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Two for One

Chris Johnston and Cory Johnston

All brothers compete, and Cory and Chris Johnston are no different. Then again, they are.

Let me explain. Sure, the brothers from Peterborough, Ontario, compete against one another, especially when it comes to fishing. It started with fighting over who shared the front of the boat with their father, Lynn, when they were kids. Being older by four years, Cory often won that battle and was the first to begin fishing team tournaments with their dad.

Yet, by the time Chris was old enough to fish team tournaments – the usual format for tournaments in Canada – Cory was old enough to run the boat. So in an ironic twist, instead of trying to beat one another, the two began working together to beat everybody else.

The sibling partnership has done that with staggering ability. The two have a practice system in place that, while simple, has generated success north to south. That system, and the teamwork that makes it possible, is about to get its greatest test this week at Wheeler Lake.

 

Cory Johnston

Trust thy brother

As stated earlier, Canadian tournaments typically are team events, and there has been no team like the Johnston brothers in recent years above the United States’ northern border. They won the spring 2015 Sturgeon Bay Open and took runner-up this season. The brothers have also taken turns winning the Kingston Canadian Open of Fishing, with Cory capturing the 2011 and 2012 titles and Chris winning in 2013.

Needless to say, most Northern anglers would probably rather the Johnstons competed solely against one another like normal brothers. Plenty of Walmart FLW Tour pros are also in the same boat, as the Johnstons made quite the impression in their rookie year. Chris won Rookie of the Year and finished second in the Angler of the Year standings, and Cory finished 29th in the AOY race after being in the top 10 most of the season.

How they’ve had all that success starts and ends with trust.

“Most anglers help each other out and talk, but you never fully know if someone is leading you on a wild goose chase,” says Chris, 27. “With Cory and I, we share everything, and we know the information is accurate. Whether it’s in practice or the homework we do before an event, that honest communication is a huge help.”

“I know I can always trust him and what he finds,” echoes Cory, 31. “If he goes into an area in practice, I know it’s checked thoroughly. I don’t have to waste time checking it. And vice versa.”

Aiding in the trust is the fact that while they have different personalities, the two were both taught by the same teacher and fish nearly identically. So if one checks a creek arm and doesn’t find fish, the other knows he, too, would’ve more than likely tried the same patterns and had the same result. On the reverse, if one figures out a pattern, then the other can run it too.

Just don’t make the mistake that they’re sharing fish or water.   

 

Chris Johnston

You go your way, I’ll go mine

Even the most cordial brothers are still brothers. One still wants to always beat the other. And when it comes to the Johnstons, both always fish to win.

“If I find a pattern, I’ll be sure to tell Chris so he can try and replicate that pattern somewhere else,” says Cory.

“We don’t split spots or fish, because then we’re just competing against each other,” adds Chris.

That’s why once practice starts at Wheeler, each will head in a different direction every day during practice. The two will effectively be able to split the lake in half, which equates to six days of practice instead of the usual three.

Considering that Cory has never fished Wheeler and Chris has only been there once, they’re pleased to have that advantage in preparation.  

“We’re going to have to go in with open minds,” says Chris. “We know there’s going to be an early bite and a schooling bite, but we’ll see when we get there.”

“It’s not like we have a lot of experience fishing Southern reservoirs in August,” Cory says. “If it was up north, we know what’d we do, but this is going to be tough. The Cup may be the toughest event we’ve ever prepared for and fished.”

 

Cory Johnston and Chris Johnston

Sibling rivalry

Come the final weigh-in, both brothers want nothing more than to see one of them holding the Cup. Of course, each wants to be the one holding it, with one having a little more incentive than the other.

“Oh, I’ve got bragging rights right now [after winning Rookie of the Year], and I let him know it regularly,” says Chris. “I make sure our friends remind him all the time. He’s got some redemption to get at the Cup.”

Any older brother will tell you that few things burn more than when his younger sibling upstages him, and Cory is certainly using it as motivation.

“Oh, I’ve been pulling knives out of my back,” jokes Cory. “It’s OK. I’ve been telling him he can have Rookie of the Year. I’m going to win the Cup. Then we’ll see who’s talking after that.

“We’re still brothers, after all.”

Tags: forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  sean-ostruszka  pre-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

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