BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Salem’s John Crews had by far his best finish in the Bassmaster Classic, ending up in sixth place on Sunday in the 50th edition of the bass fishing circuit’s premier event.

Crews, who made the top-25 cut for the final day of competition for just the fourth time in the 12 Classics he’s qualified for, had a three-day catch total of 53 pounds, 13 ounces. It was a little more than 11 pounds behind tournament winner Hank Cherry Jr. of Lincolnton, North Carolina, who took a commanding lead after the first day and ended up with a total of 65-5.

Crews, whose best Classic finish before Sunday was 16th place in 2008, was in second place after the first day, but slipped to third after two days and then fell to sixth — although a 6-10 bass he hooked on Sunday was the biggest fish of the day.

Crews has had increased success in the past year and half, with five top-10 finishes since June 2018. Before that, he had not reached that threshold since 2016.

Crews, who pocketed $22,000 for his efforts, had finished second in a Bassmaster Elite event near Palatka, Florida, in February. He also had a pair of fifth-place finishes in Bassmaster Elite events in 2019.

After the first day, Crews was the only other angler besides Cherry to have more than 21 pounds hooked. His total fell to just under 17 pounds on Saturday and was about a pound less on Sunday.

The event was held on Lake Guntersville, which is about 90 minutes northeast of Birmingham.

Cherry earned the tournament title and the $307,500 check that comes with it in his fifth appearance in the tournament.

Cherry’s best finish before Sunday was in 2013, when he finished third — that result coming after losing a big fish after hooking it.

“I felt some redemption,” Cherry said of closing the deal.

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