Team Fox Rent a Car rallies to Team Series Championship qualification - Major League Fishing
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Team Fox Rent a Car rallies to Team Series Championship qualification

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Jonathon VanDam got on a hot streak that took his team to the lead. Photo by Garrick Dixon. Angler: Jonathon VanDam.
February 6, 2023 • Tyler Brinks • General Tire Team Series

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – A final period change up took Team Fox Rent a Car to a General Tire Team Series Championship qualification during the second day of fishing in Match 3 at the Lucas Oil Qualifier Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches.

Team Star brite started the day leading Team Fox Rent a Car by 26 pounds, 2 ounces on Lake Le Homme Dieu and connected waters. They maintained their lead until just before the final period, when Fox Rent a Car took over and won the round by 31-1.

Fox’s team captain James Elam led all anglers over two days with 109-12, but Jonathon VanDam’s 81-10 on the second day was crucial for Fox’s furious finish. Much of that came in the final period, where Elam said VanDam “went nuclear” on the way to the win. Their triumph resulted from an excellent game plan and some clutch decisions.

Formulating a plan

Elam, VanDam and Brent Chapman spent time together after the first day of fishing to discuss their plan. 

“We got together and talked about it,” Elam said. “There were two possibilities: we were going to the same lake or somewhere new. So, we made plans for both.”

When the trio arrived at Lake Le Homme Dieu, they quickly split the lakes. 

“We sent Jonathon to where I had been catching them the first day on Lake Carlos, and I joined Brent on his best place on Lake Darling,” Elam said. “Darling was the best of the lakes, but it was crowded and we knew we’d have to catch as much as we could early to get the most out of it.”

Their plan worked well as they inched closer to the leaders. During the second period, the team switched gears after Chapman had an idea. 

“Brent had a gut feeling that he needed to check out this little side shoot lake connected to Le Homme Dieu because he hadn’t seen anybody go in there yet,” Elam said. “He went there and JVD came to take his place on Darling because the bite slowed on Carlos. It worked and we all continued to catch fish. It was perfect planning and scheming and we took the lead right before the third period.”

The winning pattern

All three anglers were using vibrating jigs, targeting mid-depth grass, a pattern that worked throughout the entire chain. Elam first discovered the pattern during the first day of fishing.

“When I noticed SCORETRACKER® was going crazy the first day, I knew it had to be with a moving bait because of how fast they were catching them,” he said. “The grass and time of year told me it must be a vibrating jig, and I tried it and started catching them. We tried swim jigs, shallow crankbaits, worms, but nothing could compare to the vibrating jig.”

Eventually, all three anglers used it exclusively, targeting grass between 3 and 8 feet deep. 

“It had to be close to a deeper break,” Elam said. “The fish would position differently depending on the time of day. Sometimes they would be up on the shallow side, sometimes on points in the grass, and other times on the deeper edge. We communicated throughout the day about what we saw and where we were catching them. It was a good team performance.”

At the end of two competition days, team Star brite (Alton Jones Jr., Roy Hawk, and Britt Myers) had 281-14 and team B&W Trailer Hitches (Mark Davis, Cliff Pace, and Gary Klein) had 254-14. 

Costa Qualifier starts Saturday, Feb. 11

The second group of nine teams will begin competition at the Costa Qualifier in Stockton, Missouri. Day 1 of Match 1 can be watched on the following days and times on Outdoor Channel: Feb. 11 (2-4 p.m. ET), Feb. 12 (4-6 p.m. ET) and Feb. 17 (9-11 a.m. ET).