Countdown to kickoff

John Crews

I sat down to put this column together and realized we’re close to the Super Bowl and just a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series season. So, we’ll call this one “Countdown to Kickoff.”

I’ve been spending my time getting my new Bass Cat Caracal STS rigged, wrapped and ready for the season. I have everything set up with my electronics, my Lithium Pros batteries, Power-Pole Blades and MOVE trolling motor. I also have my Mercury 250 ProXS broken in, but with it being winter here, there’s not much else I can do on the water – comfortably.

I’ve rigged my Cashion rods and organized my boxes with my SPRO, Missile Baits and Gamakatsu stuff, but I won’t be able to do much fishing until I leave for the season’s start. It seems the duties of running Missile Baits and other stuff around the house keep me busy enough. I’ve had to try and schedule time immediately prior to the first tournament to really run my gear through its paces and knock the “fishing rust” off before game day arrives.

I’ll leave a day or so early to head to the first events at Toledo Bend and Lake Fork. I’ll go out on a lake nearby to dial in the reels and make sure the pumps and accessories on the boat are all functioning properly. Of course, I’ll take that time to make sure my electronics are all completely fine-tuned for the start of the season. I’ve simplified my rigging a little bit this year, but I’ll go into that setup later.

One thing I’m grateful for is I don’t have to work too hard to get myself into “fishing shape.” Because I make my physical fitness a priority, I really just need to make sure I get accustomed to being on my feet for long stretches of time. Even with that, the show season in winter tends to get me ready so I get into fishing shape pretty quickly during practice for the first event. Being up and moving during these shows really helps build my stamina to stand in the boat all day.

I’d like to get started with the actual fishing earlier, but there’s a lot to do that keeps me busy. We’re always working on new stuff at Missile, like the Monster Jig we launched recently. I really believe that people will be surprised when they see what happens when they start fishing that jig. It turned out great and gets some great bites. We’re also working on something new for launch at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey in Tulsa in March.

I want to talk about my Caracal STS from Bass Cat for a second – my first take if you will. It is a really nimble and agile boat, and it has a really smooth ride when going over waves. It is a new hull for Bass Cat, and I really think Cody, Rick and the team at the plant did a great job with it; I can’t wait to use it in competition.

We’re heading to Toledo Bend and Lake Fork for the first two events, and I think they are really going to fish well. In fact, I really think our events will showcase the fisheries well. We’re fishing them at different time of the year than we usually do, and I think a lot of different approaches will make for very interesting events.

It should be fun, and I can’t wait to get started.