DeFoe Says Pickwick Should Be A Shootout
Published on 05-25-2023
We reached out to Minn Kota & Humminbird Pro Ott DeFoe to get his thoughts ahead of the 1st Annual Minn Kota Owners Tournament coming up on Pickwick, June 3-4th. “It’s a prime time of year not just for big fish, but for numbers of fish and they should be biting.” said DeFoe.
“The obvious thing is the ledge bite,” he said. “I tend to like places that are just outside of the edge of the grass. Look for where it ends and then find a hard spot. So if the grass ends in 8 feet, maybe you’re fishing out in 10. If it ends in 12, you’re looking to catch them in 13 or 14.”
On some lakes, the key areas on the ledges consist of particular types of cover – perhaps isolated stumps, small rock piles, or shell beds – but DeFoe said that wouldn’t be the first thing he’d look for on Pickwick.
“Most of it will be current-related,” he explained. “You want a place that’s catching the current well. Depth is relative. Cover is relative. What you want is some type of a little step, a one foot or two foot quick little shelf that the current is hitting straight on or maybe glancing off of it.”
He said that the number one tool for finding these spots, and figuring out which of Pickwick’s numerous ones are likely to produce best, is his Humminbird 360.
“Most of what I’d be fishing is pretty clean, but with the 360, not only will I see the limited cover but I’ll see the fish, too,” he said. “They show up very well. And once I know that they’re there, I can Spot Lock and know with confidence that they’re still there. My 360 will show the angles, whether they’re at 90 degrees, or 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock, and it’ll show the key little breaks.”
It also allows him to gauge the mood of the bass. Often, he will remain in one area for extensive periods of time, and the bass will regularly group up, scatter and then regroup. When they’re in a bunched formation, he said that there’s no better tool for getting a big bite than a crankbait. He prefers Rapala’s DT Series, and will go as small as a DT8 or as large as a DT20, depending on the depth of the cover and of the fish. A DT14 does a lot of his heavy lifting at this time of year. He said that three colors will suffice in this season much of the time: Green Gizzard for clear water; Citrus Shad for lightly stained water; and Caribbean Shad for more colored water.
“You always want to make bottom contact, but even more important is that you move it fast,” he added. “I use a 6.8:1 Bass Pro Shops reel and I’m reeling the snot out of it.”
When the fish scatter, the current slows down or the bite otherwise gets tough, DeFoe turns to a Neko Rigged Bass Pro Shops Fin-Eke worm, which is straight-tailed and subtle but still a bit bigger than a lot of traditional finesse baits. But if you’re not a ledge hound, or expect them to be too crowded for your liking DeFoe said there’s a secondary pattern that may actually be at least as good as the first one: Brim beds up shallow.
“The fish that are out are primarily shad eaters,” he said. “But the ones that remain shallow are bluegill eaters and crawfish eaters. You can find those brim beds from one end of the lake to the other – some of the biggest fish are nearest the lower end – and catch some remarkably big bass with a topwater or a wacky worm. He’d also keep a hollow bodied frog ready for any sort of shallow matted vegetation he encountered. No matter what, he’d keep his Minn Kota on high, covering water, looking for big loners. Especially ones that will contend for the $50,000 grand prize for big bass of the tournament.
“Out on the ledges there are tons of 2- to 4-pound fish, but sometimes the rogues – the really big ones – never leave the shallows. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re a little less crowded. Even when fishing ledges, I tend to like the shallower ones, particularly up towards Wilson, because you’re more likely to have them to yourself and the latest spawners are usually on that end.”
If this is your first big bass event, be sure to pay careful attention to the live leaderboard. Especially on a big lake like Pickwick, time management and hourly decisions are a big part of success and will improve your odds of cashing a check. Catching the right fish is the first step, but knowing when to weigh it in will maximize your earnings.
The two-day event will feature over $150,000 in prizes and payouts, so you don’t want to miss it! Visit www.minnkotaowners.com for more information and registration details.