By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
A significant majority of Bass Pro Tour anglers voted in favor of the five-fish scoring format that'll be implemented when the new season starts in February. Ott DeFoe was among the minority.
"I voted to keep it the same and I've been openly stating that to anybody and everybody," he said. "That was my preference and that's how I voted.
"I wasn't happy to see the change come overall, although I do see where it can have benefits as far as the fans – relatability and that kind of thing. But I enjoyed every-fish-counts. I just enjoyed the pace of it in general. I'm not saying that it made me fish faster or slower. I just enjoyed the movement of the day."
As anyone who's followed the circuit is aware, DeFoe thrived under the all-fish-count system. He was twice the runner-up for Angler of the Year (AOY) honors and has won four times, including the year's Heavy Hitters. The specialty events, of which Heavy Hitters is one, will continue to use the aggregate format.
DeFoe has an idea of how competition days will play out for viewers of the BPT in 2023. The action will be hot and heavy during the first of the three 2 1/2-hour periods as competitors work their way up to a limit, then slow down once they have to catch one that's among their best five in order to improve their standing on the ScoreTracker.
"A lot of the upgrades will be 6 to 8 ounces or sometimes maybe a pound and a half," he said. "Before, we had a 2-pound minimum. Unless you made a 6-pound change, it really wasn't big news.
"When I look at it, I immediately think that there's some things I'm going to have to do differently, but then I look back and some of the good days I've had and I didn't change the way I was fishing throughout the day. I caught my biggest fish in the third period throwing the same thing I started with in the first, so I really don't know how much will actually change."
The thought put him in mind of a day he had at Cayuga Lake this season.
"It was the first day and on my second cast I caught a 6-something on a little bitty finesse jig. Then in the second period I caught another 6 on a (Rapala) DT-10 cranking a grassline. I had some other fish that were 4s and my best five added up to 26-something.
"With all the fish added up I was in the teens (in that day's standings), but with five fish I couldn't imagine being worse that 5th. The point is that when I caught those 6-pounders, in neither case was I fishing for big ones. I could just as easily have caught them on a dropshot."
He does envision himself having some different tackle on his boat that he hasn't brought along in a while.
"I haven't carried a glide bait in the last three years and I was fine with that, not that I hate throwing it or anything. There was just stuff I didn't have to carry, but now I need to look at it tournament by tournament.
"In May we'll be at Guntersville and if we were counting every fish, I wouldn't carry 9-inch spoons or 8-inch swimbaits, but I probably will now. There'll be a couple instances like that throughout the year."
> Coming off his second-place finishes in the points the previous two seasons, his 22nd-place showing this year was somewhat of a letdown. "Outside the Heavy Hitters win, it wasn't the kind of year I wanted to have. Hopefully next year I can be back in the AOY running when it gets down toward the end."