SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Steady, gradual improvement paid off nicely for Canadian Cooper Gallant on Saturday.
Gallant, of Bowmanville, Ont., finished third in the Bassmaster Northern Open tournament at Oneida Lake. Gallant had a final-day weight of 18 pounds 15 ounces to finish with a three-day total of 53 pounds seven ounces and secure US$17,760.
American Casey Smith finished first with an overall weight of 55 pounds 13 ounces and claimed the $52,300 top prize.
Gallant opened the event with a weight of 16 pounds 15 ounces before coming in on the second day with 17 pounds nine ounces. Gallant, who won the Bassmaster Southern Open on Tennessee's Cherokee Lake in April, concentrated on a main-lake flat with clumps of grass in 12 feet (3.66 metres) of water.
His approach of choice was a drop shot rig with an XZone hotshot minnow he threw to fish he first found on his Garmin LiveScope electronics.
"Practice was super up and down, so to come in here and get a top-10, that was my goal," Gallant said. "I caught them on the same bait I used on Cherokee.
"I was LiveScoping and dropping it on their heads."
A drop shot rig consists of line tied to a hook with a trailing leader that has a weight tied at the end. When the presentation is cast out, the weight goes to the bottom with the hook and weight above it and within striking distance of the fish.
Saturday's event is one of nine Opens being held this year in three divisions (Northern Central and Southern) that anglers can participate in to secure a berth in the Bassmaster Elite Series, which is the top pro bass fishing series. Gallant's plan this year is to fish in all nine tournaments in order to become the fourth full-time Canadian on the Elite Series.
Gallant is aiming to join Cory Johnston, of Cavan, Ont., his brother, Chris, of Peterborough, Ont., and Jeff Gustafson, of Kenora, Ont., on the Elite series next year. Dave Mercer of Port Perry, Ont., the entertaining host of Dave Mercer’s Facts of Fishing TV show, is also a master of ceremonies at Elite Series competitions.
Gallant's victory in April qualified him for the '23 Bassmaster Classic, the circuit's premiere and richest event (US$1 million) which will be held March 24-26 at the Tennessee River.
The Johnstons and Gustafson have all competed in the last three Classics. Chris Johnston was fifth at the '22 event at South Carolina's Santee Cooper Lakes, the best-ever finish by a Canadian.
Gallant is certainly within casting distance of an Elite Series berth as he's currently second in the overall Open standings with 807 points, just 19 points behind American John Soukup. The top-three finishers in each division as well as the overall standings qualify for the Elite Series.
Gallant is coming off a successful ‘21 season that saw him capture the Competitive Sport Fishing League (CSFL) Canadian Open on Lake Simcoe. He and Danny McGarry of Newtonville, Ont., then won a CSFL team event on Rice Lake before Gallant returned to take a Shootout Fishing League tournament there.
In September, he led the Bassmaster Northern Open at St. Lawrence River/1000 Islands heading into the final day. Gallant finished fourth as Cory Johnston secured the win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2022.
The Canadian Press