MONETA, Va. — John Crews doesn't believe in bad luck. Just bad execution.
The Virginian angler fished his way from a distant 89th place on Day One to 39th to 10th and ultimately finished in eighth place on the final day of the Blue Ridge Brawl presented by Advance Auto Parts.
"That first day was so frustrating for me," Crews said. "I knew where they were but just couldn't boat the big fish."
But Crews never got discouraged. Even with the added pressure associated with being the "local guy," Crews managed to regroup from the first day and stay focused.
Crews started the tournament at a spot he had known about for years. He hooked into a 3-pounder on a crankbait in his first few casts. But as he sped the fish closer to the boat and attempted to swing it onto the deck, the fish got loose. Perhaps he was overly excited or maybe it was the nerves, but Crews faulted himself harshly.
"I should have fought him and really tired him out, but I was just so fired up that I just tried to yank him into the boat quickly," Crews said.
For the remainder of Day One, he admitted to being scared to throw the crankbait.
The subsequent days, however, quelled those fears. Conditions forced him to revisit the crankbait, and he mixed it up by throwing the worm. Crews kept on the Blackwater side of the stream-fed lake, a side he knows best from fishing the lake from childhood, and he grew more successful and more confident by the day.
Kriet on personal privacy
Jeff Kriet was asked before the final weigh-in exactly why he didn't like spawn fishing, a key factor throughout the tournament.
"Man, if I was spawning, I wouldn't want anyone messing with me, would you?" Kriet asked the host.
The Oklahoma angler finished the tournament tied for 32nd place.
A zoo of a morning for Shimizu
According to Morizo Shimizu, he "has bad friends."
Fellow anglers who failed to make the final day cut found a giant, plastic giraffe head Saturday night and brought it back to Shimizu's room. Propping it against the Japanese angler's door, the fake animal was there to wish Shimizu good morning when he left for the lake around 4 a.m.
Dave Wolak's hideaway
Dave Wolak stayed away from the main lake for most of the final day.
"I stayed up at the top of the river because it was so clear and I hadn't hit it all week," he said.
Wolak had marked the spot on the first day and simply never had a chance to get to this hole. Wolak pulled a 10-pound day, good for 12th place, by throwing a little known craw called the "crawpappy."