Watch an exclusive interview with bass fishing pro John Crews taped at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Glenn May, founder of BassResource.com, asked him some intriguing questions about tournament fishing you'll only see here!
Glenn: With John Crews at the Bassmaster Classic, it is your fourth visit here to the Classic, so this is old hat to you now, isn't it?
John Crews: It is. it's all about doing well here, the first Classic or two, being there is really a big part of it, and actually making it to the Classic is a big part of it. But after that, I enjoy making the Classic the past couple of years, but now, I really want to get a chance to win it, I want to be in the game.
Glenn: And being up with elite anglers, that's quite an accomplishment. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started into tournament angling, and how you took it from there to make it to this level?
John: When I was in college, I really started to get a little more serious about fishing tournaments, and it went basically from being a hobby to more of a passion, and then when I was in college I was batting around some career options, and I said, this might be a cool career. I really might enjoy it.
And that was about the same time I started to do well in some of the tournaments, and got a little bit more consistent, and thought I might have the talent that it takes and so forth. So I really started delving in and diving into what it takes and as soon as I graduated from college, I started fishing full-time, and I think my second or third Bassmaster tournament, I came in third and won a boat, and that really gave me the nest egg I needed to keep moving up the ladder.
Glenn: So if somebody's just starting out and they're looking to you and they see you in the Classic, and they want to make it to this level, what kind of advice would you give them?
John: There's a lot of things, I mean, you could go on for an hour. There's no one set way to do it, there's no one set way to make a career out of it, some guys go different directions. Now, you've got BASS and then you've also got FLW -- you can make a career out of either one. I chose BASS for what I wanted, it gave me more options with my career, more options to make my name more known. I got that Little John crankbait from SPRO, it gives you those kinds of options, whereas usually on FLW, you don't get a lot of those kind of doors open.
So that's why I chose bass, and my advice to somebody would to pick one or the other, and then dedicate yourself to becoming a better angler, and also get everything you need in line to do the business side of it, and that's pretty in depth.
Glenn: Let's talk a little bit about on the water, like when you're preparing for a tournament like this, and you're pre-fishing, what exactly are you looking for and how do you go about doing that?
John: With a lake this size, there's numerous patterns that are going on in the pre-spawn. When I realized that, I got excited, because I like fishing multiple patterns, and if there's one, like on some lakes when they're schooling, all you do is fishing topwater. Everybody’s kind of doing the same thing. I like this, where a lot of guys are doing a lot of different things. My guess is, there's going to be about fifteen guys that have within four or five pounds of each other at the top of the leader board.
So, I think it's going to be very excited to watch. And out of those fifteen guys at the top of the leader board, there's going to be, at a minimum, six or eight different patterns going on. Some fish will be coming three, four feet deep; some fish will be coming 15 feet deep, so it's going to be really cool to watch.
Glenn: So in pre-fishing, you're looking for a specific pattern, not so much a location?
John: I'm looking for both. One spot can lead you to a pattern, and if you kind of analyze that spot and then keep fishing, and if you can find another one like it, sometimes you might just find a good spot, period. There's not much pattern to it, it's just a good spot. It's a place that the fish might be using to transition in certain areas and there's nothing like it. So, I’m looking for both, really.
Glenn: So, during the tournament, you're on the lake, and you're on a really good spot and it dies down on you -- at what point do you decide to move on to another spot, or do you think in your head maybe if you move, someone else will move in on that and it will fire up again, or what goes on in your mind when you decide to move?
John: When I'm on a spot that I know it's a good location, and I've fished it fairly thoroughly and I don't get any bites, usually I'll leave and come back a little bit later. If it's a good spot and it's a place that fish use to feed, they might not be up feeding at that time, they might leave and then come back, and so I might do that same thing, so I might leave and then see if they come up to feed and try to catch them, pick them off.
If somebody beats me to it, they beat me to it. I don't worry about that anymore. And if somebody's fishing it, I might go fish something else and come back, wait till they're done. I used to get all bent out of shape when somebody was fishing a place I wanted to fish, but now I basically see it as that they're in my way. It's like, "Would you just get out of the way and let me fish it again?", because more than likely I'm going to fish it different than they did.
Glenn: Okay. Let's talk about the tournament rules. Now every year they change them just a little bit, to try to improve the situation, but there's always room for improvement.
Glenn: If you had control and could change one tournament rule, what would that be?
John: My number one rule change would be not really a rule change, it would be a format change. I wouldn't have any co-anglers in the boat. I think we should have observers. I think that would really elevate our sport and help differentiate what we're doing from either any other trail or make it closer to other sporting events. You don't see amateurs on the basketball court when you're watching NBA. Everybody understands what I'm saying when I relate it to another sport. You don't see some weekend golfer out there playing in the same foursome as Tiger Woods. It would be an insult to him.
So, why do we have guys in our boat that are affecting the outcome of our tournaments with us? I think, for the long term, we need to find a way to eliminate the guy fishing out of the back. I think it's a great deal to have somebody with you, because it's a perfect opportunity for them to learn from guys that do it for a living. So, I think we need to still have guys in the boat, but not guys that we're fishing against.
Glenn: I see. That makes sense. So, I want to give you a moment to, what I call it's a shameless plug moment -- give you the platform and you can say anything you want, promote anything you want to, or just say hi to your friends and family, whatever you'd like.
John: I designed this crankbait from SPRO called the Littlejohn, it's a really awesome little crankbait. I think it's going to play a factor this week for me. We're already designed a deeper running one, and I know that we're going to sell a ton of those. I've gotten a ton of positive feedback on the crankbait -- guys buying and then come back and telling me that they've caught this many fish or that many fish, I had one guy say he caught them ridiculous just two or three days ago on the bait. So, I think it's a neat bait and everybody should give it a shot.
Glenn: All right, well, I hope you have a great shot at the tournament. Matter of fact, I think you're going to win it, just my own vote, but congratulations, I'll just tell you right now, John, if I can. But thank you very much for being with us today.
John: Yes sir, thank you.