Johnston dominates BASS tournament

by Editorial Staff | April 23, 2024
Cory Johnston Bassmaster tournament trophy
Cory Johnston won the Maxam Tire Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. (Photo by Andy Crawford/Bassmaster Elite Series)

Cavan’s Cory Johnston dominated the Maxam Tire Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida, seizing his first tournament victory on Sunday, April 21 with an impressive four-day haul of 93 pounds, six ounces.

The 21-pound, two-ounce margin of victory over Brad Whatley was the second largest in Bassmaster history, officials stated. In fact, Johnston’s day three total of 73 pounds, 13 ounces would have edged the Texan’s tournament total of 72 pounds, four ounces.

“Everyone who fishes these tournaments dreams of winning one of these blue trophies,” stated Johnston, who won a $101,000 top prize. “I don’t know what to say; it was just one of those weeks that was absolutely incredible … People say, ‘When it’s your time, it’s your time.’ This week, I couldn’t do anything wrong.”

Johnston placed second on day one with 23 pounds, three ounces, before taking the lead with a second-round catch of 27 pounds, eights ounces, and held on to the top spot with a Semifinal Saturday limit of 23 pounds, two ounces.

With a trio of second-place Elite finishes (Lake St. Clair 2020, St. Lawrence River 2022 and 2023), Johnston said that finally closing an Elite win was hugely rewarding.

“It’s been five years (on the Elites) and I’ve been so close so many times,” he stated. “To finally get it done, I can’t even describe it.”

Flipping was wise decision

Johnston’s success during the week came from flipping various worms and creature baits and drop-shotting a finesse worm while targeting bed fish in Salt Springs, which runs off the northwest side of Lake George. On day four, he sensed his main pattern was dwindling, so he started flipping spatterdock (pads) on the main river. This produced a couple of his limit fish, including his biggest catch at seven pounds, 12 ounces.

“I managed my fish well and made good decisions,” Johnston said. “Flipping pads today was probably the best decision, in my mind, that I could’ve made.”

Johnston’s brother Chris of Peterborough finished fifth with a total of 70 pounds, while Bowmanville’s Cooper Gallant ranked 31st with 41 pounds, one ounce, and Kenora’s Jeff Gustafson finished 101st with 15 pounds, five ounces.

For more information on the tournament, click here

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