Canadian pro fisher Cory Johnston moves into top spot in Elite Series event

PALATKA, Fla. — Canadian pro fisher Cory Johnston took a huge step toward securing his first-ever Elite Series win Friday.

Johnston, of Cavan, Ont., brought in a five-fish limit weighing 27 pounds eight ounces -- the day's heaviest bag -- to take the overall lead at 50 pounds 11 ounces after the second day of the Elite Series event on the St. Johns River. American Matt Arey is second, 11 pounds nine ounces behind Johnston.

Johnston stood second overall after the first day at 23 pounds three ounces behind Caleb Sumrall of the United States (28 pounds, one ounce). But Sumrall had just one fish weighing three pounds 11 ounces Friday to fall to 17th overall (32 pounds three ounces)

Johnston is one of the Elite Series top competitors but a first victory on the circuit has been elusive. In 2021, Johnston won a Bassmaster Open tournament in Clayton, N.Y., but three times he's settled for second in Elite Series tournaments.

Johnston is looking to become the third Canadian to win an Elite Series event. Johnston's brother, Chris, and Jeff Gustafson, of Kenora, Ont., have accomplished that feat.

Last year Gustafson became the first Canadian to capture the US$1-million Bassmaster Classic, pro bass fishing's most prestigious event.

A solid showing Friday left Chris Johnston fourth overall to safely qualify for the next round. The top-50 competitors secured spots for Saturday's action.

Johnston's five-fish limit weighed 21 pounds seven ounces, giving him 38 pounds overall.

Also advancing was Cooper Gallant of Bowmanville, Ont. Gallant's five-fish limit Friday weighed 12 pounds five ounces, giving him 29 pounds 14 ounces to stand 27th.

Gustafson was 101st with 10 fish weighing 15 pounds five ounces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press