April 23rd, 2024

Canadian Cory Johnston earns career-best Classic finish

By The Canadian Press on March 24, 2024.

TULSA, Okla. – Chris Johnston has recorded his best-ever finish in the US$1-million Bassmaster Classic.

The Cavan, Ont., native was sixth overall Sunday, his first top-10 result over five appearances in pro bass fishing’s premiere event. His previous best was twice being 11th (last year on the Tennessee River and 2021 on Texas’s Lake Ray Roberts).

And it was a solid rebound for Johnston, who stood 38th among 56 anglers after Friday’s opening round.

“Day 1 killed me,’ Johnston said. “I just didn’t figure it out quick enough.”

Johnston finished strong Sunday, his five-fish limit of 19 pounds 14 ounces being the final round’s heaviest bag. Overall, Johnston weighed 15 bass for 49 pounds six ounces.

American Justin Hamner went wire-to-wire to claim the $300,000 winner’s prize. He accumulated 58 pounds three ounces on Grand Lake O the Cherokees.

Johnston was one of three Canadians competing Sunday.

Cooper Gallant, of Bowmanville, Ont., was 12th with 15 fish weighing 47 pounds 12 ounces. The 26-year-old Gallant, appearing in just his second Classic, started the day sixth and his limit Sunday weighed 14 pounds nine ounces.

“Practice was brutal and I kind of figured it out day by day,” Gallant said. “I struggled a bit today. I was hoping to do a bit better but I’m still on the Classic stage, dream come true.”

Gallant improved dramatically from his No. 52 finish last year.

“Going to work our butt off this year on the Elite (Series) to make it back up here,” Gallant said.

Chris Johnston, Cory Johnston’s brother, was 25th with 15 fish weighing 40 pounds. The Peterborough, Ont., competitor brought in five bass Sunday weighing 12 pounds 10 ounces.

Defending-champion Jeff Gustafson, of Kenora, Ont., was 31st. He had 10 fish the first two rounds for 27 pounds 12 ounces but didn’t crack the top-25 to qualify for Sunday’s final round.

Last year, Gustafson became the first Canadian to win the Classic. He led wire-to-wire on the Tennessee River, where he captured his first Elite Series title two years before that.

The Elite Series resumes April 11-14 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2024.

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