MASSENA — A face familiar to area fishing fans is the day one leader at the second stop of the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Northern Division on the St. Lawrence River.
Chris Johnston, who competed in Waddington last month with the Bassmaster Elite series, leads after Thursday’s opening round with a total catch of 25 pounds, 7 ounces.
Unlike the event in Waddington last month, competitors were allowed to use Canadian waters as well in Thursday’s event.
Johnston and his brother Cory, who is tied for second place (23-15), both secured top-five finishes last month in Waddington.
Chris Johnston, from Peterborough, Ontario, finished second and Cory, from Cavan, Ontario, finished fifth.
Electing not to make a giant run into Ontario for his fish, Chris Johnston stayed in the St. Lawrence River to get off on the right foot.
“Not that I don’t want a part of it, but I didn’t want to go today, because I had something else lined up,” Chris Johnston said.
“I’m probably going to go fish it again tomorrow and see if there’s anything left,” he added. “Tomorrow is supposed to be windy, so it’s not going to be a great day for the lake. If I need to I might go out there for an hour or so, but we’ll see what the wind is like, it might be a river day for me.”
One of the best at the 1000 Islands, Chris Johnston’s worst finish since 2016 on the fishery is third.
Typically, he’s done his best work out in the lake.
This time, it sounds like he’s got a chance to keep the river train rolling.
“I’ve been practicing the river because I keep getting burned here when the lake is off-limits,” he said.
“I’ve got a few spots in the river, I don’t know if I can get 25 again, but there’s some fish left.”
Plying a drop-shot with a secret bait, it sounds like Chris Johnston is on a roll.
“It was all deep, anywhere from 20 to 45 feet,” he said. “I caught a ton of fish, it was hard to get a big one. I never really had a kicker, they’re all clones. Out here now, a 5-pounder is honestly kinda average, you need a 6-pounder to get up and over.”
Justin Atkins and Cory Johnston both caught 23-15 and are tied for second.
Matt Becker is in fourth at 23-6.
1. Chris Johnston (25-7); 2T. Justin Atkins & Cory Johnston (23-15); 4. Matt Becker (23-6); 5. Brandon Marks (22-7); 6. Brian Latimer (22-2); 7. Jonathan Robla (22-1); 8. Scott Cooke (22-0); 9. Kurt Mitchell (21-14); 10. Darryl Esterly (21-10).