Chris Johnston of Otonabee, Ontario, is leading after Day 2 of the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River with a two-day total of 31 pounds, 14 ounces.
Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

August 27, 2022

Johnston Takes Razor-Thin Lead At Bassmaster Elite On Upper Mississippi River

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LA CROSSE, Wis. — Chris Johnston owns a well-documented reputation for smallmouth savvy, but drawing on his largemouth bass roots helped the pro from Otonabee, Ontario, take over the lead on Day 2 of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River with a total weight of 31 pounds, 14 ounces.

Johnston caught 16-4 on Day 1 and tied fellow Canadian Jeff Gustafson for fourth place. Then, despite an hour storm delay and dim, rainy conditions, Johnston added 15-10 today. He heads into Semifinal Sunday with a 1-ounce margin over Day 1 leader Bryan Schmitt and a 2-ounce lead over Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas.

Johnston, who won the 2020 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River, said the Upper Mississippi River’s shallow, weedy habitat presented very familiar scenarios. This week’s success has come through applying the engrained techniques of his Canadian youth.

“Believe it or not, I grew up fishing largemouth; flipping reeds and milfoil and frogging,” Johnston said. “For the first 20 years of my life, it was all largemouth fishing. The smallmouth didn’t take off in our area until I was about 17 to 18 years old.

“I love this style of fishing; putting on 65-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid and just going and having fun. I did mix in a few smallmouth. They’ve been good to me lately, so I couldn’t ignore them.”

Johnston caught his largemouth by frogging the shallow mats and fishing a ChatterBait along the edges. This produced four of the bass he weighed in.

Johnston also visited two smallmouth zones that gave up the occasional largemouth. These current-washed sand breaks completed his limit with a keeper smallmouth.

“The water’s a little dirtier than I’d like, but they’re still there,” he said. “Today, I caught eight or nine and lost a big one. I was getting 2 1/2-pounders and when I left them biting, it was almost every cast.

“I’d catch a few on a reaction bait first and then I’d have to slow down with regular smallmouth stuff. I’m looking forward to getting back there tomorrow and seeing if there’s still a few left.”

Hailing from Deale, Md., Schmitt set the early mark with a Day 1 bag of 17-10. In the second round, he played a smart game that settled his nerves and then stepped on the gas to sack up a limit of 14-3 and tally 31-13.

“I caught an early limit of smallmouth by Carolina rigging a Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer,” Schmitt said. “Those fish just calmed me down on a short day.”

Schmitt would end up culling three of those smallies and filling his limit with largemouth that he caught from a large grassbed. He caught keepers punching a Missile Baits Baby D Bomb, wacky rigging a Missile Baits Magic Worm and Texas rigging a Missile Baits Quiver Worm.

While others have struggled with muddy water brought by local rains, Schmitt’s main area has remained clean thanks to its leeward position and grass filtration. That said, Schmitt struggled with lower productivity.

“I’m happy to have 14 pounds, but tonight I have to sit down and make a strategic plan on how I’m going to do things tomorrow,” Schmitt said. “I sampled enough stuff to realize what I truly have.”

As he did on Day 1, Schmitt finished Day 2 with a big bite, a 3 1/2-pounder at 2:21 p.m.

Combs placed 16th on Day 1 with 14-5 and gained 13 spots with his second-day limit of 17-7 for a 31-12 total. Combs caught the biggest bag of Day 2 and the second-biggest of the event (behind Schmitt’s 17-10).

When he found his starting spot blown out, Combs made a move and ended up around better-quality fish.

“Yesterday, I weighed in four smallmouth and that place was totally messed up by the mud,” he said. “I went to another little area where I was catching 2 3/4-pounders yesterday and today I caught 3-pounders. I had a good bag, but then I just went fishing and caught my biggest fish of the day — almost a 4-pounder.”

Combs caught his fish on reaction baits, including a swim jig. After missing several fish on Day 1, Combs noted that a key bait adjustment helped him convert more bites into catches.

Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 5-8 from Day 1. Schmitt leads the race for VMC Monster Bag with his Day 1 catch of 17-10.

Jay Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., won the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 632 points. Edging out Cody Huff of Ava, Mo., by 90 points, Przekurat earned a $10,000 bonus for the title.

“All season, confidence has been my No. 1 word,” Przekurat said. “If you’re not confident, why even go out there? If you don’t think you’re going to catch ’em, you probably shouldn’t be tournament fishing.

“Putting that win aside, to be consistent for nine tournaments on places I’ve never been to almost means more than (an Elite trophy). I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I know that right now, life has been pretty good bass fishing on the road so far.”

Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, maintained his lead in a tightening Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with 711 points. Johnston is second with 701, followed closely by Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., with 700, Drew Benton of Blakely, Ga., with 677 and Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., with 662.

The Top 47 remaining anglers will take off Sunday at 7 a.m. CT from Copeland Park. The weigh-in will be held back at the park at 3 p.m., with the Top 10 anglers advancing to Championship Monday with a chance at the $100,000 first-place prize and a berth into the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.

FS1 will broadcast live with the leaders beginning at 7 a.m. before coverage resumes on Bassmaster.com.

The tournament is being hosted by Explore La Crosse.

2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River 8/26-8/29
Mississippi River, La Crosse  WI.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 2

   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA 10  31-14  100
Day 1: 5   16-04     Day 2: 5   15-10
2.  Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               10  31-13   99
Day 1: 5   17-10     Day 2: 5   14-03
3.  Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          10  31-12   98
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   17-07
4.  Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              10  30-05   97
Day 1: 5   15-08     Day 2: 5   14-13
5.  Scott Martin           Clewiston, FL           10  29-15   96   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-07     Day 2: 5   16-08
6.  Drew Benton            Blakely, GA             10  29-06   95
Day 1: 5   16-05     Day 2: 5   13-01
7.  Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL        10  29-02   94
Day 1: 5   15-03     Day 2: 5   13-15
8.  Bryan New              Saluda, SC              10  29-00   93
Day 1: 5   15-15     Day 2: 5   13-01
9.  KJ Queen               Catawba, NC             10  28-15   92
Day 1: 5   15-10     Day 2: 5   13-05
10. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK            10  28-09   91
Day 1: 5   14-01     Day 2: 5   14-08
11. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN        10  28-06   90
Day 1: 5   14-13     Day 2: 5   13-09
12. Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI       10  28-03   89
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   15-02
13. Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA 10  28-01   88
Day 1: 5   16-04     Day 2: 5   11-13
14. Hunter Shryock         Ooltewah, TN            10  28-00   87
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   13-11
15. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           10  27-10   86
Day 1: 5   14-01     Day 2: 5   13-09
16. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL            10  27-05   85
Day 1: 5   16-08     Day 2: 5   10-13
17. Buddy Gross            Chattanooga, TN         10  27-03   84
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   14-05
18. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS        10  26-12   83   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-11     Day 2: 5   11-01
19. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN        10  26-11   82
Day 1: 5   13-13     Day 2: 5   12-14
20. Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC         10  26-11   81
Day 1: 5   13-06     Day 2: 5   13-05
21. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA            10  26-10   80
Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 5   15-05
22. Seth Feider            New Market, MN          10  26-09   79
Day 1: 5   10-07     Day 2: 5   16-02
23. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK           10  26-08   78
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   14-10
24. Drew Cook              Cairo, GA               10  26-06   77
Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 5   15-01
25. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX             10  26-05   76
Day 1: 5   13-06     Day 2: 5   12-15
26. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC          10  26-01   75
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   12-08
27. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                10  25-15   74
Day 1: 5   14-13     Day 2: 5   11-02
28. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC           10  25-15   73
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   13-13
29. Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY             10  25-14   72
Day 1: 5   13-02     Day 2: 5   12-12
30. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI           10  25-14   71
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   13-01
31. Alex Redwine           Blue Ash, OH            10  25-13   70
Day 1: 5   14-07     Day 2: 5   11-06
32. Bob Downey             Detroit Lakes, MN       10  25-12   69
Day 1: 5   10-06     Day 2: 5   15-06
33. Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL             10  25-09   68
Day 1: 5   12-00     Day 2: 5   13-09
34. Mike Huff              London, KY              10  25-07   67
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 5   13-02
35. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX          10  25-03   66
Day 1: 5   14-15     Day 2: 5   10-04
36. Chad Pipkens           Dewitt, MI              10  24-12   65
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   11-03
37. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            10  24-10   64
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   11-13
38. Cody Huff              Ava, MO                 10  24-10   63
Day 1: 5   12-03     Day 2: 5   12-07
39. Jake Whitaker          Hendersonville, NC      10  24-07   62
Day 1: 5   12-03     Day 2: 5   12-04
40. Kenta Kimura           Osaka JAPAN             10  24-06   61
Day 1: 5   09-13     Day 2: 5   14-09
41. Michael Iaconelli      Pittsgrove, NJ          10  24-04   60
Day 1: 5   11-08     Day 2: 5   12-12
42. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN           10  24-01   59
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   11-15
43. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT           10  24-00   58
Day 1: 5   11-07     Day 2: 5   12-09
