Sight fishing key for young Canadian. (Photo: BASS)
the weeks leading up to the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River,
brothers Chris and Cory Johnston insisted the Florida fishery reminded them a
lot of the waters they grew up fishing back home in Canada.
Those who may
have doubted them know better now.
who had fished a grand total of four B.A.S.S. events prior to this week, caught
five bass during Friday’s round that weighed 25 pounds, 11 ounces and took the
lead in the season-opening Elite event with a two-day total of 47-0.
Lee Livesay of
Texas is second with 46-2, followed by Mark Menendez of Kentucky (45-14),
Brandon Cobb of South Carolina (42-14) and Rick Clunn of Missouri (41-0).
who has teamed with his brother to dissect the fishery for months, caught 21-1
himself Friday and moved into sixth place at 41-0.
“I just hope I’m
a couple of ounces ahead of him after tomorrow and then hopefully again on
Sunday,” Chris said of his brother. “We always have a rivalry between us. We’re
always trying to beat each other for bragging rights.
“I’ve got a little lead on him now, and hopefully I can carry it through the
rest of the week.”
Chris said he’s
been fishing for mixture of bedding bass that he can’t see and prespawn fish
that are still working their way onto the beds. Like most of the field, he
expects the weather to be a factor on Saturday, when the forecast calls for a
shift from the sunny, clear conditions of the past two days to somewhat cooler
temperatures and 10- to 20-mph winds.
affect me, but I think everyone’s in the same boat,” Johnston said. “I went
around looking today for three or four hours, marked a few fish and saw a
couple of areas I like. If Plan A fails, I’ll go to Plan B.”
caught 19-12 on Day 1, got off to a fast start Friday, putting 12 pounds in his
livewell in less than 15 minutes. Once that area started receiving pressure, he
began checking out new fishing areas and put together a five-bass limit that
“I got on a
little pattern and caught a big one in a spot,” he said. “Then I thought the
same thing should work in another spot — and sure enough, I caught another big
Then, as strange as it sounds, he basically started fishing where he didn’t
expect to catch a bass.
“It’s gonna be
so weird tomorrow with this weather coming in, and I didn’t want to burn any 2-
or 3-pounders that might help me a lot,” he said. “So I just went to some water
I’d never even looked at and caught a 5-pounder.”
caught 24-8 Thursday, added 21-6 Friday and held on to third place with 45-14.
He scored early in the day with a 6-pounder that he wasn’t really expecting to
“That’s a spot
where I’ve always caught 2- to 4-pounders,” Menendez said. “So when you pull up
there and catch a 6-pounder, you’re thinking, ‘Well, giddy-up, it’s gonna be a
A slight shift
in technique helped Menendez to his quick start, but then he went back to the
same tactics he used on Day 1 — tactics he’s not quite ready to discuss.
“I had to change baits today, and the change gave me the bites early so I could
slow down and fish really thorough,” Menendez said. “Then during the afternoon,
I went back to what I caught them on Thursday and got into another one of those
big ones, a 5-plus, and another one that was about 4 pounds.
Fourth and fifth
place represent the age diversity on this year’s Elite Series, with the
29-year-old Cobb leading the 72-year-old legend, Clunn, by less than 2 pounds.
Cobb caught 23-1 Friday to push his mark to 42-14, while the seemingly ageless
Clunn caught 23-11 to lift his two-day total to 41-0. Clunn won his 15th
Bassmaster title on these same waters when the Elite Series last stopped here
Cory Johnston is
tied statistically with Clunn for fifth place, but is credited for sixth place
because Clunn has had the bigger single-day bag of the two and won the
Cory said he’s
not conceding anything to his brother — or anyone else.
“No one wants to be behind his brother,” he said. “The competition that we have
amongst ourselves and our friends, that’s bigger than anything. So I just want
to beat him.
“I’ll be out
there trying to win.”
will resume Saturday with the Top 35 remaining anglers taking off from Riverfront
Park at 7:30 a.m. ET. The weigh-in will be back at the park at 4:10 p.m., with
only the Top 10 anglers advancing to Championship Sunday with a chance to win
the $100,000 first-place prize.
Clifford Pirch wowed the weigh-in crowd with a 10-4 trophy largemouth, but
Virginia angler John Crews still leads the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass with
the 11-2 largemouth he caught Thursday.