Ott DeFoe Wins General Tire Heavy Hitters, Alton Jones Jr. Catches $100K Big Bass
TYLER, Texas – Despite being from Tennessee, something about Texas just ‘fits’ with pro angler Ott DeFoe. DeFoe, of Blaine, Tennessee, boated four scorable bass weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces to top the final-day Championship Round and win the top prize of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing (MLF) General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Palestine. DeFoe won by a narrow 12-ounce margin over pro Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, who caught four bass totaling 15-10.
The victory marks DeFoe’s fourth career victory on the Bass Pro Tour, three of which have come on Texas fisheries – Lake Fork, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and now Lake Palestine.
“Man, I love Texas,” a jubilant DeFoe said as the SCORETRACKER® clock expired. “I’m so thankful to have pulled it out. It was a hard day of fishing, and when it’s the 3-pound minimum like we had today, you have to really make every bite count.
“After the first period, I felt like I was out of it,” DeFoe continued. “I had fished all through this area and hadn’t caught anything. It really killed my confidence. I was around a ton of fish on the lower end, and there were some big ones. But I couldn’t get anything going. I came back up here for the last hour or so and I got it done.”
At 3:20 p.m., with just 40 minutes remaining in the competition, DeFoe had weighed in just two scorable bass for 8-2 and was in the bottom half of the leaderboard. In the final 35 minutes, DeFoe caught a 4-10 and a 3-10 to overtake Lucas and earn the top spot.
“Two main baits were the key for me this week,” DeFoe said. “The first was a 4½-inch swimbait, rigged on a VMC Tokyo Rig with a 3/8-ounce weight. I caught some key fish on that, but the big thing was I’d use that to get the fish aggravated and then catch them with the Texas rig. I fished the Tokyo Rig on a 7-foot, 3-inch (Bass Pro Shops) Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 with an 8:3:1 gear ratio CarbonLite reel and 40-pound braided line with a 20- pound (Bass Pro Shops) XPS fluorocarbon leader.
“The other one – that did most of my damage this week – was a Texas-rigged Bass Pro Magnum Fin-Eke Worm. I used the Sooner Run color, with a new VMC hook that is not available yet – but the heavy-duty worm hook works really well with that – and fished it on my favorite setup, a 7-foot, 1-inch medium-heavy Johnny Morris Platinum rod and an 8:3:1 gear ratio Platinum reel with 40-pound braided line and a 17-pound (Bass Pro Shops) XPS fluorocarbon leader.
“I am so thankful, it has been an absolutely awesome week,” DeFoe went on to say. “I really enjoy it when we visit Texas. It doesn’t always work out in a win for me, but it’s treated me well over these past few years.”
Although DeFoe will bring the Heavy Hitters Title and $100,000 top prize back to Tennessee, the big money will be staying in Texas. After catching the $50,000 Berkley Big Bass in the Knockout Round on Wednesday, Waco, Texas, pro Alton Jones, Jr. added another to his résumé in the Championship Round Thursday – this one weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces – to also earn the Championship Round $100,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. All told, the young angler will earn $165,000 for his two Big Bass bonuses and prize money for his fifth-place finish.
“Man, we have made some money on (Lake) Palestine this week catching big bass,” Jones said. “$50,000 yesterday, $100,000 today – I can not believe it. Sight fishing in the springtime is what I love to do, it’s my favorite thing in the world. Kind of like how my dad won Heavy Hitters last year. He taught me a lot when it comes to sight fishing, and what I learned really paid off for me this week.”
Jones said both of his Big Bass Award winners came on a bait that will be released around iCAST this year – a Geecrack Bellow Shad, in AJ’s Juice color.
“Just like yesterday, I caught my fish on the Bellow Shad,” Jones said. “It’s not available yet, but I can’t wait to roll it out later this year – it’s going to be my signature bait. It’s pretty cool to be throwing things out here that nobody else has.
“It’s already been a special year, and I didn’t think anything could top winning Lake Fork earlier this season, but we managed to do it this week,” Jones said. “This is a heck of a payday – $165,000. I think that’s probably the best you can get without winning REDCREST. I’m so excited – life is good in the Jones’ household.”
The Top 10 pros from the General Tire Heavy Hitters event on Lake Palestine are:
- 1st: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., four bass, 16-6, $100,000
- 2nd: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 15-10, $25,000
- 3rd: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., three bass, 12-11, $20,000
- 4th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., three bass, 12-1, $18,000
- 5th: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, two bass, 9-6, $165,000
- 6th: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., two bass, 8-6, $14,500
- 7th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., two bass, 7-6, $13,500
- 8th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., two bass, 6-12, $12,500
- 9th: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, one bass, 3-6, $11,000
- 10th: Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., one bass, 3-2, $8,000
Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 24 scorable bass weighing 95 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the final 10 pros in Thursday’s Championship Round. A bass had to weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable in the Championship Round.