44. Marc Frazier           Newnan, GA              10  23-15   57
Day 1: 5   12-00     Day 2: 5   11-15
45. Joshua Stracner        Vandiver, AL            10  23-12   56
Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 5   11-13
46. Derek Hudnall          Zachary, LA             10  23-11   55
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   10-02
47. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA            10  23-09   54
Day 1: 5   13-03     Day 2: 5   10-06
48. John Cox               Debary, FL              10  23-09   53   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-09     Day 2: 5   12-00
49. Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN             10  23-07   52   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-01     Day 2: 5   13-06
50. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             9  23-06   51   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-11     Day 2: 4   10-11
51. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA               10  23-05   50   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-04     Day 2: 5   12-01
52. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA            10  23-00   49   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   10-14
53. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ           10  22-05   48   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-08     Day 2: 5   11-13
54. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA  9  22-02   47   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-15     Day 2: 4   08-03
55. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL             9  22-00   46   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   07-08     Day 2: 5   14-08
56. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland AUSTRALIA     9  21-13   45   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-14     Day 2: 4   07-15
57. David Williams         Newton, NC              10  21-11   44   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-09     Day 2: 5   12-02
58. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          10  21-10   43   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 5   10-07
59. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX             8  21-09   42   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   14-09     Day 2: 3   07-00
60. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL          10  21-08   41
Day 1: 5   08-05     Day 2: 5   13-03
61. Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Shi JAPAN       8  21-03   40
Day 1: 5   13-14     Day 2: 3   07-05
62. Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL            9  21-03   39
Day 1: 4   07-14     Day 2: 5   13-05
63. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR               9  20-10   38
Day 1: 5   12-08     Day 2: 4   08-02
64. Joseph Webster         Hamilton, AL             9  20-06   37
Day 1: 5   11-01     Day 2: 4   09-05
65. Wes Logan              Springville, AL          8  19-15   36
Day 1: 3   06-01     Day 2: 5   13-14
66. Pat Schlapper          Eleva, WI                9  19-12   35
Day 1: 5   11-09     Day 2: 4   08-03
67. Darold Gleason         Many, LA                 9  19-01   34
Day 1: 5   10-02     Day 2: 4   08-15
68. Josh Douglas           Isle, MN                 9  18-04   33
Day 1: 4   06-12     Day 2: 5   11-08
69. Justin Hamner          Northport, AL            8  18-04   32
Day 1: 5   11-03     Day 2: 3   07-01
70. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              9  17-14   31
Day 1: 5   09-10     Day 2: 4   08-04
71. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              7  17-08   30
Day 1: 2   03-08     Day 2: 5   14-00
72. Daisuke Aoki           Minamitsurugun Yamanash  7  17-08   29
Day 1: 5   13-11     Day 2: 2   03-13
73. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC           7  16-08   28
Day 1: 5   12-12     Day 2: 2   03-12
74. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            8  16-04   27
Day 1: 5   10-08     Day 2: 3   05-12
75. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           8  15-15   26
Day 1: 4   07-07     Day 2: 4   08-08
76. Jason Williamson       Aiken, SC                7  15-14   25
Day 1: 3   06-10     Day 2: 4   09-04
77. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               7  15-11    0
Day 1: 4   09-06     Day 2: 3   06-05
78. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               9  15-01   23
Day 1: 4   06-06     Day 2: 5   08-11
79. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN           7  14-14   22
Day 1: 5   09-08     Day 2: 2   05-06
80. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC              6  12-07   21
Day 1: 5   10-10     Day 2: 1   01-13
81. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI             6  12-07   20
Day 1: 4   08-07     Day 2: 2   04-00
82. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  5  10-13   19
Day 1: 5   10-13     Day 2: 0   00-00
83. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              5  10-02   18
Day 1: 2   04-02     Day 2: 3   06-00
84. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  09-12   17
Day 1: 5   09-12     Day 2: 0   00-00
85. Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA            5  09-11   16
Day 1: 3   05-05     Day 2: 2   04-06
86. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               4  07-11   15
Day 1: 3   05-10     Day 2: 1   02-01
87. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          3  06-08   14
Day 1: 2   04-12     Day 2: 1   01-12
88. Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN           2  05-15   13
Day 1: 2   05-15     Day 2: 0   00-00
89. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            3  05-14   12
Day 1: 3   05-14     Day 2: 0   00-00
90. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               3  05-06   11
Day 1: 3   05-06     Day 2: 0   00-00
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Brock Mosley             Collinsville, MS    05-08      $1,000.00
2   Scott Martin             Clewiston, FL       04-06      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        73       419      1038-04
2        61       376       946-13
———————————-
134       795      1985-01