ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – The first competition day of the inaugural General Tire Team Series kicked off in central Minnesota with Match 1 of the Lucas Oil Qualifier presented by B&W Trailer Hitches, and it took Tennessee pro Jason Lambert very little time to identify a location and pattern that could ultimately help his team punch its ticket to the $300,000 Team Series Championship.
Team Crockett Creek – team captain Jacob Wheeler, Dylan Hays, and Lambert – took a commanding lead after the first of two days in the three-team match, quickly figuring out the 5,405-acre Lake Le Homme Dieu and posting three of the four best weights on the day.
They dominated Day 1 in a landslide with 173 pounds, 14 ounces – a 66-4 cushion over second-place Team Kubota and a whopping 110-1 over Team Ferguson – led by Lambert’s 42 largemouth for 76-2.
Lake Le Homme Dieu also included connected lakes Carlos, Darling and Alvin. Crockett Creek’s game plan was to divide the lakes between the three, which paid off big as Lambert rocketed out to a fast start.
“We decided in the ride around period that we should split up the lakes and cover different sections of the lakes,” said Lambert, who connected with eight bass in the first 45 minutes of the day, added 10 more in the second hour and never looked back. “Jacob stayed in Le Homme Dieu, Dylan went to Carlos, and I went south to Darling.”
Lambert fished what he considered the best area on the entire chain.
“I landed right on them in the perfect spot,” Lambert said. “It was a very obvious place, a flat point with good grass. When I started fishing, I knew immediately what was going on and it was perfect for a bladed jig.”
The Tennessee pro utilized a vibrating jig as he targeted milfoil edges in 5 to 10 feet of water. Even with an excellent first period by Lambert, the team stuck to the plan of fishing in different areas.
“We decided that the other two guys should continue to fish where they were in the first period so we could expand on the pattern,” Lambert said. “Our thinking was that my bite could die at any minute and we should have some more areas, just in case. Jacob came down at the beginning of the second period and started catching them right away.”
Wheeler had the second-best daily total with 27 fish for 55-8 and Hays was able to add 21 for 42-4.
At the end of the first day of competition, Team Kubota (Greg Vinson, Bradley Roy, and Ryan Salzman) had 107-10 and Team Ferguson (Shin Fukae, Marty Robinson, and Corey Neece) managed 63-13.
Day 2 of the battle between Crockett Creek, Kubota and Ferguson can be seen Saturday, Jan. 7 on Outdoor Channel (2-4 p.m. ET).