Johnston Looks to Bring First Bassmaster Elite Tournament To Canada
BY DAVE SHEA
WADDINGTON - The Toronto Raptors won Canada's First NBA Championship this Spring.
On Friday, fishing in sight of his native country on the St. Lawrence River, Chris Johnston moved to the halfway point of delivering an historic first Bassmaster Elite Series championship to the land of the Maple Leaf.
Johnston of Peterborough, Ont. weighed in 22 pounds and 13 ounces of smallmouth for a two-day total of 47-13 and a 15-ounce lead of Alabama angler Steve Kennedy (46-5) in the 2019 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Black Velvet.
New Jersey pro Greg DiPalma stands in a solid third at 45-1 with Ray Hansdelman Jr. of Texas at 44-10 and Bill Lowen of Indiana rounding out the top five at 44-7.
Brian Snowden landed the Phoenix Boats big bass of the day at 5-13 and moved into sixth place at 44-7.
Both Johnson and Kennedy have spent the first two days meticulously sight fishing in shallow water and both expressed their concern that the bass numbers in their spots may be dwindling and that predictions of rain could necessitate a change in approach.
“I didn’t get a lot of bites today and only caught six or seven 4-pound fish there. And I never saw a kicker fish. So, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to scramble tomorrow," said Johnston.'
" I really believe the guy that wins this event is going to be the one who makes the best adjustments on the fly. I just hope I can figure out those adjustments.”
"I had to sneak up on the fish and I am living on the edge. A caught a 5-6 and a 5-5 today but I am only fishing for seven or eight bites a day," said Kennedy whose 6-2 smallmouth caught on day one leads the race for tournament lunker.
"If the weather report is accurate and we get overcast skies tomorrow, I might have to change my game plan.”
One thing that won't change is his love for the St. Lawrence River and his respect for Chris Johnston.
"I love fishing rivers whether it be a river in Northern New York or one in Alabama. But Chris is going to be very tough to beat" said Kennedy.
"But this place is just awesome and I tell people they have to get up here and fish this river."
While the leaders are cautiously optimistic heading into day three Greg DiPalma says he is "very comfortable" fishing in 20-30 feet of water in the St. Lawrence which he calls a "very, very special place."
"There are a bunch of bass there, so I’m confident I can duplicate my weight," said DiPalma.
Louisiana pro Caleb Sumrall, weighed in 23-6 for the biggest limit of the day and charged from the buble of the weekend cut to 11th place at 41-13.
"I figured it out late on day one and it has been a grind," said Sumrall.
"Bur I am going fishing and I am really fired up man."