John Crews Keeps Lead on Day Three at 2022 Elite Series St Johns River

Power Pole

ALATKA, Fla. — You can’t win a Bassmaster Elite event with one fish, but a single bite transformed John Crews’ day and kept the veteran from Salem, Va., in the lead on Day 3 of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 3 ounces.

Crews opened the event with a Thursday limit of 28 pounds and held on to the lead on Friday with a limit of 17-3. He added a 13-pound limit Saturday — anchored by a crucial 6-pounder — and overcame a slow morning

2022 Elite Series St. Johns River Day Three Leader John Crews – photo courtesy Seigo Saito – Bassmaster

to head into Championship Sunday with a lead of just 3-1 over hard-charging John Cox of DeBary, Fla.

Breaking his pattern of starting in Rodman Reservoir, Crews spent his first hour fishing the main river, where he caught a small keeper on a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with a Missile Baits D Bomb in the bruiser (black/blue) color. Transitioning to the reservoir, he spent two unproductive hours before making a key transition.

“I fished the areas where I caught my fish the first day and I never had a bite,” Crews said. “I told my cameraman ‘We need to make a change, I’m going to go shallow. I think I can catch some small fish, fill out a limit and see what happens.’

“I made a run and when I set the boat down, I looked over and saw a clump of pads. The first flip was that 6-pounder. I pitched in there and when I reeled up, my line was zipping on out to the main channel.”

Bassmaster LIVE captured the entire sequence — including Crews’ clear expression of relief and encouragement.

“That let me know I made the right decision,” Crews said. “I just settled down, caught a limit and culled one in the vicinity.

“I feel like that fish had just moved up. When they just move up, they’re sitting there with their mouths open.”

Crews caught his big fish and one more on a Texas-rigged Missile Baits Quiver Worm. He caught the rest of his Rodman fish on a Zoom Fluke.

Crews said he’s not comfortable that enough fish have moved up shallow in Rodman to stake his final day on that pattern. He said he believes he can catch a couple shallow if he needs to salvage his day, but he may end up expanding his game plan for Championship Sunday.

With the final round forecast showing cloudy, windy and possibly rainy weather, Crews said the change might stimulate the Rodman bite — just not necessarily the shallow game.

“If we get that weather, I think the fish may go to biting,” he said. “Rodman’s a lot clearer than the river and a little weather would probably go a long way.”

After placing 57th on Day 1 with 9-6, Cox added 13-13 on Day 2 and rose to 38th. On Saturday, he electrified the weigh-in crowd with the tournament’s heaviest catch — a massive limit of 31-15, anchored by an 8-5, which pushed him into second with 55-2.

“I’m thrilled; I’ve been waiting to catch a 30-pound bag here,” Cox said. “Every time we’ve had an event here, whether it was the (St. Croix Bassmaster) Opens, or the Elites, I always knew that was possible. I was like ‘One of these days, it’s going to line up.’ Today it did. I’m so glad I made it into Semifinal Saturday.”

Running an hour south of Palatka, Cox fished a backwater area off the main river and focused his effort on shallow cover. With daytime highs and overnight lows rising significantly since Day 1, Cox knew a shoreward movement was imminent.

“When I pulled up today, there was a buck (smaller male bass) on every bed and I was like ‘Oh gosh,’” Cox said. “I kept trolling by them and then I ran into a big one, then another big one.”

Cox caught his fish on a black prototype Berkley craw bait rigged on a 3/0 Berkley Fusion Flipping Hook. He found his fish in a variety of habitat settings and one of those fish took an hour to entice.

Elite rookie Masayuki Matsushita of Tokoname-Shi, Japan slipped a spot to third with a three-day total of 52-13. After placing 41st on Day 1 with 12-1, he rose 39 spots to second after catching Day 2’s heaviest bag — 23-5. On Saturday, Matsushita added 17-7.

Spending his day in Crescent Lake, Matsushita caught three of his keepers on a free rig. A Japanese innovation, his rig comprised a Texas-rigged Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm (redbug color) with a teardrop shaped sinker hanging perpendicular to his line and a bobber stop keeping the weight within a limited range.

Matsushita caught the rest of his keepers on 1/4- and 3/8-ounce versions of the Deps Matsuraba swim jig that he designed. He used brown craw swim jigs and paired them with Deps twin-tail trailers in green pumpkin black fleck.

“I threw the swim jig in shallower water around wood and used a straight retrieve,” Matsushita said. “Maybe the fish were on spawning beds, I don’t know.”

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with the 9-13 largemouth he caught on Day 1.

Cox leads the VMC Monster Bag standings for the event’s heaviest limit.

Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, Minn., earned the $1,000 BassTrakk bonus for the most accurate weight reporting over the tournament’s first two days.

The Top 10 remaining pros will take off for Championship Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET from Palatka City Docks. The weigh-in will be held at Palatka Riverfront Park at 3:30 p.m., with the winning angler earning $100,000.

FS1 will broadcast live with the tournament leaders beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday. Live coverage can also be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms.

