Travel Pals Help Crews Achieve Consistency

By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

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Bull Shoals Lake got lucky it’s not on the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule.

That’s the attitude John Crews is taking after the White River impoundment got the best of him 2 years in a row. He rarely gets fooled three times. Heck, looking back over the past 4 seasons, Crews seems to hardly get fooled at all anymore. He says it’s a credit to his preparation and those he prepares with.

The Virginian is coming off his finest Elite Series campaign, having finished 7th in points after posting a pair of 3rd-place finishes and missing the money cut just once. Since 2010, when he opened the season with a victory at the California Delta, he’s been a mainstay among the Top 30 in points.

“I’d say it was a good year,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was a great year. It’s a great year if you can have your cake and eat it, too. I had my cake, but I didn’t get the chance to eat it – I didn’t cap it off with a big win. I feel like I’m fishing good for the most part and I want to keep building on it and stay consistent.”

While some would pat themselves on the back for such a successful year or stretch of seasons, Crews was quick to credit his travel partners – Ish Monroe, Mike Iaconelli and Fletcher Shryock – as being part of the reason why he was so strong in 2013.

“It just goes back to working hard and practicing hard and making sure I’m prepared at each event and fresh,” he said. “I have a good time at the event and really enjoy spending time with Ish and Fletcher and Mike. We all work together. Ish and I definitely work real well together as far as practicing and feeding off of each other. I think it’s definitely helped the both of us.”

He traveled with other Elite Series pros earlier in his career, but his comfort level with the group he’s teamed up with now is at an all-time high, especially Monroe.

“It’s not to say we couldn’t have a couple bad events, but I don’t see us having a bad year because of the teamwork and staying positive,” Crews said. “We push each other to figure out more and more things and dial things in to be able to have more and more stuff to fall back on during the event.”

Strong Start

Crews built some serious momentum at the season-opening Texas swing, posting a 26th at the Sabine River and following it up with a 3rd-place showing at Falcon Lake, where he cracked the century mark. It was the first time since 2008 that he’d cashed checks in the first two events of the season.

“It was awesome,” he said. “The Sabine River was an event that I think a lot of people were really scared about because there was a real fine line between having a Top-20 and finishing in the bottom 20. To get out of there with a decent finish was good.

“Falcon was one of those places that got me the first time we were there. I made a bunch of bad decisions and it kicked me in the rear. I was really looking forward to going there because I knew I was going to get revenge on it.”

But his bravado was nearly dashed on the opening day of practice when he had one 5-pound bite to show for 10 hours on the water.

“I said, ‘Uh oh. Something’s wrong,'” he recalled. “I was flipping a Missile Baits D Bomb the whole time. For some reason, sometimes the Missile Craw is the deal and once I picked up that Missile Craw, it was like I was fishing a completely different lake.

“I put Ish on that bite and he had a good tournament. That bait was the difference between having a great tournament and having a terrible tournament. It was one of those little decisions that you make during practice that turned out to be golden. It really paid off there.”

He opened with a stout, 26-pound bag, but a 15-pound stringer on day 2 left him in 38th place. He proceeded to catch more than 62 pounds over the final 2 days – more than anyone else in the field – to climb up to 3rd.

“I had one 15-pound day at Falcon and that really doused my chances at winning,” he said. “I was just fishing the moment. I went to a big section of the lake that I’d practiced briefly on and it was dead. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t practice enough on it. I had to scramble to catch the 15 pounds and did that in the last couple hours, but that dialed me into where I needed to be fishing.”

Bunch of Bull

As noted above, Bull Shoals got the best of Crews the last 2 years. In 2012, he finished 63rd there and returned this year hoping to score a little revenge. Instead, the fish won again as he placed 78th, his worst finish since an 80th at Lake Guntersville in May 2009.

“That place got me the last time we were there,” he said. “I wanted to get revenge on it. Dadgum, if things didn’t switch around this year and I didn’t adjust properly and I missed the bite again. It was frustrating because I like the lake, but it’s had my number the last two years. I’m a little disappointed we don’t get to go back.

“It’s funny because you’d think a place that’s whooped you a couple times you wouldn’t want to go back to, but I really do. I’m going to get that place back. I love the way it lays out and everything about it. It was just a coincidence more than anything.”

Notable

> Crews also placed 3rd at the Mississippi River this year, an improvement of 14 places over his 2012 result there. He said focusing his effort in one part of one pool was the key. “The Mississippi River tournament was different because that place is so big that you can get caught up in fishing so much water,” he said. “I had a good first day and I just kept expanding the same kind of water for the next 2 days of practice. I tried to find every single area that was any good in that particular pool. The biggest key to my success was not trying to catch them where I caught them the year before.”


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