Mom Nature didn’t serve up slam-dunk potential, however John Crews leveraged a stellar begin and paired it with regular productiveness to win the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day complete of 75 kilos, 4 ounces.
Edging Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis., by 1 1/4 kilos, Crews gained the highest prize of $100,000 and added one other blue trophy to the one he claimed a dozen years in the past on the California Delta.
“I’ve stated it 100 occasions, ‘When it’s your time, it’s your time,’” Crews stated. “This week, it was simply my time.”
Crews, who completed second and fifth on the St. Johns Elite in 2020 and 2019, respectively, took the Day 1 lead with 28 kilos — the occasion’s third-heaviest bag, behind the 31-15 that John Cox weighed on Day 3 and Downey’s Day 4 restrict of 29-3. Crews’ opening catch included an 8-1.
After including 17-3 on Day 2, Crews fought by means of a harder semifinal spherical on Saturday to catch a 13-pound restrict, anchored by a 6-pounder. On Championship Sunday, he sealed the win with 17-1.
Beginning his seventeenth yr on the Elite Sequence, Crews acknowledged the supreme problem of a clear sweep and stated consistency drove him to victory. He fished clear, misplaced no keepers and made good choices all through per week marked by moody Florida climate and unsettled fish.
After a chilly, moist observe interval, the match noticed the standard post-frontal circumstances — excessive strain, clear skies and flat wind — for the primary two days. Temperatures began rising faster than anticipated, and simply as quickly as Day 3 gave the impression to be stabilizing, Championship Sunday introduced clouds and rain early, then a sunny afternoon.
“I acquired unbelievably lucky; you must catch an enormous bag a minimum of one of many days,” Crews stated. “To win a four-day occasion in Florida, you may’t have any days the place you slip.
“I used to be lucky that (Day 3) was my solely slip day and I had a 6-pounder that basically saved it, or it might have been actually dangerous.”
Every day Crews spent about half of his time in Rodman Reservoir, upriver from Palatka. He additionally fished the primary river and the Rodman Canal — each side of the Buckman Lock accessing Rodman. Contained in the reservoir, Crews caught fish on standing timber and pads, whereas a mixture of pads and different shallow targets comprised his river and canal motion.
In Rodman’s deeper areas, Crews threw a suspending jerkbait and a drop shot rigged with a prototype Missile Baits worm. He caught a mattress fish in Rodman with a Texas-rigged Missile Baits Quiver Worm and likewise threw a Zoom Fluke.
Round pads within the river and canal, Crews caught bass on a 1/2-ounce white spinnerbait and a 3/8- and 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer. He paired the latter with a Missile Baits D Bomb within the bruiser (black/blue) shade and a white Missile Baits Shockwave, based mostly on circumstances.
“I simply went out and fished like I usually fish, which is everywhere,” Crews stated. “I used to be throwing a spinning rod in 25 ft of water one minute and I’m throwing a (response bait) in a foot of water 20 minutes later. Fortunately, on the St. Johns River, that works.
“That’s precisely what I did the final 4 days. I simply combined it up based mostly on the climate.”
Ending second with 74 kilos, Downey adopted his second-place Day 1 restrict of 27-4 with a disastrous Day 2 that noticed him weigh a single fish that went 6-11. Downey added 10-14 on Day 3 and slipped to seventh, however roared again with that massive final-round catch of 29-3, which included an 8-pound fish.
All week, Downey fished the nice and cozy outflows of Salt Springs on the northwest facet of Lake George, upriver from Palatka. He caught all of his fish on a Storm Arashi Vibe lipless bait in a gold shade. After making an attempt numerous lipless baits, Downey surmised that the fish responded greatest to the Arashi Vibe’s extra refined presence.
“What extra are you able to ask for? It was simply insane on the market this morning — and to cap it off with an 8-pounder,” Downey stated. “Other than Day 2, it’s been a tremendous week.
“The (colder) circumstances lined up very well for me on Day 1 after which this morning was actually good for me too, with the cloud cowl.”
Masayuki Matsushita of Tokoname-Shi, Japan, completed third with 69-13 and is main the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the 12 months standings. After inserting forty first on Day 1 with 12-1, he bolted up the leaderboard to second after catching Day 2’s heaviest bag — 23-5. Matsushita added 17-7 on Day 3 and ended with a final-round restrict of 17 kilos.
Focusing totally on shallow cowl in Crescent Lake, Matsushita threw 1/4- and three/8-ounce variations of the Matsuraba swim jig that he designed for Deps. He used a brown craw coloured swim jig with a inexperienced pumpkin black fleck Deps twin tail trailer.
Matsushita additionally caught fish on a free rig — a Japanese innovation that employs a 3/16-ounce teardrop-shaped sinker hanging perpendicular to the road. He used this at the side of a Texas-rigged Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm in junebug and redbug colours.
“At this time, most of my fish have been on the swim jig,” Matsushita stated. “I caught possibly 10 keepers. I caught one large one — 4 1/2-pounder — on the free rig.”
Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., gained the $1,000 Phoenix Boats Huge Bass award for the 9-13 largemouth he caught Thursday.
Cox of DeBary, Fla., gained the $2,000 VMC Monster Bag standings for the occasion’s heaviest restrict.
Crews took house a further $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant within the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, whereas Cox additionally earned $2,000 for being the second-highest inserting entrant.
As a part of the Yamaha Energy Pay program, Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., earned a further $2,500 and Drew Prepare dinner of Cairo, Ga., claimed a further $1,500 for being the second-highest inserting entrant.