John Crews: The One that Got Away

My story is from this year. It's a tough one, because this one fish may have ended my career.

John Crews

About the author

John Crews

John Crews

Virginia pro John Crews has notched 18 top 10 finishes and is a 1-time Elite Series champion.

You lose a lot of fish in tournaments, and I'm no exception. I've gotten over all of them except one, and this one was in a tournament on Lake Murray with another national circuit back in 2004.

 After two days, I was on good fish and on my way to my first national bass tournament win. I was throwing a crankbait on the third day when a big fish hit. It was at least 5 pounds, closer to 6 pounds. After the strike, I kept good pressure on the fish; I knew it was hooked. He ate the whole bait then started swimming for the shallows.

 As the fish swam, I felt him coming up to jump. I kept pressure on it and as it jumped, I saw the fish's mouth open and the crankbait shoot back toward me. Somehow the fish didn't have a single hook in it! The crankbait plopped harmlessly in the water and the fish swam free. I was stunned at how that could have happened.

 I ended up losing the tournament by 2 1/2 pounds. That big fish would've let me cull a 1 1/2-pounder and moved me from third to first easily.

 I still think about it from time to time, and have replayed it in my head hundreds of times. As I reflect on that fish, there isn't a single thing I would've done differently. There was no slack in the line when the fish jumped, and there was no way I could have done anything better than I did. It was one of those freak one-in-a-million things that happened at the exact wrong time.

 That fish taught me that this can be a cruel, cruel sport and that you don't get a ton of opportunities to win. When you do get a chance to win, you have to focus and not let anything get in your way.

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