Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Crews, Lefebre Headed To 2nd Championship
Virginia's John Crews and Pennsylvania's Dave Lefebre are two of the FLW Tour's rising stars. Both are charismatic young guys with a bad case of fishing fever. At the same time, they're cagey strategists who generally have several tricks up their sleeves by the time a tournament gets started.
Dave Lefebre won his first tour event this year, on Old Hickory.
For just the second time in their young careers, these anglers are getting ready to fish a major championship – in this case the FLW Tour Championship, where $500,000 is up for grabs. Are they stoked? You bet.
"I loved fishing it last year (on the James River) in front of a hometown crowd," Crews said. "Being in it makes you want to never miss it. I want to have a shot at all of them."
Lefebre is similarly excited. "I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I think I'll be able to concentrate a little better maybe (having experienced the Championship before). And it will be a little different, not having to worry about the rookie thing I was dwelling on last year."
Crews also noted that having "been there, done that" once will help this time around. "The more experience you have fishing a big-money or high-pressure event, the better you can handle it and keep your focus," he said. "You can tune out distractions more."
Logan Martin A New Experience
Though the Bassmaster Classic has been held on Logan Martin three times, this is the first time FLW has been there. Crews has seen the lake just once, about 3 weeks ago. "I just rode around, mostly," he said. "I wanted to see what the water looked like (nice fishable stain, full pool), and what cover and structure were there (just about everything but offshore grass). I like the looks of it. It's a good-sized body of water, and you can catch fish a lot of different ways, so the 48 guys should be able to spread out.
"I think pretty much everybody will find something they're comfortable doing," he noted. "Whatever your strong suit is, you should be able to catch fish how like you like to. I think multiple patterns will be necessary to win, and probably spotted bass will play a role but I don't know if it will be a dominant one. There will probably be some mixed bags every day."
Lefebre has never been to Logan Martin. "All I know about it is what I've seen watching old Classics and things like that," he said. "I have a basic clue of what to expect, but I don't have any buddies who fish it to tell me anything. I'll just treat it like the other tournaments."
On the Coosa River spotted bass factor, Lefebre said: "I hear they catch them just like the largemouths there. You really don't target them specifically. If I catch one, that'll be cool."
He plans to look for concentrations of bass, of either species, based more on location or pattern than on species-based qualities.
Approach to Practice
Everybody has their own way to practice for a tournament. Some FLW anglers spend as much as 2 weeks on the water, while others feel like more than 3 days is overdoing it. Crews is comfortable with "5 days for most lakes. That's just about right for me," he said. But for the championship, "I plan to start practicing on Tuesday, and I'll spend 7-8 days there."
John Crews got a good taste of the FLW Tour Championship last year, when he finished 8th.
He noted that the extra time shouldn't work against him since "most of the patterns are more stable" in summer.
Lefebre likes a shorter practice too, about 4 days, but he plans to spend a week or so on Logan Martin before the Championship starts. He said that's mostly because he was already at the Classic in Charlotte, N.C. working the Yamaha booth, "so I'll just drive over (to Logan Martin)," he said. "I'll spend maybe 5 days practicing, a little more than I usually do. I'll target the deep fish more in practice, and if it doesn't happen then I'll go shallow. I'm looking for the motherlode deep. Shallow fish change every day. I may spend the last day looking shallow."
Crews finished 13th in the FLW points, and Lefebre was right behind him, in 14th. Under the bracket format that the FLW Tour uses for its championship, that means they will start on opposite sides of the ladder and won't fish directly against one another unless they: 1) win their first-round 2-day match-ups; 2) also win their second-round (day 3) match-ups; and 3) their day 3 weights land them in the Top 12.
On the bracket format, Crews said, "It's fun and it makes it interesting, especially for the fans. Sometimes guys who are on good fish kind of get penalized, but I look at it that I only have to beat 13 guys to win half a million bucks."
Lefebre's said: "You kind of have to win three tournaments in a row. I'll fish hard every day. I'm not sure you can save fish in a format like that."
Crews will face Tom Mann, Jr. in the first round, and Lefebre will fish against local angler Greg Pugh. "But we're really fishing against the fish," Crews said. True, but as all BassFans know, sizing up the competition is still one piece of the tournament bass fishing puzzle.
> David Dudley won last year's FLW Tour Championship and took home a cool half a million bucks. Crews has fished against him for years, starting back in Virginia on local circuits. "I told Dudley I was going to beat him in the second round," Crews said, assuming both he and Dudley win their first pairings. "The trash talk has started. We're buddies so it's all in fun. But I do want to win."
> When asked if the tailrace below Neely Henry dam will play a part (Logan Martin is one reservoir upstream from Lay Lake, where Jay Yelas won the Classic 2 years ago fishing in the tailrace), Crews said it has potential, but is limited. "Three or four boats would be crowding it," he noted. "There may be just five good banks up there. It's a 40-mile run, but somebody will probably do it, at least one day."
> Competitors in the FLW Tour Championship have some old data they can research on national tournaments held on Logan Martin. The Bassmaster Tour has been there four times: the 1992 Classic (won by Robert Hamilton Jr.), 1993 Classic (David Fritts), the 1997 Classic (Dion Hibdon) and the 1998 Top 150 (Stephen Browning). The Classics were all hot summertime tournaments, while the Top 150 event was a fall tournament.