Canadian Cory Johnston comes on strong to capture first Bassmaster fishing title

NEW YORK — Canadian Cory Johnston has his first Bassmaster tournament title.

The angler from Cavan, Ont., captured the Bassmaster Northern Open at St. Lawrence River/1000 Islands event Saturday.

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Johnston's five-fish limit weighed 27 pounds, six ounces to give him a three-day total of 78 pounds. Johnston, a veteran of the Bassmaster Elite Series, finished 13 ounces ahead of opening-day leader Cal Climpson, also of Cavan, to earn the US$43,333 top prize.

Johnston entered the final day of competition second overall, just 1.5 pounds behind Cooper Gallant, of Bowmanville, Ont. But Johnston said his familiarity with the area – which annually stages Elite Series tournaments – was crucial.

"I have a lot of spots out on Lake Ontario," he said. "I only pre-fished for about two days out here.

"I just know this place so well, but it’s burnt me so many times. I caught a ton of fish and I caught a lot of big fish. It just goes to show you what an incredible fishery we have here, so we have to look after this place."

Gallant's final-day weight was 21 pounds, four ounces to leave him fourth overall at 73 pounds, six ounces. Johnston's brother, Chris, was seventh with 71 pounds, three ounces.

Cory Johnston completed his third season on the Elite Series and has finished in the money in 32-of-34 career events. He's yet to win on the circuit, having finished second once and third four times.

In July, he was fourth at Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite event at the St. Lawrence River.

"It feels good to win one here," Johnston said. "The U.S. side of this place has had my number. (Canadian waters were closed during both Elite events).

"It feels good to get the monkey off my back and I can’t wait to get back here for the Elite next year."

With Canadian waters open for this event, Johnston fished both sides of the river and Lake Ontario. On the first two days he started in the river and worked his way to the lake but Saturday stuck with the latter and found fish over various rock structure in 18-to-42 feet.

"I just had a milk run and I worked my way out," he said. "I started at the closest spot, worked my way out to the farthest spot and then came in.

"I spent my day in the lake because the way the wind was blowing I could stay sheltered a little bit. There was a point way up the lake and that sheltered me a little."

Climpson opened the tournament with 22 pounds, seven ounces before slipping to third. On Saturday, his limit weighed 27 pounds, five ounces for an overall total of 77 pounds, three ounces.

"I was seeing a lot of my fish on (electronics)," Climpson said. "I caught my big one (six pounds, eight ounces) at the end of the day.

"It swam right under the boat, I dropped on it and caught it."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2021.

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