Knoxville native and hometown favorite Ott DeFoe was crowned Bassmaster Classic champion Sunday, March 17th, on the Tennessee River System, becoming the 28th Mercury Marine-powered angler to win the title.
Anglers powered by Mercury have won more Classic titles than all other engine companies combined.
Competitors faced tough conditions in the 49th annual event, with strong currents and fluctuating water temperatures forcing anglers to adjust rapidly and often. With more than 30,000 combined surface acres between Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, contending anglers covered a lot of water.
“For me, it was about targeting shallow transition areas where fish were moving up to spawn,” said DeFoe. “I was able to get a pattern dialed in during practice, and then had to adjust to fishing marina docks on the final day. Having confidence in my equipment allowed me to focus on the fish, even when making long runs and battling heavy current.”
DeFoe wasn’t the only angler counting on a Mercury 250 Pro XS outboard in the battle for $1 million in prize money. Thirty-three of the 52 contestants were powered by Mercury.
With such high stakes on the line, anglers looked to maximize every minute on the water. Competitors “weigh-in” their top-five fish each of the four days of competition, and careers can be made or broken in a single cast. A one-pound penalty is assessed for each minute an angler arrives later than his appointed finish time. Having total confidence in their equipment is essential.
“Mercury’s success in the Bassmaster Classic has been unparalleled and we look forward to continuing to power world champions like Ott for a long time to come,” said Michelle Dauchy, Mercury Marine chief marketing officer.