Winner, top three and four of top eight finishers running Cats
PALATKA, Fla. – The Bass Cat Boats pro staff excelled at the season-opening Bassmaster Elite Series on Florida’s St. Johns River, with Virginia veteran John Crews leading the tournament from wire-to-wire, and four of the top eight competitors fishing out of Bass Cats. Third-year Elite Bob Downey of Minnesota made it a close race and finished second and rookie Masayuki Matsushita of Japan made it three-for-three at the top of the leaderboard. Accomplished pro Stetson Blaylock, by no means a rookie but a new addition to the Bass Cat team, was 8th.
After amassing a monstrous first day bag, Crews adjusted each subsequent day to stay on top of the fish and ahead of his peers. He won the tournament out of one of the first Puma STS models to leave the factory, in his first tournament with the new boat.
“The STS is probably the best all-around bass boat I’ve ever driven,” he said. “It’s the perfect combination of speed, ride and layout. Between that and my Mercury Outboard and my Power Poles, I never had a single issue all week. Everything was completely dialed in from the beginning.”
Indeed, Crews fished several different styles throughout the tournament, and demonstrated a profound understanding of the changing moods of major river systems.
“The Crews Missile hit hard this week,” said Bass Cat Boats President Rick Pierce. “We are proud for John and his family and proud that we made the mutual decision over a decade ago to bring him into the Bass Cat family. He is an excellent angler and accomplished businessman with many Classic berths. It seems overdue on this win and it’s one our Bass Cat owners were pleased to see for him. He’s well connected to our owner base as an example of someone who ‘does things the right way’ and they pull for him.”
Downey’s Day Four run was marked by a tremendous flurry of activity just before 9am, and he eventually culled up to 29-03, showing the volume and power of his boat’s livewells. His primary tool in notching his best Elite finish was a Storm Arashi Vibe.
Matsushita also produced a monster limit – 23-05 on Day Two – using a variety of techniques including a swim jig and a “Free Rig.” He may be a rookie, but the winner of the 2020 Central Open at Sam Rayburn showed that he has nerves of steel and an ability to compete effectively anywhere that big bass swim.
Blaylock, who has not yet turned 35, will compete in his third Bassmaster Classic next month after qualifying for the FLW Forrest Wood Cup an amazing 11 times. In his first tournament as a Bass Cat pro he earned his best Elite finish since October of 2020, and his best BASS finish on the St. Johns in four tries.
“All of us are extremely proud of the group of anglers that we’ve put together,” said Pro Staff Manager Kevin Short, a former Elite Series pro. “As they’ve all proven previously and then again this week, they certainly know what they’re doing on the water. More importantly than that, they’re all passionate about the product and exceptional representatives of what a pro angler should be.”
The Bass Cat family continues to celebrate the win. Crews has been overwhelmed by the congratulatory texts from all over the world, and said that this victory validated his already-stellar career. “Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place for no reasons,” he stated. “It shows that my first win was no accident.”
Pierce spoke on behalf of the whole family when he said that he’s anxious to see what these anglers and the rest of the team can do this week on the Harris Chain, and throughout the remainder of the tournament season.
About Bass Cat: Bass Cat, owned by Correct Craft, manufactures the industry’s premier bass fishing boats from its headquarters in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Family operated since its founding in 1971, Bass Cat is the longest continuously operating tournament bass boat company in the United States. For more information visit www.basscat.com.
About Correct Craft: Celebrating 97 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a Florida-based company with global operations. Focused on “Making Life Better,” the Correct Craft family includes Nautique, Centurion, Supreme, Bass Cat, Yar-Craft, SeaArk, Parker, and Bryant boat companies, Pleasurecraft Marine Engine Group, Watershed Innovation and Aktion Parks. For more information please visit www.correctcraft.com