Johnston leads at 1000 Islands - Major League Fishing

Johnston leads at 1000 Islands

Hesson takes co-angler lead in EverStart Northern
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Despite a broken trolling motor, Chris Johnston still managed to take over the pro lead on day two. Photo by David A. Brown.
July 29, 2011 • David A. Brown • Archives

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Rough, wet, but still fishable – that was the story for day two of EverStart Northern Division at the 1000 Islands.

Gone was the sunshine that sparkled for the first half of day one. Gone were the 20-pound bags that crossed the stage eight times yesterday. Present was persistent cloud cover that dropped lots of rain across the region. Also present was considerably rougher waters that nearly derailed the efforts of pro leader Chris Johnston.

After placing second on day one with 22-11, the Peterborough, Ont. angler sacked up 17-8 today and took over the top spot with 40 pounds, 3 ounces – but not without significant challenges. Running some 60 miles across a tempestuous Lake Ontario, Johnston encountered waves as high as eight feet and the unavoidable pounding took what could have been a disastrous toll on his equipment.

“Before I got to my first spot, I broke my (trolling motor) so I didn’t have that today,” he said. “A lot of my spots are isolated, so that made it a lot harder. The waves were rolling over the front of the boat and you couldn’t see for the rain.”

Johnston had to use his outboard engine to idle as slowly as possible, but that was like a surgeonUpsizing to a 1-ounce dropshot weight helped pro leader Chris Johnston fish effectively in the rough conditions. replacing his scalpel with a steak knife. Nevertheless, he made a milk run to a bunch of spots he figured he could work with limited precision and picked up a few of quality fish.

The day, Johnston said, began slowly, but persistence paid off. Once he got the ball rolling, he steadily upgraded.

“Today was a lot tougher than yesterday; I had a really slow start,” he said. “I went to my first spot and there weren’t any fish there.

“Around 11 o’clock, I had four fish – 2- to 3-pounders. I pulled into one spot in the middle of nowhere in 30 feet and there were fish everywhere. I lost two there because I was on the big engine and I couldn’t get out of my seat. I caught one but that was all I could get there.

“By this time, it was 12 and it was getting really rough, so I started heading in with 13-14 pounds. On the way in, I had a spot where I had done well the weekend before so I stopped there, marked fish and threw out my dropshot and got a 4-pounder. I did the same thing again and got another 4-pounder.”

Johnston caught all of his fish by dropshotting a 3-inch Slammer. To compensate for the rough conditions, he upsized his weight to a 1-ounce cylinder to descend the 30-foot depths he fished.

Hippert slips to a close second

He led day one with a 24-pound, 8-ounce bag that stands as the event’s largest thus far, but with today’s inclement weather making all things more difficult on the big pond, Hamburg, N.Y. pro Jeff Hippert saw his productivity fizzle. After an active day one, today yielded just five keepers weighing 15-6 for Hippert and he slipped a notch to second with a two-day total of 39-14 – just five ounces off the lead.

Day-one leader Jeff Hippert slipped to second on day two, but he trails by only 5 ounces.“Today, I knew it was going to be a little tougher with the cloud cover,” Hippert said. “Generally, on a bright, clear day I can do better.”

Hippert stuck with the shoals he fished in yesterday in 18-30 feet, but with a lot of his fish scattered in dim conditions, he had to do a lot more looking today.

“I knew I just needed to keep on moving to different areas and try different spots,” Hippert said. “I’m glad I did. I just had a couple of areas that I kept running through and I got five fish that got me through today. I was happy to get that.”

Hippert said today’s challenging conditions made him appreciate his day-one performance: “When you come in with (nearly 25 pounds), it gives you a little leeway, because a lot of anglers are catching 16-17 pounds. So that was good to get that weight the first day.”

Hippert used ¼-ounce green pumpkin tubes in the shallower ranges of his spots and switched to dropshots in his deeper water. He used a 3/8-ounce weight and a Jackall Cross Tail Shad on his dropshots.

Seal improves to third

Gregg Seal, of Eldred, Penn., returned to the St. Lawrence River today, caught a limit of 18-10 andRotating dropshot baits proved effective for third-place pro Gregg Seal. moved up a notch to third with 39-6. Seal used a dropshot as he did yesterday, but today he had to reverse his depth order.

“It took me a while to figure them out today and I didn’t have a limit until 10 after 10 this morning,” Seal said. “Yesterday, I had to move deeper but today I actually had to do the opposite and move shallower and then we started catching them pretty good. Yesterday, they were right around 50 feet. Today, they were anywhere from 15 to 20 feet.”

