WADDINGTON – Chris Johnston understands the feeling.
He is a successful Canadian fisherman with vast experience in northern fisheries that are known for producing large sea bass. So, it is natural that many consider him a favorite in this week's Berkley Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River.
The same is true of his brother, Cory.
But for anyone who thinks that Johnston's boys are going to escape with the seventh Elite Series event of the season, Chris says "Not so fast."
"Everyone thinks we're going to dominate San Lorenzo, and that makes me nervous," said Chris, who lives in Peterborough, Canada, about three hours from Waddington. "We don't fish the river very often. In fact, I'm closer to Lake Ontario, and when there's a tournament outside St. Lawrence, I go to the lake every time to fish.
"I have a little knowledge of the river, but not as everyone thinks."
The competition days are from this Thursday until next Sunday, with daily takeoffs at 9 a.m. since the launch of the Whittaker Park ship. Weightings are scheduled for Whittaker Park every day at 5 p.m.
To the dismay of the Johnstons, the waters of Lake Ontario will be off limits. But the river has shown in recent years that it has more than enough mouths to produce heavy weights. In last year's event, the top 5 fishermen had four-day weights in the range of 90-95 pounds.
Historically, fishermen have used a collection of delicacy tactics in St. Lawrence, mainly shooting platforms, spies and small swimsuits, to catch deep-sea bass. But Johnston said he hopes to avoid that route.
"My best chances of winning will be if the fish are shallow, which could be the case since there has been a colder spring this year," he said. “Deep drift is something that anyone could gain and catch 25 pounds. They are not difficult to catch if you are in the right area. You just have to start drifting, and I think that makes it difficult for anyone to gain a real advantage in doing so.
"My best case would be to fish in shallow water for the bass that I can really see."
In addition to fighting for the $ 100,000 first place prize in the tournament and the coveted blue trophy that comes with each Elite Series victory, fishermen will earn valuable points in the Toyota Bassmaster Fisherman of the Year race. With only four remaining tournaments, the race for one of the most prestigious titles in professional fishing is warming up.
Florida rookie Drew Cook leads the AOY race with 502 points, followed by Alabama professional Scott Canterbury (491), Cory Johnston (490), Indiana professional Bill Lowen (482) and Brandon Cobb of South Carolina ( 480).
Cook has no experience at St. Lawrence, and thinks it could be a good thing.
"I feel that every time you fish in a new place for the first time, you really catch the moment instead of doing what worked in the past," Cook said. "I have no preconceived idea. I am starting completely new."
Although he said that AOY has been difficult to escape from the buzz, Cook said he will not be pressured anymore just because he is in the first place.
"I try to get it out of my mind, but it is mentioned so often that it is a bit difficult," he said. "I'm not going to fish differently. I'm not going to use cruise control or anything like that. I'm going to fish to win as I always do."
Although he perfected his artisanal fishing for the big mouth in Florida, Cook said he is excited about the idea of fishing one of the best small-mouth fisheries in the nation.
"I love to catch bigmouth, although I know there is a really large untapped largemouth fishing there," he said. "I can end up mixing the two a bit, but I'm going to focus mainly on the small mouth.
"Catching a small mouth limit of 25 pounds is a box that I would definitely like to check."
A full field of 75 fishermen will compete on Thursday and Friday before reaching the Top 35 for Saturday's semifinal round. Only the top 10 will advance to the Sunday Championship.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the Outdoor Exhibition will open at 11 am Whittaker Park, giving fans the opportunity to take demonstration rides on a Skeeter / Yamaha boat and see the latest products from Toyota, Carhartt and Berkley / Abu Garcia
The Expo will also present activities for children, games and prizes, food vendors, live music and an opportunity for fans to meet their favorite professionals at 1-3 p.m. Angler Alley. Saturday. Fishermen will also conduct clinics from 1-3 p.m. Saturday about the latest tips, techniques and equipment.