The tournament is being hosted by the Putnam County Tourist Development Council and Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC

2022 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

2022 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River 2/10-2/13
St. Johns River, Palatka  FL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  John Crews Jr          Salem, VA               15  58-03  100
Day 1: 5   28-00     Day 2: 5   17-03     Day 3: 5   13-00
2.  John Cox               DeBary, FL              15  55-02   99   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   09-06     Day 2: 5   13-13     Day 3: 5   31-15
3.  Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Shi JAPAN      15  52-13   98
Day 1: 5   12-01     Day 2: 5   23-05     Day 3: 5   17-07
4.  Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC         15  46-13   97
Day 1: 5   17-12     Day 2: 5   17-01     Day 3: 5   12-00
5.  Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN        15  46-09   96
Day 1: 5   12-12     Day 2: 5   18-01     Day 3: 5   15-12
6.  David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN           15  45-14   95
Day 1: 5   19-07     Day 2: 5   14-05     Day 3: 5   12-02
7.  Bob Downey             Hudson, WI              11  44-13   94
Day 1: 5   27-04     Day 2: 1   06-11     Day 3: 5   10-14
8.  Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR              15  42-13   93
Day 1: 5   22-00     Day 2: 5   13-05     Day 3: 5   07-08
9.  Drew Cook              Cairo, GA               13  42-12   92
Day 1: 3   04-00     Day 2: 5   21-11     Day 3: 5   17-01
10. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA              13  42-02   91
Day 1: 5   20-04     Day 2: 3   07-09     Day 3: 5   14-05
11. Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN             15  41-14   90  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-04     Day 2: 5   09-06     Day 3: 5   16-04
12. Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL           14  41-06   89  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 4   14-12     Day 3: 5   13-13
13. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          15  41-04   88  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   20-00     Day 2: 5   10-02     Day 3: 5   11-02
14. Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC            15  40-12   87  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-12     Day 2: 5   15-07     Day 3: 5   12-09
15. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA          14  39-13   86  $11,000.00
Day 1: 4   08-11     Day 2: 5   17-13     Day 3: 5   13-05
16. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY             15  39-12   85  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   12-12     Day 3: 5   14-03
17. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA            14  39-03   84  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   07-07     Day 2: 5   16-11     Day 3: 5   15-01
18. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO        15  38-14   83  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   08-12     Day 3: 5   15-13
19. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           14  38-11   82  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-10     Day 2: 5   11-12     Day 3: 4   12-05
20. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            13  38-09   81  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   18-04     Day 3: 3   07-01
21. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI            12  38-01   80  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-14     Day 2: 2   06-12     Day 3: 5   11-07
22. Bryan New              Saluda, SC              12  37-00   79  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-11     Day 2: 2   03-03     Day 3: 5   15-02
23. Jay Yelas              Turner, OR              15  36-06   78  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   12-11     Day 3: 5   09-15
24. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL          12  36-03   77  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-02     Day 2: 5   15-03     Day 3: 2   07-14
25. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC             15  35-15   76  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   13-00     Day 3: 5   11-01
26. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA 13  34-02   75  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   08-09     Day 2: 5   16-06     Day 3: 4   09-03
27. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA            13  34-01   74  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-13     Day 2: 5   13-01     Day 3: 3   09-03
28. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN        14  33-08   73  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 5   12-05     Day 3: 4   10-00
29. Buddy Gross            Chatanooga, TN          10  33-07   72  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   17-02     Day 2: 1   04-10     Day 3: 4   11-11
30. Wes Logan              Springville, AL         13  33-06   71  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-15     Day 2: 5   13-11     Day 3: 3   05-12
31. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL         14  33-00   70  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-07     Day 2: 5   10-02     Day 3: 4   09-07
32. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX          12  32-10   69  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-03     Day 2: 4   07-00     Day 3: 3   06-07
33. Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI       12  32-07   68  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   13-01     Day 2: 4   11-06     Day 3: 4   08-00
34. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX            11  32-05   67  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-15     Day 2: 3   05-08     Day 3: 3   07-14
35. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA 12  32-05   66  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   17-09     Day 2: 5   11-12     Day 3: 2   03-00
36. Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA           10  32-00   65  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-04     Day 2: 3   08-03     Day 3: 2   05-09
37. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ           12  31-15   64  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   16-00     Day 3: 2   02-14
38. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              11  31-09   63  $10,000.00
Day 1: 3   08-07     Day 2: 5   14-11     Day 3: 3   08-07
39. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              13  31-08   62  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   07-10     Day 3: 3   07-07
40. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX             12  30-07   61  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-02     Day 2: 5   12-09     Day 3: 2   03-12
41. Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               14  30-01   60  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   08-04     Day 2: 5   13-07     Day 3: 5   08-06
42. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN          11  29-13   59  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-04     Day 2: 5   14-07     Day 3: 1   03-02
43. David Williams         Newton, NC              12  29-03   58  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-11     Day 2: 4   10-12     Day 3: 3   06-12
44. Chad Pipkens           Dewitt, MI              12  28-10   57  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-00     Day 2: 2   02-06     Day 3: 5   07-04
45. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL            12  27-11   56  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-13     Day 2: 5   10-00     Day 3: 2   02-14
46. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK            12  24-08   55  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   10-14     Day 2: 5   10-01     Day 3: 2   03-09
47. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI            8  22-14   54  $10,000.00
Day 1: 2   09-08     Day 2: 5   12-03     Day 3: 1   01-03
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Brandon Cobb             Greenwood, SC       09-13      $1,000.00
2   Caleb Sumrall            New Iberia, LA      09-07      $1,000.00
3   John Cox                 DeBary, FL          08-05      $1,000.00

VMC MONSTER BAG
Day
3   John Cox                 DeBary, FL          31-15          $0.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        59       393      1045-09
2        50       363       887-09
3        24       184       480-11
———————————-
133       940      2413-13