Berkley Big Bass Bonus Award Winners:
- Qualifying Round Group A: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky. (6-9), $25,000
- Qualifying Round Group B: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif. (8-5), $25,000
- Knockout Round: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas (8-3), $50,000
- Championship Round: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas (6-4), $100,000
The General Tire Heavy Hitters 2022 featured the 32 anglers with the heaviest five-fish totals from the 2021 season competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, and a 3-pound minimum in the final day Championship Round. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2022 Event will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 16 and running each Saturday through Aug. 20 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside Heavy Hitters will also air on CBS in late 2022. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Covercraft, Ferguson, FuelMe, GEICO, General Tire, Guaranteed Rate, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop Brakes, Shore Lunch, Sonic, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Airforce, Wiley X, Yellowstone Bourbon, and YETI.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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DeFoe Claims Heavy Hitters Title on Palestine; Jones Earns $100,000 for 6-10 Big Bass
Ott DeFoe holds up his championship belt for winning 2022 Heavy Hitters on Lake Palestine. Photo by Phoenix Moore Photo by Phoenix Moore. Angler: Ott DeFoe.
TYLER, Texas – Same state, same story, different lake. Ott DeFoe is the 2022 General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops Champion after another impressive sight-fishing performance on Lake Palestine. While DeFoe was busy winning $100,000 for finishing on top of SCORETRACKER®, Alton Jones Jr. added $100,000 of his own for catching the biggest bass of the Championship Round with his 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth.
DeFoe Does it Again in Texas
For the fourth time in the last two years, DeFoe has a MLF event win on a Lone Star State lake. He won Stage Three of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour on Lake Fork, the 2021 Stage One on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the 2021 Heritage Cup in Waco, Texas, and now 2022 Heavy Hitters on Lake Palestine. While he hails from eastern Tennessee, DeFoe has found a second bass fishing home in Texas.
“My affection for the state of Texas seems to grow with every tournament I fish here,” DeFoe joked. “I think I perform so well here because I can fish super shallow and there’s a ton of fish. You don’t have to find the best spot on the lake to win in Texas, you just have to hunker down in an area and figure out how to catch them. If you can do that, most of the time you’re going to do well.”
The Bass Pro Shops angler was running out of time in his day and he was looking up at Justin Lucas in first place with only 35 minutes remaining. DeFoe needed at least a 3-pound scorable bass to jump ahead of Lucas. Fishing in the back of a pocket, DeFoe pitched a Bass Pro Shops Fin-Eke worm with a 3/8-ounce weight at a bedding fish and was able to set the hook.
The fish weighed in at 4-10, pushing DeFoe ahead. Just eight minutes later, DeFoe added on a 3-10 bedder to push his total weight to 16-6. Lucas was unable to make up the 12-ounce deficit before time expired. While he only was able to catch four bass all day, the General Tire pro knew that he has the sight-fishing prowess to win the event.
“I was 100% set on sight fishing for bedding fish today,” DeFoe said. “That’s what I did all week and it worked out for me again today. I was consistent all week using my Texas-rigged worm and a Tokyo rig with a 4.5-inch swimbait. Those two baits did all my damage.”
Jones Doubles Up on Big Bass Bonuses, Wins $100K for 6-10
One big bass check isn’t enough, so Jones had to go win an even bigger one on Thursday. The Texas pro earned $50,000 on Wednesday for catching an 8-3 in the Knockout Round, and he added on another $100,000 for catch the biggest bass of the Championship Round—a 6-10.
Doing some quick math — that’s $150,000 just for catching big bass. Go ahead and include $15,000 for finishing in fifth place for the entire event. Safe to say Jones will be heading back home to Waco, Texas, with a big smile and a big check.
“Earning $150,000 in a week for catching big bass isn’t a bad week of work,” Jones said with a smile. “Sight fishing in the springtime is my favorite thing to do in the world, kind of like my dad. He taught me a lot about sight fishing and it really paid off this week.”
Jones caught his big bass on Thursday the same way he caught his big bass on Wednesday — with an unreleased bait that’s coming out at iCAST. The Geecrack Bellow Shad will be released to the public in July, but Jones is already giving the bait $150,000 worth of publicity thanks to his performance on Palestine.
“It’s going to be my signature bait, so catching a fish on a bait with my name on it that isn’t even out yet is pretty amazing,” Jones said.
3-Pound Minimum Leads to Closest Championship Round Ever
The minimum weight for a scorable bass was increased from 2 pounds to 3 pounds for the Championship Round on Thursday. With the increase in weight, the anglers struggled to light up SCORETRACKER® as much as they had throughout the earlier rounds.
There were only 24 scorable bass caught in total on Thursday, and there was only a 4-5 difference between first-place DeFoe and fourth-place Fletcher Shryock. The average scorable bass registered weighed 3-14. Jones had the highest average weight per bass with 4-11.
- The Berkley Big Bass of the Day was Alton Jones Jr.’s 6-10, winning him $100,000.
- Ott DeFoe had the most weight on SCORETRACKER® with 16-6.
- DeFoe and Lucas had the most scorable bass in the round, each with four.
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