Recap: 2017 Summit Select Survival Round 1

By Bailey McBride - January 29, 2017

Survival Round 1 of the 2017 Summit Cup was a series and ups and downs, resulting in an upset in the last minute of competition.

The field was stacked with anglers who had performed well earlier in the week, with MLF newcomers Zack Birge, Dave LeFebre and Casey Ashley ready to take on veterans Ott Defoe, Mark Rose and James Watson.

For Survival Round 1, the anglers moved to a new section of Lake of the Ozarks, the Niangua Arm, an area with roughly 4,200 acres of fishable water.

Birge, Defoe and Watson started in the same area near docks within sight of one another.

“Watson’s right across the cove from me over there and is the king of clown,” Defoe said.

Watson had the first catch of the day off a dock with a 1lb, 11oz fish. After that the SCORETRACKER started to light up across the board, with Ashley catching a 3 lb fish fishing topwater on the docks and Rose catching his first fish behind a dock on a buzz bait.

All of the anglers seemed shaky as they fought to find the right bait and location (docks or creeks) to capitalize on the early morning catch. Birge, LeFebre and Defoe were fishing behind each other in the same area, trading catches and vying for the top spot.

At the end of Period 1, Birge led the group with 19 lb, 10 oz, but Defoe was close behind with 18lb, 10oz. All the anglers knew they needed to adjust and find something and somewhere else to fish to make it happen with two more periods to go.

Early in Period 2, Rose was able to find his pattern, and moved into third place behind Birge and Defoe.

“That’s the thing I haven’t figured out, the difference in these areas here—right there I was just hitting the shade behind that dock so I’m just going to have to scratch and claw and hit everything,” Rose said.

About halfway into Period 2 Defoe spotted a creek in the distance he thought he might be able to squeeze into, even if it meant dragging his boat. He settled for fishing the shallow water at the opening for a while before getting out of the boat to drag it back into the pocket for the last 30 minutes of the period.

At the end of Period 2, Defoe was in the lead with 29lb, 14oz. catching fish off his buzzbait on the shallow shadeline.

Period 3 the anglers had to decide whether to stick with their morning patterns or find something new. Though Defoe started out in the opening of his Period 2 position, he ultimately decided it was worth it to get out of the boat and drag it back into his honey hole.

While Defoe was dragging his boat, Birge made a series of quick catches that brought him within 2 lbs. of Defoe. At 45 minutes left in the period, Birge overtook Defoe to move into first place. Defoe moved back into the first position shortly after although the two anglers had the same weight. The two leap frogged back and forth through the very end.

After what will surely be remembered as one of the most exciting finishes in Major League Fishing competition, Defoe caught a 4 lb., 11 oz fish with one minute to go securing his win over Birge.

“I’m 25 years old, I’ve got a bunch of grey hairs already, but I guarantee you by the end of next week I’ll have a lot more,” Birge said.

At the end of the competition, Defoe took the spot in the Summit Cup with 42 lbs, 2 oz.

“You cannot end the period any better than that,” Defoe said. “It was a heck of a day, it was a hot day, it was a lot of work. This win means a lot, no other way to put it.”

For more information on what happened in this episode, check out the Strategy Recap here.

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