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Lure Chat with John Crews

John Crews used plastics in hydrilla to win the Duel on the Delta. (Photo: BASS / Seigo Saito)

In this chapter of lure chat I talk with Elite Series pro John Crews about his recent win at the 2010 Duel in the Delta. I will ask the reader in advance to forgive my eccentric questions about psychology and statistics in the beginning of the interview—rest assured that we do talk lures and fishing before the interview ends.

As you read this, it is interesting to keep in mind that John had 18 keepers that weighed 72-06, narrowly defeating Skeet Reese who had 20 keepers weighing 72-05. This is one of the few Elite Series tournaments I can remember where the winner did not catch his limit on multiple days.

The cold-water conditions made fishing tough on the Delta for this tournament. Ordinarily the guy with a limit every day would have won, but John was on quality fish and stuck with them.

I caught John on his cell phone as he made the cross country trek from California back towards his home in Virginia.

Bo Crawford (bocraw): That is quite the drive for you when you are literally commuting coast to coast.

John Crews (crews): The drive doesn’t seem so bad with this blue trophy riding next to me in the truck.

Bocraw: John, I recently read somewhere that you felt confident in your fishing because you were in a good place mentally. What did you mean by that?

Crews: My nature is to have a positive attitude. About half way through the season last year, I realized that my attitude was not as positive as it usually is—I’m not saying I had a negative attitude; it was just that my positive level was maybe 80% of what it should be. Ish ( John’s friend Ish Monroe ) and I talked about it and made a conscious decision to think positive. That is what I did.

Bocraw: I asked you once if you ever applied Economics (John has a degree in Economics ) to fishing. You replied not so much Economics, but that you do find yourself thinking about Statistics as it applies to fishing. Were you referring to probabilities?

Crews: I do think about statistical probabilities. For example, as I drive down the road I am wearing my seatbelt. I know the chance of me having a wreck is minimal. But I can lower the chances of me getting hurt even more by wearing my seatbelt. Likewise, with fishing, it is extremely unlikely that something will go wrong with my trolling motor and negatively affect my tournament results. But if I carry a spare trolling motor with me to tournaments, the risk of the trolling motor harming my tournament results reduces even more.

Bocraw: Did your knowledge of probabilities help improve your mental attitude? In other words, did your familiarity with the law of large numbers give you confidence that if you kept getting high finishes that eventually you would win?

John's first fish came on a Lil John crankbait.

Crews: I did not word it exactly like that. But, yes, I thought of something similar along those lines. I looked at all those 2nd place finishes Aaron Martens and Tommy Biffle had as statistical anomalies. You knew it was only a matter of time before they were going to win. Likewise, the same line of thinking applies to me with my third place finish and other top ten finishes.

Bocraw: Well, I suppose I should ask you fishing question before my audience abandons me…Is fishing the California Delta basically like fishing the Potomac back home?

Crews: No–it is way different. The California Delta is a vast maze of channels. I guess the closest thing back east is the Louisiana Delta–but really the CA Delta is totally unique. To see the agriculture out there is amazing.

Bocraw: Also, I guess there are no sea lions in the Louisiana Delta.

Crews: Right. No sea lions coming in to eat the bass…

Bocraw: So what did you catch your fish on?

Crews: I caught my fish on three different lures, and they came in a sequence: The first keeper came on the Lil John Crankbait in Blood Red color. The next 13 or 14 keepers came on a Sweet Beaver in California 420 color, fished with a 1 oz tungsten weight. And on the last day I downsized to a Gambler DD Cricket in River Bug color, using a ¾ oz tungsten weight.

Bocraw: And you were just fishing the shallow running Lil John over hydrilla?

Crews: I was fishing it on a grass line out towards a main channel. Not the MAIN river channel, but a different main channel—it is hard to describe because there are so many different channels and turns in the Delta—but this was an old river channel or something.

Bocraw: And the rest of the fish?

Crews: The rest of the fish came from hydrilla in a dead end canal. (Apparently these are called “sloughs” out west, but I think we would describe these as dead end canals back east.) The hydrilla in that dead end canal grew deeper there than in other places I scouted in practice.

Most of John's fish came on a Sweet Beaver, California 420 color.

Bocraw: Why do you think the hydrilla was deeper there?

Crews: Mainly because the water was just deeper there…but also the current didn’t blow through that dead end canal like it did other places. The water just kind of rose and fell with the tides there without a strong push or pull pushing the hydrilla over.

Bocraw: And you just dropped your plastics in the hydrilla with the heavy weights?

Crews: Yep. I used a 1 oz weight for most of the tournament and downsized to a ¾ oz weight on the final day.

Bocraw: Did you peg the weights?

Crews: Yes, with bobber stops.

Bocraw: Are you sponsored by Reaction Innovations or Gambler?

Crews: No, I don’t have a soft plastics sponsor this year. I was just fishing with whatever I wanted to.

Bocraw: Is there anything else that you think our readers might like to know?

Crews: The first two days I was using 65 lb Vicious braid, and then I switched to 25 lb Vicious fluorocarbon for the final two days. I know I got more bites when I switched to the fluorocarbon.

Bocraw: Thanks for sharing with us John. The next Elite Series tournament is a lot closer to your home…

Crews: I’m not sure what conditions to expect at Smith Mountain Lake yet, but I am definitely looking forward to it!


  • BassFan.com and Bassmaster.com published articles that further detail John’s winning pattern.
  • Visit http://youtuble.com/johncrewsmissle for some entertaining videos featuring John.
  • As a result of this tournament, the following will be added to our Fantasy Fishing Prize Pack courtesy of Tackle Experts> 1 Spro Lil John Crankbait / Blood Red Color  >1 Package Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver 4.2 / California 420 Color  >  1 Package Gambler BB Crickets / Color TBD ( Not sure they still make River Bug)

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