Video: Pro Angler Ott DeFoe Leaves His Boat for a Bass

If you were in a fishing tournament with a first-place prize of $100,000, would you dive under the water to retrieve a bass that’s snagged on a dock post?

Video: Pro Angler Ott DeFoe Leaves His Boat for a Bass

During the recent Major League Fishing tournament on Minnesota’s famed smallmouth factory Mille Lacs Lake, pro angler Ott DeFoe was using lightweight spinning gear to skip his lure under a boat dock. After hooking a bass, it became tangled on either a dock post or the adjacent pontoon shore station. Regardless, he couldn’t bring the fish to the boat, so he left the boat and went to the fish. Literally.

Under tournament rules, DeFoe could leave the boat without being disqualified, and if he landed the fish, then it would count toward his daily total weight. That said, DeFoe would incur a time penalty – similar to sitting in the penalty box during a hockey game. For his leaving-the-boat violation, DeFoe had to refrain from fishing for 4 minutes.

I won’t play the role of spoiler; you’ll have to watch the 3-minute Facebook video to see whether DeFoe is successful chasing down his bass. After watching the video, be sure to read my tournament recap below. (Viewing tip: Be sure to hit "click to enter fullscreen" to see all the action.)

FYI: Not surprisingly, hundreds of comments appear below the Facebook post regarding DeFoe’s actions in trying to retrieve his bass. A few people are supportive of his decision, but the vast majority say DeFoe was trespassing, disrespectful to the dock owner, etc. I’m a big fan of DeFoe — by all accounts, he’s a good guy — and his attempt to unsnag his line from the dock or shore station doesn’t change my opinion of him. He’s not going to damage the dock or shore station. And if I were the property owner, I’d rather have him attempt to free his lure than deliberately break it off and leave it snagged under the water. If you feel otherwise, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Tournament recap: DeFoe didn’t end up winning the event. That honor goes to Dustin Connell, who caught 20 bass for 82 pounds, 9 ounces, during the championship round on September 15 (10 anglers qualified for the final day). Connell edged out second-place finisher David Walker, who landed 23 bass for a total weight of 82 pounds, 5 ounces. Total weight (not total fish) determines the victory, so Connell won by only 4 ounces.

A bass must weigh at least 2 pounds to be scoreable, so Walker needed to catch one more scoreable fish to catch Connell, but he couldn’t get a bite during the event’s final few minutes. Walker won $45,000 for second place.

In the Major League Fishing format, anglers catch as many scoreable bass in 7.5 hours each day (three, 2.5-hour periods with two, 15-minute lines out scheduled breaks). Bass are immediately released after being weighed by a boat marshal. Each tournament spans a few days. The difference in Connell winning first vs. second was on average, his fish were bigger. Connell’s biggest five smallmouth bass during the championship round weighed 27 pounds, 12 ounces.


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