A 9 YEAR-OLD WATCHING BASSMASTER
His given name is Arthur, but his fans know him as Ott. He was 2011 Elite Series ROY, has challenged hard for Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour AOY, and is host of The Hunt for Monster Bass. The crown jewel of his career is being 2019 Bassmaster Classic Champion. His pro career spans 17 years, includes 9 wins and earnings of $2.7 Million. His most recent win was last year’s Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Palestine TX. To understand how he got to being ranked #4 in professional fishing, we need to turn back the clock.
Arthur DeFoe was born in 1985 in Knoxville, TN. He traces his love for fishing to watching “The Bassmasters” on TNN. This encouraged him to pester his dad to take him fishing, and that happened in spades when the family took a vacation trip to Okeechobee FL. The die was cast after that and he soon accompanied his dad to see a Bassmaster Classic weigh-in. Of course, that just fanned passion’s fire and Ott soon fished his first tournament that fall with his dad. They didn’t catch a single fish, but that began a run of over 50 tournaments. Even though they did not have a lot of success, it did not stop him from continuing to try. It took over two years of fishing local tournaments before the father/son team got their first check. When Ott turned 12, he joined the East Tennessee Bass Anglers club. It was there that he learned a lot of the skills he possesses today. He fished his way up the FLW Tour and qualified for several FLW Cups. Nobody was surprised that he leveraged all his experience and made a decision to become a professional angler. It was a definite improvement over working as a dock worker and truck driver.
Once he started fishing as a pro he began getting noticed. He scored a 6th on Lake Travis in 2007 and some top 20’s in 2009. He made a splash in the Elites in 2011 by winning Rookie of the Year. In 2012, he finished second in Angler of the Year points and in the Bassmaster All Stars Championship. Ott qualified for the first of 8 Bassmaster Classics in 2012 and placed fifth. He was proving himself to be a consistent contender on the trail. A solid 3rd place on the St Lawrence in 2013 proved to himself that he could fish a dropshot, place on Northern fisheries, and that he was completing the process of becoming a fully rounded angler. He cemented that circle when he scored his first blue trophy on the Mississippi in 2016.
When it was announced that the 2019 Classic would be held on his home Tennessee River in greater Knoxville, the Blaine TN resident knew this was his opportunity to raise his fishing game to a whole new level. DeFoe was considered a favorite at the outset due to his experience on those waters. The competition was schedule to take place on Fort Loudon and Tellico impoundments on the Tennessee and it was expected that the weigh-ins, scheduled for the Thompson-Boling Arena, would draw the biggest crowds in the tournament's then 49-year history. The hometown favorite looked comfortable on "First day Friday" as he bagged five weighing 20 pounds, including the biggest of the day, a 6-pound largemouth.
On Day 2, he fell behind Chattanooga-area's Jacob Wheeler- a man who has since become his nemesis tournament after tournament. On that Saturday, Ott recorded 10- 5 to Wheeler's 17-11. "I was so mad," an emotional DeFoe said later. "After that first day, I was on top of the world. But God will humble you sometimes, exactly when you need it." On the final day of the competition, the tables turned, and it was DeFoe with a haul weighing 18-14, and Wheeler with only 12-15. After Day 2, Ott said he was mad, kicking rocks. He and Wheeler are “buddies and stuff”, and he
had caught some decent fish, just not enough. But after that day, Ott knew what he had to do on Day 3. He set up on a spot he knew held some good fish, and the rest is history. After being announced the winner, Ott stood in front of the crowd, wiping away tears. He said he knew he wanted to be a pro fisherman after watching the Classic as a child. He will forever be the 2019 Bassmaster Classic Champion with a total weight of 49 -3.
Ott lives in Blaine with his wife, Jennie, daughter, Abbie and twins Parker and Elizabeth. Ott has recovered well from a health scare and today, when not on the road, he is active at Lyons Creek Baptist Church and fishes the local lakes and rivers. He is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, Nitro Boats, Mercury, Humminbird, Mossy Oak, Minn Kota/Talon, General Tire, Costa, Huk, T-H Marine, Lithium Pros, and Rapala Terminator, VMC.