UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Johnston jousts Ontario’s big water for early lead at 1000 Islands

Johnston jousts Ontario’s big water for early lead at 1000 Islands
Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ont., leads the Stren Series event at 1000 Islands with 23 pounds, 7 ounces of smallmouth.

CLAYTON, N.Y. - There's no doubt that the 1000 Islands area in New York is one of the finest mixed black bass fisheries in the world, holding huge populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

But on day one of the Stren Series Northern Division, the show was all about Lake Ontario's giant smallmouths. All four of day one's 20-pound plus bags were brown fish from the big lake.

Essentially, some pros who braved Ontario's significant rollers, whipped up by the 15 to 20 mph southwest winds, were rewarded with the best catches.

Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ont., was one of those who braved the wind and waves and made it back to weigh-in with an eye-popping 23 pounds, 7 ounces of Lake Ontario smallmouths to take the tournament lead on day one.

All of Johnston's bass were identical 4- to 5-pound smallmouths that looked like they had been raised on growth hormones.

"I came here last week to pre-practice and we had three days of unusually calm weather," the young Canadian said. "It was so calm and clear I was able to find some fantastic breaks with my eyes - I could literally see where spawning flats broke off into deep water. I knew those were the first places those big post-spawn smallmouths would go, so I marked them with my GPS."

Today was far too rough to see the breaks again, but thanks to accurate GPSing, Johnston was able to line his casts up on the breaks. He chose to go with a drop-shot on the key contour changes and he was rewarded with big bites.

"One thing that's helped me tremendously in this kind of wind is to drop-shot with braided line," he said. "I used Power-Pro braid as my main line and then tied a fluorocarbon leader for my drop-shot rig. The sensitivity of that rig is amazing with braid. Even in the wind I can feel everything going on down there."

Johnston sacked his large limit by noon and then took his sweet time getting back in, some two hours of surfing rollers back to Clayton.

Desforges looking to defend

Mike Desforges of Burlington, Ont., won the 1000 Islands Stren Series event last year and now he'sMike Desforges of Burlington, Ont., won the 1000 Islands Stren Series event last year. He is in second place with 22 pounds, 14 ounces thanks to the help of a 5-15 smallie that took the Folgers Big Bass award. looking to make it two wins in a row.

Desforges brought in 22 pounds, 14 ounces of smallmouth today to begin the event in second place. His massive stringer included a 5-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth that claimed the Folgers Big Bass award.

Desforges is going into Lake Ontario as well. He believes that the fish he is catching are either still on beds or just beginning to leave the nests.

Several of the big fish he caught today he found in practice when they showed themselves on a jerkbait.

"They would come up on the jerkbait and I would pull it away and just mark the spot," he explained. "Today I went back to two of those spots and they produced my two biggest bass."

Desforges hopes that calmer weather tomorrow will allow him to push even farther out into Lake Ontario to some other areas he marked in practice.

Belinda third
Tom Belinda of Hollidaysburg, Pa., grabbed the third place spot on day one with a 21-pound, 13-ounce catch of smallmouths.
Tom Belinda of Hollidaysburg, Pa., grabbed the third place spot on day one with a 21-pound, 13-ounce catch of smallmouths from Lake Ontario. His limit included a pair of smallmouths weighing 5-3 and 5-7.

"I made it to the mouth of the river this morning and I almost turned around because of the waves," Belinda said. "But then I forced myself to go because of the giant smallmouths I found out there in practice. If I want to win, that's where I have to go. Ontario is where the big tournaments are won."

Belinda also noted that he broke off and lost other bass the same size of the 5-pounders he weighed in.

"There are more monsters there," he added. "If I can get there tomorrow, I think I can weigh in another 20-pound bag."

Strub fourth
Derek Strub of Elora, Ont., is in fourth place after day one with 20 pounds, 1 ounce.
Derek Strub of Elora, Ont., also pushed his way out onto Lake Ontario, thanks to the help of a 22-foot walleye boat. His efforts netted a 20-pound, 1-ounce limit to put him in fourth place after day one.

"It's all about how far the wind will let us go," Strub said. "The calmer it is, the farther we can all go and the bigger the weights will be across the board. The harder it blows, the closer we have to stay and the lower the weights will be - that's just the nature of Great Lakes fishing."

Duckardt fifth

Bill Duckardt of Pittsgrove, N.J., represented the largemouth bass contingent with an 18-pound, 10-ounce catch of green bass for fifth place.Bill Duckardt of Pittsgrove, N.J., represented the largemouth bass contingent with an 18-pound, 10-ounce catch of green bass for fifth place.

"Largemouths are my specialty here," Duckardt said. "That's all I fish for. But it takes a lot of jumping around to catch good weight with largemouths right now. You can't just go to one bay and fish all day. I'm jumping around to a lot of one and two fish spots to catch the best fish."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top-10 pros in the Stren Series Northern Division at 1000 Islands after day one:

6th: Rob Laframboise of Sault St. Marie, Ont., five bass, 18-8
7th: John Lorenzo of Kane, Penn., five bass, 18-1
8th: Mike Neilson of Markham, Ont., five bass, 17-11
8th: Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., five bass, 17-11
10th: Cory Johnston of Peterborough, Ont., five bass, 17-0

Mong leads co-anglers

C. David Mong of Zwolle, La., leads the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series event at 1000 Islands with a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.


John Woodroof of Lynchburg, Va., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces.

Anthony Savino of Marlboro, N.Y., holds down the third place position in the Co-angler Division with five bass for 14 pounds, 8 ounces.

Vince Denina of Willis, Texas, is in fourth place with five bass for 14 pounds, 4 ounces.

George Yund of Albany, N.Y. rounds out the top five co-anglers with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces.

Big bass

Doug Wiser of Brackney, Pa., caught the big bass in the Co-angler Division on day one weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the Stren Series Northern Division event after day one:

6th: Scott McGill of Lindsay, Ont., five bass, 14-2
7th: JC Chandler of Tunnel Hill, Ga., five bass, 14-1
7th: Eric McDonald of Barkhamsted, Conn., five bass, 14-1
7th: Stephen Semelsberger of Mt. Airy, Md., five bass, 14-1
7th: Robert Sweeney of Baltimore, Md., five bass, 14-1

Day two of the Stren Series event at 1000 Islands will begin Friday at 6:30 a.m. from French Creek Marina.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2009-07-16-1000-islands 

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