CELEBRATION, Fla. — Anglers fishing the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series may have overlooked John Crews before the start of the 2006 season, but he's not just standing at the back of the line anymore. In fact, the quiet Virginian is definitely starting to make some noise.
Through the first three events of the inaugural season of the Bassmaster Elite Series, Crews has made the cut to 50 anglers all three times and posted two consecutive top 10 finishes. He has risen from 45th to eighth place in the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index, averaging 31 pounds, 7 ounces per tournament, and with his performance in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, Crews is batting a perfect four-for-four in making cuts in 2006.
"It's very satisfying for me," said Crews, 27, one of the youngest anglers in the Elite Series. "Finally, things are starting to go like they are supposed to go. I don't feel like it's been blind luck. I've had an idea of what was going on and a plan going into all of the tournaments this year."
Crews said he's improving his craft by better preparing for changes in weather and water conditions as well as gaining experience with each tournament. So far, it's working. He's third in the race for the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.
Crews has only fished BASS professionally for a few years and he has never won a top-level tournament, though he has finished in the money in 25 of his 42 appearances. His best finish — third place — came in late 2000 in the Florida Invitational at Lake Okeechobee. But he has qualified for the Classic two straight years and earned his way onto the Elite Series this year with increasingly consistent angling.
"I think it's a result of my style of fishing," said Crews. "I do a fair amount of power fishing, and I enjoy catching fish any kind of way, but the shallow crank bait, which I think I'm best at, lends itself to catching numbers of fish. Sometimes you get size, too, but you definitely get numbers."
A new concept in professional BASS fishing, the Elite Series matches 106 of the world's best anglers in an 11-event series, visiting some of America's top fisheries at the right times of the year to produce optimum fishing for competitors. In addition to prize money of more than $7.5 million, the Series is offering unprecedented levels of exposure for anglers and their sponsors on ESPN and in other media outlets.
Crews looks forward to the rest of the season as he closes in on his first BASS win.
"The level of competition on the Elite Series is what I expected," he said. "You have to bring your 'A' game every day, not just every week, but every day, to just compete."
Crews' sponsors include Advance Auto Parts, Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Lowrance Electronics, Gambler Lures, Spro Lures, Lunker Sauce fish attractor, Oakley Sunglasses and Minn Kota trolling motors.