Fanning DeFoe's flames

She had heard the name but didn’t know much about him. Now Cynthia Bryan is Ott DeFoe’s biggest fan.

Bryan, of Farmerville, La., was selected as one of the fans to be virtually paired with a Toyota Trucks All-Star Week angler. She drew the Elite Series rookie, who is now being picked by some to win it all. If he does, she would win a boat.

The fan paired with the winner of this weekend’s Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship receives a Triton 18XS bass boat with a Mercury 150 OptiMax engine, and Bryan hopes it’s her.

“I’ve never even won a piece of gum,” she said.

Bryan has fished as a co-angler in several B.A.S.S. events. Her short-lived career came to an abrupt halt after four tournaments.

“I was in the Open in Texoma and got thrown out of the boat going 75, and I said It’s over,’ ” said Bryan, who now would prefer to have her own boat. “Yes, I would. I don’t have one. My son said, ‘Just take the boat then learn to fish.’ “

Her son, Chris Burnham, has fished the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens and posted two top 10 finishes. Bryan fished as another avenue to help promote her business, Old River Lures, a sponsor of Elite angler Clark Reehm.

“That’s how I got to voting,” she said.  “Clark said, ‘Vote for me.’ ”

She did and randomly picked others.

“I did it for fun. I’m just promoting my company,” she said. “I love all the guys, a lot are good friends.”

Bryan, the only woman selected to be virtual paired, was in New Mexico when she got the email and it took a bit to register it wasn't a sick joke. Then she started studying up on DeFoe.

“I really don’t know this guy,” she said. “I was thinking Aaron Martens, but I was kind of glad I didn’t get KVD – he didn’t make it.”

She’s become a big fan of DeFoe, who takes on Mike Iaconelli in Friday’s first-round matchup on the Alabama River.

 “I’m excited. I can’t believe it. I got high hopes,” Bryan said. “Ott fishes the TVA all the time, that’s current fishing,” she said. “I think he’s going to win.”

Vacationing in Orange Beach, Ala., Bryan said a side trip is in order if DeFoe makes Sunday’s final pairing.

“It’s not very far. If he gets to the top two, I’m driving up,” she said.

A $30,000 prize could await. All the 12 fans selected will receive a tackle pack from Berkley and Havoc.

Other fans still in the mix include:

  • Tom Shoe of Star, N.C., paired with Skeet Reese
  • Sean Graves of Spofford, N.H., paired with Edwin Evers
  • Shane Martin of Lindstrom, Minn., paired with Terry Scroggins
  • David Williams of Sulphur, La., paired with Michael Iaconelli
  • John Bragg of Birmingham, Ala., paired with Casey Ashley
  • Robert Agee of Kingwood, Texas, paired with Gerald Swindle
  • Tom Toth of Yalaha, Fla., paired with Aaron Martens