ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – With a massive lead to begin the second day of fishing in Match 1 at the 2023 General Tire Team Series Lucas Oil Qualifier Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches in Minnesota, Team Crockett Creek entered the morning with a defensive strategy.
Team captain Jacob Wheeler, Jason Lambert and Dylan Hays decided that they would all fish in the same general area for the day, and figure out the conditions well enough to maintain the massive cushion they built on Day 1 of Match 1 competition (66 pounds, 4 ounces ahead of Team Kubota in second place).
That strategy unfolded almost perfectly as they arrived at Lake Le Homme Dieu – the same lake where they racked up their big Day 1 lead. Starting Day 2 on familiar waters, it was more of the same for Crockett Creek, with Lambert taking the lead and posting a day’s-best 34 bass for 55 pounds, 7 ounces.
“You never know in this format and no lead is safe,” Lambert said. “We knew anything could happen with this format, but when we arrived at Lake Le Homme Dieu, we felt pretty good about our chances. We decided to play defense, but you still have to catch them.”
Lambert’s primary area (where he smashed 76-2 the previous day) got crowded after the rest of the field realized how productive it was. The majority of the nine boats in Match 1 were in the same general area to begin the day.
“There were six boats in the area,” Lambert said. “Even with a big lead, we had Dylan playing defense and protecting some areas, but we were all fishing close together.”
All three members of Team Crockett Creek posted respectable weights, with Hays catching 24 largemouth for 42-15 and Wheeler adding 17 for 38-3. Nearly all the fish caught by the team fell for a vibrating jig fished around scattered grass and edges.
With a win, Team Crockett Creek has advanced to the General Tire Team Series Championship in Florida. After two days of fishing with Wheeler and Hays, Lambert likes his chances for another win.
“Jacob is the best in the world, and I’ve learned that Dylan is a very good and versatile angler,” Lambert said. “I feel good about our chances to win it and feel our individual strengths fit well together. I’m more of a winder and Jacob is great at picking apart cover, and Dylan seems like he can do it all. That’s going to be important when we head to the finals.”
About the team format, count Lambert and company as big fans of the new series.
“It was a lot of fun and felt like we were fishing with a buddy in a team tournament back home,” Lambert said. “We had a lot of fun with it, ripped on each other a few times and shared a bunch of laughs. It was very fun and should be a good one to watch.”
Team Crockett Creek ended up with 310-7, Team Kubota totaled 224-8, and Team Ferguson finished with 129-14.
The first day of Group B competition at the Lucas Oil Qualifier of the General Tire Team Series can be seen Saturday, Jan. 14 from 2-4 p.m. ET on Outdoor Channel.