Also important, he said, was keeping a fresh presentation in front of the fish. He fished a variety of dropshot baits, including a Berkley Gulp! minnow, Poor Boys goby and darter and Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm and Senko.

“I kept changing baits and it seemed like every time I did, I’d catch another fish, so I just kept changing,” Seal said. “I don’t know if it was their head or mine, but it seemed to work either way.”

Shallow bite stalls for Short

When his shallow bite didnKevin Short, of Mayflower, Ark. caught a limit weighing 17 pounds today and yielded one spot to place fourth with 38-3. Yesterday, Short had put together a 21-pound bag with shallow and deep fish. Today, the nearshore fish scattered under the cloudy skies and he caught only one on a jerkbait in five feet before heading to spots in 16-20 feet, where he found four more with Zoom and Jackall finesse baits on a dropshot.

“I couldn’t get my shallow bite today,” he said. “They just weren’t taking the bait, so I pulled back out and finished out a limit with dropshot fish.”

Lavictoire holds at fifth

Successful fishing depends on good decisions and for Tomas Lavictoire Jr., of West Rutland, Vt., knowing when to wrap up his angling effort proved to be the best call he’d make all day. After catching a solid limit of 17-4, Lavictoire noticed that his fish were showing signs of severe stress. This was about 11 a.m. and he wasn’t due in until three. Nevertheless, Lavictoire called it a day and opted to preserve what he had rather than risk these fish in the search for possible upgrades.

“I came in about two and a half hours early,” he said. “I could not afford to have four or five dead fish and a penalty (of up to 2 1/2 pounds). I wouldn’t have made it (to tomorrow’s finale). That was the biggest decision today – to forego an hour or so of fishing to come back early, weigh the fish and live with what I had. That’s what I had to do.”

Lavictoire added three bags of ice to his well water, treated the fish to a Rejuvenade cocktail and plugged in two portable aerators. Lavictoire secured his top-10 berth with a fifth-place weight of 37-9Mike Desforges caught a 5-pound, 11-ounce largemouth that earned Snickers Big Bass honors.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series 1000 Islands event:

6th: John McGoey, of Omemee, Ont., 37-9

7th: Bob Izumi, of Milton, Ont., 37-0

8th: Cory Johnston, of Petersborough, Ont., 36-10

9th: Jason Putman, of Cicero, N.Y., 36-7

10th: Eric Foltin, of Lebanon, Penn., 35-3

Mike Desforges earned Snickers Big Bass honors with a 5-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.

Hesson hammers `em for co-angler lead

He placed 31st on day one with 13-6, but Kevin Hesson was dead set on making the top-10 cut, so he stepped on the gas, sacked up a limit of 19-7 (the heaviest co-angler bag of day two) and rocketed up Kevin Hesson improved 30 spots to take the co-angler lead on day two.the standings to the top spot with a two-day total of 32-13.

The Polk, Penn. co-angler caught all of his fish on dropshots baited with Poor Boys darters and Berkley Gulp! leeches. Smoke and green pumpkin where his best colors. Hesson’s bag included a smallmouth that went 5-9.

“I’ve had to be pretty versatile because yesterday (my partner) went for largemouth and today we went for smallmouth,” he said. “When we first got on our spot, it was pretty quick and my bite was pretty consistent until about noon.”

Hesson adjusted to the day’s increasingly windy conditions by upsizing his dropshot weight from 3/8 to 1/2-ounce so he could feel the bottom in the 15- to 30-foot range he fished.

Anthony Savino, or Malboro, N.Y. placed second with 31-15, while Ken Golub, of Pittsford, N.Y. took third with 31-14. Larry Lafaver, of Watertown, N.Y. finished fourth with 30-15 and Casey McGargle, of Turbotville, Penn., was fifth with 30-15.

Gary Knight, of Magnolia, Del. took second with 18-5, while Ken Golub, of Pittsford, N.Y. placed third with 18-4. Kevin Dorsey, of Napanee, Ont. and tied for fourth at 18-0.This 6-pound, 12-ounce largemouth earned Snickers Big Bass honors for Stephen Semelsberger.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series 1000 Islands event:

6th: David Kelly, of Goose Creek, S.C., 30-7

7th: Gary Knight, of Magnolia, De., 29-0

8th: Michael Bahnweg, of Union Dale, Penn., 28-12

9th: Doug Caldwell, of Kane, Penn., 28-9

10th: Nathan Knapp, of Brooktondale, N.Y., 28-7

Stephen Semelsberger caught a 6-pound, 12-ounce largemouth that earned Snickers Big Bass honors.

Day three of EverStart Series Northern Division action at the 1000 Islands continues at Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 5:45 a.m. (Eastern) at French Creek Marina, located at 250 West Street in Clayton, N.Y.