Two Terminator baits helped Ott DeFoe win a third Bassmaster Open on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake, his home water. The first was no surprise – a Terminator® Pro Series Jig, long a go-to bait for DeFoe. The second threw Bassmaster media observers for a loop when DeFoe started slinging it – a Terminator Walking Frog Jr.
“DeFoe made a bold move, switching to a most obscure lure choice,” Bassmaster reported.
“We catch tons of fish up there on topwater baits, but that was the first time I’ve ever caught them on a frog,” DeFoe says. “First time in my life – and I’ve fished up there for 15 years or more.”
Winning with a Walking Frog Jr. was especially gratifying for DeFoe because he helped Terminator design the bait.
“It is cool to have something you believe in that much and then have a ‘proof’s in the pudding’ kind of deal,” he says. “I know how good it is, and to win such a major event on one of the baits I got to have a hand in picking the actions and the colors and everything else, it feels good.”
DeFoe won the tournament with 44 pounds, 9 ounces, after catching three five-fish limits weighing 15 pounds, 16 pounds and 15 ounces and 12 pounds, 10 ounces. He previously won Bassmaster Opens in 2017 and 2014 on Douglas Lake, which is located just up the road from where he lives north of Knoxville. This year and last, he caught ‘em best in an area way up the French Broad River – and area he needed a shallow-draft aluminum boat to reach, dodging boulders and crossing awfully skinny water at times.
“The big key was knowing which stretches of bank were best, just from years, and years, and years of fishing up there,” Defoe says. “At some point in time, I’ve fished every inch of every bank. So you go up there and fish it the same time of year in similar conditions 15 or 20 times, you get bit in the same places – the same stumps, the same trees. So you know when you’re coming down the bank, this 20-foot section is where the fish are going to be, on this particular stump or that particular laydown.”
Knowing the area so well gave DeFoe the confidence to stick with it, even when it wasn’t giving up bites as easily as it usually does.
“Typically, it’s a one- or two-cast kind of thing, where this time it was an 8- to 10-cast kind of thing,” he says. “So when you get to those areas and they don’t bite on the first or second cast, you don’t freak out, you know they’re still there. I would really take my time and pick those areas apart, just knowing that there was a fish there. And eventually, I could get that fish to bite.”
Terminator Pro Series Jig
Step 1 in picking apart his key areas was pitching a ½ oz. black-and-blue Terminator Pro Series Jig, which was DeFoe’s key bait on Thursday, the first of the three-day tournament.
“I was flipping into wood – laydowns, root balls, and stuff like that – all super-shallow, from a foot to 2 ½ feet,” he says. “Fishing slow was key. I mean, you had to pitch in there, let it settle, sometimes deadstick it, or just barely move it a little bit. It needed to stay in front of their face to get bit.”
Featuring a unique head design, Terminator’s Pro Series Jig is much more versatile than most jigs. Custom jig-skirt colors, color-matched brush guards, a single rattle and a heavy VMC® Black Nickel hook further differentiate it from other cookie-cutter jigs that all pretty much look the same. They’re available in five sizes: ¼ oz, 3/8 oz, ½ oz, ¾ oz and 1 oz.
Terminator Walking Frog Jr.
On the second day of the tournament, the water level in DeFoe’s key area had fallen several inches and the water had cleared up a bit from the 6 to 8 inches of limited visibility in effect on day one. Those changes caused DeFoe’s jig bite to cool off, so he had to come up with a Plan B.
“I had the thought the first day to try the Walking Frog Jr, but I was too stubborn to get it out,” DeFoe says. “The second day, I was like ‘I need to try it.’ And in the first 10 minutes, I catch a three-pounder. Once I tried it and had immediate success, I was like ‘Yes, this is perfect!’ It was subtle, it stayed in the fish’s face – in the strikezone – and I could fish it anywhere I could throw it.”
Both the 2 ½-inch Walking Frog Jr. and its big brother, the 3-inch Walking Frog, feature a custom VMC® frog-gap hook that hugs the frog’s body so snugly that it’s virtually snagless, even in heavy cover.
“I was skipping that frog over limbs, under overhanging trees, root balls and undercut banks, little shade pockets, and then working it as slow as I could,” DeFoe explains. “I really couldn’t fish anything else in those spots, or I would be hung up with any other bait. But I could throw the frog anywhere I wanted to.”
Walking Frogs feature lifelike round-rubber legs and heavy-duty welded line ties. They’re tail-weighted to increase casting distance and stability on the retrieve. Walking Frog bodies are extra-soft, easily compressing when a bass bites, increasing hook-up ratio.
“The vast majority of the strikes on the frog came in the first foot of the retrieve,” Defoe reports. He often twitched it as many as four or five times in the strike zone before getting bit.
A Walking Frog Jr. weighs half an ounce. It’s available in 16 color patterns: Hot Shad, Bluegill, White Camo, Black Camo, Cocoa Camo, Hot Mud Camo, Brown Camo, Yellow Leopard, Lime Leopard, Green Leopard, Hot Chartreuse Shad, Smoke Silver Shad, Bull Frog, Ghost Pearl, Ghost and Black Chartreuse Leopard. Defoe’s color of choice Friday and Saturday was Smoke Silver Shad.
VMC Heavy Duty Worm Hook
On Saturday, when the bass were less aggressive, DeFoe’s key bait was a 6-inch soft-plastic worm rigged on a 3/0 VMC® Ike Approved Heavy Duty Worm Hook with a 3/16 oz. weight.