KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville native Ott DeFoe won the 2019 Bassmaster Classic with a total weigh in of 49 pounds and 3 ounces between 15 fish.
On Friday, DeFoe took the Day 1 lead in the Classic after he caught eight keeper bass, with his best five weighing in at 20 lbs.
“I got five good bites all day, and I landed them,” said DeFoe. “Honestly, it felt like a very tough day.”
DeFoe focused on a big-fish strategy, hooking a 6-pound bass he called a 'really big one' for the area that helped boost his catch.
The Knoxville native has competed in the Classic seven times. Locals who pulled their boats up to watch him fish were hoping this time, he would finish the weekend on top.
"He's from here so I know there's a lot of pressure on him. He's from this area, so I like him a lot. I heard stories about how good he was when he was young," said Larry Ellison, who took his own boat out Friday morning to cheer on DeFoe.
Ellison and a friend created three posters spelling out Ott's name using a Tennessee Power T.
"It's not quite like a Tennessee football game because you have to be quiet. We're trying to give him space, but root him on from a distance."
Patrick Cagle didn't just hear stories of DeFoe's talent, he fished with the legend when he was younger.
"I got to fish with Ott when I was about 12 years old in the Mountain Cove Kids Tournament. "Ott was a great guy. I didn't have [any]body to fish with because a buddy of mine was fishing with my dad. Ott's dad called him and he came out to fish with me. He's always been a nice guy every time I talked to him," Cagle said. "I hope he wins it."
The Bassmaster Classic is March 15- 17, 2019 in Knoxville, TN.
RELATED: 10 About Town: March 14 - 17, 2019