Head of the class: Montevallo Falcon Dalton Head thriving at REDCREST - Major League Fishing
Head of the class: Montevallo Falcon Dalton Head thriving at REDCREST
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Head of the class: Montevallo Falcon Dalton Head thriving at REDCREST

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Dalton Head's the first college angler to compete at REDCREST and he finished the first day in second place. Photo by Garrick Dixon. Angler: Dalton Head.
March 14, 2024 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As college fishing has continued to boom, the skills acquired at that level are clearly translating well to the pro ranks. The latest case study is Mercury pro Dalton Head, who sits in second place after the first day of fishing on Lay Lake for Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Powered by OPTIMA Lithium.

The opportunity for college anglers to fish at the highest level has been around for a dozen years in the Bassmaster Classic. However, Head is the first to compete in REDCREST while still enrolled in college, and he’s making the most of it; having put 17 bass for 44 pounds, 6 ounces on SCORETRACKER® on Day 1 to finish one spot behind Michael Neal.

Head’s great day on Lay Lake came after an unassuming start. He blasted off as the 50th and final boat in an unwrapped Ranger, wearing jeans and cowboy boots. It’s been just one day, but he’s already impressed with his fishing skills. 

After briefly holding the lead midday, Head looks forward to continuing his excellent run on Friday. But even with his great start, he’s still thinking about what could’ve been.

“It looks great on paper, fantastic really,” Head said of his first day at REDCREST. “But, I didn’t fish clean and left a lot of fish out there. I can’t do anything about that, but catching them on the first day does feel good.”

Local knowledge paying off

For what he lacks in age, Head makes up for in local knowledge. Photo by Garrick Dixon

A student at the University of Montevallo, Head’s school is 30 minutes from takeoff at Beeswax Creek Park. As a result, Head is very familiar with Lay Lake. When he qualified for REDCREST, he instantly became an angler to watch.

Lay’s proximity to home also brought out a contingent of boats filled with Head’s family and fishing buddies to root him on, support that helped calm him down on Thursday.

“When I went on that little spree, it helped keep me level-headed,” he said. “It also pumped me up to catch some in front of them.”

Before the event, Head said that he had nothing to lose, even with the added pressure of fishing at home. On the outside, he was calm – but inside, he felt it in the days leading up to takeoff.

“Oh my gosh, I had so many nerves leading up to this event,” Head admitted. “Mainly, I’ve been thinking about how the weather would change things, where the fish were going, and how they would act. All I could do today was go fishing and try to figure it out.”

Like the rest of the field, he’s guessing what the incoming weather forecast will do to the fish, especially the forecasted rain and winds. He says both could be a bonus for the fishing. 

“This lake is known for the best fishing on the nastiest days possible,” Head said. “That’s when they really bite. I just don’t know how that’s going to affect what I’m doing this week, so it has me a little nervous.”

At least for one day, the Montevallo Falcon had it figured out on his home lake. The last notable college fishing local to have success in a championship event? That would be Jordan Lee, who finished sixth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. Comparing the two anglers further at this point would be a stretch, but Head can make some history on Lay Lake if he can contend for the win.