Team Star brite uses smallmouth and shallow-water bite to claim Match 3 lead on Day 1 - Major League Fishing
Team Star brite uses smallmouth and shallow-water bite to claim Match 3 lead on Day 1
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Team Star brite uses smallmouth and shallow-water bite to claim Match 3 lead on Day 1

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March 13, 2023 • Mason Prince • General Tire Team Series

BOLIVAR, Mo. – The final match of the General Tire Team Series Costa Qualifier Presented by Toyota got underway on the east side of Stockton Lake. The three teams — Team Star brite, Team Kubota and Team Builders FirstSource — fished for three periods on the 13,820 surface acres of water and it was the Star brite team of Skeet Reese, Shaw Grigsby and Jeremy Lawyer who came out on top after Day 1.

Team Star brite caught 29 bass for 47 pounds, 10 ounces. The second-place team of Edwin Evers, Justin Cooper and John Murray (Team Kubota) tallied 28 bass for 45-1. Finally, Gerald Spohrer, Dakota Ebare and Jim Tutt came in third after catching 17 bass for 32-7 (Builders FirstSource).

Reese’s team uses local knowledge and fishing strengths to end up on top

When captain Reese drafted his team, he had no idea that the first place they would be fishing would be a lake that one of his teammates called home.

“The great thing for our team coming into the event was that Jeremy was extremely familiar with Stockton Lake,” Reese said. “It’s basically a home lake for him. He knew right away how he needed to fish. However, he wasn’t very familiar with the east side of the lake.”

The west arm of Stockton Lake is really where Lawyer feels the most at home. Still, Lawyer had years of experience on the lake and helped give his team a leg up on the rest of the competition due to his prior knowledge.

Reese said the plan was simple — let Jeremy do what he feels most comfortable with while he and Grigsby tried to figure out some other patterns.

“I got way up into some timber fishing shallow while Shaw was chasing release fish,” Reese said. “We found out in the morning that the smallmouth were biting pretty well. Jeremy found that throwing a spinnerbait and a bladed jig up shallow was going to be the deal for us.”

Lawyer led the way with four bass in the first period while Grigsby tacked on three and Reese added two. While Reese had faith in his teammate’s guidance about the lake, the California pro felt as though he could have been a little more productive if he focused on something else.

As time was winding down in the first period, Reese was in the back of a shallow pocket and saw what he believed to be a 3-pounder jump. Noticing there were bait fish abound, he hatched a new plan with his team during the period break.

“I told the guys I wanted to try throwing a lipless crankbait in shallow pockets because that’s how I felt I could catch them the best,” Reese said. “I was making long casts to nothing in dirt-shallow water. There was no structure or cover I was focused on other than the shallow water. That turned out to be the best move for me.”

Over the next two periods, Reese added six bass for 10-11 focusing on the shallow-water bite, helping push the team’s total weight to 47-10. Lawyer had the most weight on the team with 14 bass for 23-15 while Grigsby chipped in seven bass for 9-6. Team Star brite will begin Day 2 of competition with a 2-9 lead over Team Kubota.

Where/when/how to watch

You can catch Day 2 of Match 3 of the Costa Qualifier at the following times on Outdoor Channel: March 18 (2-4 p.m. ET), March 19 (4-6 p.m. ET) and March 24 (9-11 a.m. ET)