LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The final episode of the General Tire Team Series Bass Pro Shops Championship Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches premiered Saturday, and Team Crockett Creek Beef Jerky, led by a 56-fish day from captain Jacob Wheeler, dominated the final day of competition to win the inaugural championship event and earn the $300,000 top prize.
Wheeler, along with teammates Jason Lambert and Dylan Hays, caught 68 scorable bass weighing 133 pounds, 4 ounces, to win the event by a huge 72-pound, 8-ounce margin. Team Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff & Pouches (Bryan Thrift, Terry Scroggins and Anthony Gagliardi) finished the event in second place with 23 scorable bass weighing 60-12, while Team Builders FirstSource (Jeff Sprague, Randall Tharp and Cliff Crochet) finished third with 24 bass weighing 49-15.
“This is unreal,” Wheeler said. “I was just sitting in one spot, and when you know that you just fired up a school of bass and it is a feeding frenzy – there is nothing like it.
“This event has been so unique, and so much fun,” Wheeler said. “The teamwork that we’ve had – Jason (Lambert) carried us in Minnesota.”
“Dylan (Hays) has been ‘Steady Eddy’ this whole time, and the last two days Wheeler has just been Wheeler,” Lambert said. “You can’t take any of these for granted. You never know if you’re going to get an opportunity to do something like this again.”
Wheeler’s unbelievable 56-fish day came via a not-yet-released prototype Rapala jerkbait called The Maverick.
“They have been working on this jerkbait for several years now, and the one thing that separates this bait from any other out there on the market is the realistic colors and its unbelievable action,” Wheeler said. “Action is everything in a jerkbait. When the fish were grouped up, I could throw this bait in there and literally make them bite. It was the reaction strike – that’s what it was all about, today. That was the juice, and that is the bait that made our team $300,000 richer.”
“I’m the only rookie in this field, today, and I definitely count this victory as the first big win of my career,” said Hays on his $100,000 payday.
“We compete all the time on the water by ourselves, but when you do click like Dylan, Jason and I have, we go out on the water and battle not individually, but as a team. And I think that is what separated us this week,” Wheeler went on to say.
The final results from the Championship Round of the General Tire Team Series Bass Pro Shops Championship Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches were:
1st: Team Crockett Creek, 68 bass, 133-4
*Jacob Wheeler, 56 bass, 101-6
Jason Lambert, eight bass, 21-15
Dylan Hays, four bass, 9-15
2nd: Team Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff & Pouches, 23 bass, 60-12
*Bryan Thrift, 10 bass, 28-8
Terry Scroggins, 10 bass, 23-1
Anthony Gagliardi, three bass, 9-3
3rd: Team Builders First Source, 24 bass, 49-15
*Jeff Sprague, 16 bass, 32-3
Cliff Crochet, four bass, 11-10
Randall Tharp, four bass, 6-2
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 115 bass weighing 243 pounds, 15 ounces caught by the nine teams during the Championship Round on Lake Apopka.
The General Tire Team Series Bass Pro Shops Championship Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches was shot over nine days in December and featured nine teams of three anglers visiting Lake County, Florida, to compete on different lakes on the Clermont Chain on each day of competition. Each day the fisheries were unknown to the anglers – they did not learn where they were competing until they arrived at the launch ramp each morning of competition.
The 2023 MLF General Tire Team Series Bass Pro Shops Championship Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches aired on Outdoor Channel as seven, two-hour original episodes each Saturday afternoon, debuting on May 6, 2023, and running through June 17, 2023.
All seven episodes of the General Tire Team Series Bass Pro Shops Championship Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches from Lake County, Florida, are now available for viewing on the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) streaming app. The full television schedule can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Proud sponsors of the MLF General Tire Team Series include: B&W Hitches, Barbasol, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders FirstSource, C-MAP, Crockett Creek Beef Jerky, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, General Tire, Knighten Industries, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Boats, Power-Pole, Rapala Baits, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, Star brite, T-H Marine, Toyota, USAA, and YETI.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the MLF General Tire Team Series events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.