- John Crews is one of the hardest-working people in pro fishing. In addition to the nine-tournament Bassmaster Elite Series that keeps him crisscrossing the country from February to August, he is the founder and owner of Missile Baits — a company that seems to unveil a new buzzworthy lure on an annual basis. He’s also helped raise massive amounts of money for Autism Awareness through numerous platforms, including the sale of puzzle-piece bracelets that can be spotted throughout the crowd at every Elite Series weigh-in. There’s no such thing as “deserve” when it comes to winning an event as competitive as an Elite. But sometimes you see a guy’s name atop the final standings and think, “That just feels right.” This one feels right.
- There’s always some doom and gloom to be found in a near-miss second-place finish, but I choose to see Bob Downey’s second-place odyssey at the St. Johns as proof the third-year Elite is getting his legs underneath him. He landed 27-4 on Day 1 despite mechanical problems. Then he refused to completely spin out despite landing just one fish on Day 2 and a modest 10-pound limit on Day 3. He finished with a Championship Sunday catch of 29-3 and a final deficit of just 1-4 for his highest finish so far on the Elite Series. Consider this: Prior to this event, Downey had fished 47 rounds on the Elite Series and caught at least two bass in all but three of those rounds. If he’d caught two on Day 2 at the St. Johns, he’d likely be the owner of a blue trophy. But the occasional strikeout is all part of swinging for the fences.
- Sometime after returning to the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2020, Idaho pro Brandon Palaniuk decided he was going to stay through all four days of every Elite weigh-in, even if he didn’t make the semifinal or championship cut. On Sunday, he hung around once again to show respect for the anglers who’d beaten him — even with practice for another tournament set to begin just down the road in less than 24 hours. He’s a class guy who probably can’t fit all of his good karma points in the biggest storage compartment on his boat.
- Remember the old saying that “Japanese anglers can’t catch bass in Florida?” I don’t know where it came from. But from now on, anyone who utters it should add a side note about Elite Series rookie Masayuki Matsushita finishing third in an Elite at the St. Johns River with a four-day total weight that was anchored by a catch of 23-5 on Day 2.
- I’ve always referred to owls as the “superheroes of the outdoors.” They’re always watching us, even if we rarely know they’re there. Apparently, they can be super villains too. The one that tried to take a bass away from Connecticut pro Paul Mueller seemed to know exactly what he was doing, as if he’d done it many times before — and it made for one of the best GoPro videos I’ve ever seen.
Since life isn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows, click this link for 5 thoughts of gloom and doom from the AFTCO Elite at St. Johns River.