fishing holes to choose from as the final round of fishing begins.

He described them as sandbars that would be out of the water if the river weren’t so high. Current is washing over them, and he’s catching big smallmouth with a combination of lures, including a drop shot, Carolina rig and swim jig.

Interestingly, fourth through seventh places are held by former GEICO Bassmaster Classic champions. They are Alton Jones, fourth with 46-15; Takahiro Omori, fifth with 45-5; Skeet Reese, sixth with 44-4; and Casey Ashley, seventh with 43-9. In fact, seven of the final 12 anglers fishing Sunday are Classic winners; Mark Davis, Edwin Evers and Randy Howell also made it.

Jones said he can’t wait to go fishing Sunday morning because awaiting him is the finest fishing hole he has ever found in 26 years as a B.A.S.S. pro. He found the spot during an Elite tournament in 2013 and, although he never had a bite there, he thought then that it should pay off in some situation.

It paid off in spades this week. Today, for example, he caught more than 50 bass, including five weighing 16-8, and quit at 12:45 p.m. so he could be assured of making it through navigation locks on time.

Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., solidified his lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race by climbing into the Top 12. None of his closest competitors did so. With all but a dozen anglers eliminated from the competition, the field for the upcoming Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship next week on Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, has mostly been set. The Top 50 in season-long AOY points will be competing on Mille Lacs for $1 million, which is apportioned according to AOY points standings at the end of the championship.

The final round on the Mississippi begins with takeoff Sunday from Veterans Freedom Park at 6:15 a.m. CT. The weigh-in will be held back at the park at 3:15 p.m. The Bassmaster Elite Series Expo and festival activities begin at 11 a.m. at Freedom Park.