CLAYTON — Cooper Gallant’s Day 2 limit of 25 pounds, 2 ounces was right about where his practice results indicated he would be Friday, but an unexpected Day 1 bonus positioned him to take the Day 2 lead of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Northern Open at the St. Lawrence River/1000 Islands.
Placing second on Day 1 with 27 pounds — 7 ounces behind first-round leader Cal Climpson — Gallant said he was surprised at that weight because he came into the tournament targeting the 25-pound mark. Topping the field with a two-day total of 52-2, the Bowmanville, Canada, pro enters today’s championship with a 1 1/2-pound lead over Bassmaster Elite angler Cory Johnston, who sits in second with 50-10.
“I had a pretty good bag today, but I didn’t see any of the big, big, big ones like those 6-pounders you’d like to have,” Gallant said. “If you can catch five 5s, you’ll be sitting pretty good. I ended up culling about four times and I had about 10 fish all day. I’m not getting many bites, but they’re the right ones.”
Gallant spent his day in Lake Ontario, not far from the mouth of the river. There he fished a drop shot with an unnamed bait over rocky bottom with isolated boulders on the Canadian side.
“The bigger fish are getting on the noticeably bigger boulders and then you also have big ones cruising the whole flat,” Gallant said. “I found when it’s calm and the sun’s out, they get on the boulders really good.”
Two months ago, Johnston finished fourth in the Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite event on the St. Lawrence. This week, the Canadian pro has been consistent with daily limits of 25-7 and 25-3.
“I ran similar stuff as I did yesterday; I started in the river and worked my way out to the lake and caught fish all day,” Johnston said.
Climpson slipped to third with 49-14. After starting with the event’s heaviest bag — 27-7 — the Cavan, Canada, angler added 22-7. Day 2, he said, required much more of a search effort.
“I had to run quite a bit of spots,” Climpson said. “Today, it wasn’t so much that the fish left; I just lost a few key fish.”
Targeting rocky bottom and boulders in 20-30 feet, Climpson again caught his fish on a drop shot with a 3/4-ounce weight. On Thursday, he rotated through three different baits. Friday, he had to increase his selection to five.
Andrew Upshaw of Hemphill, Texas, leads the Phoenix Boats Big Bass standings with a 6-13.
Zack Eggleston of Goleta, Calif., highlighted his summer visit with Upstate New York relatives by winning the co-angler division with 33-6. After placing third on Day 1 with 15-2, he added an eye-popping 3-fish limit of 18-4.
Eggleston tied Mathew Mccarthy of Marysville, Ohio, for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers. Both caught fish weighing 6-12.
Jonathan Kelley of Old Forge, Pa., leads the Northern Open points standings with 554. Mike Iaconelli of Pitts Grove, N.J., is in second with 549, followed by Alex Redwine of Blue Ash, Ohio, who is tied for second with 549, J.T. Thompkins of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is in fourth with 520 and Gallant is in fifth with 515.
Today’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. at the Antique Boat Museum. The weigh-in will be at the museum at 2:30 p.m.
Live coverage of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live with the tournament leaders from 8-11 a.m.
DAY 2 OVERALL LEADERS
Coop Gallant 52—2; Cory Johnston 50—10; Cal Climpson 49—14; Jonathan Kelley 49—2; Adam Neu 49—1; Dean Meckes 48—12; Timmy Thompkins 48—10; Gary Adkins 48—5; Chris Johnston 47—7; Brad Leuthner 46—10.