Chris Johnston: First Canadian To Ever Win B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament

Chris Johnston

Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario has become the first Canadian bass tournament angler to win a Bassmaster Elite event. The Canadian angler dominated at the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite held on the St. Lawrence River out of Clayton, New York, on the weekend of July 23-26. He weighed in 20 smallmouth bass at a staggering 97 pounds, 8 ounces. 

For his victory, Chris takes home a gorgeous tournament trophy and a nice little paycheque to the tune of $102,000 U.S. If he were to cash that cheque at the time of this writing, that would equal approximately $136,624.92 in Canadian funds—a nice payday for a four-day event.

Chris was also the first Canadian to win a Fishing League Worldwide major event. This truly sends out a message that Canada is not just about walleye and trout, muskie, etc.

Success Has Always Been a Matter of Time

Chris, his brother Cory, and Northwestern Ontario resident Jeff Gustafson have been hitting the B.A.S.S. tournament trail for a few years now, and all three are showing the world that they belong there. Between the three of them, success has always been a matter of time.

In this past weekend’s event out of Clayton, New York, for example, Chris pulled off the first-place victory, Cory landed in 7th (see below), and Jeff barely missed the top ten, ending up in 12th.

I watched a lot of this event on Bassmaster Live online (fantastic coverage), where yet another Canadian, Dave Mercer (recent guest of the weekly Fish’n Canada Live Webcast), was heavily involved. Dave is the weigh-in emcee and does periodic on-camera pieces throughout the day. Our Canadian boys are representing in all aspects—great to see.

A Surprising Decision?

One of the most surprising things to me (at first glance) was Cory Johnston’s decision not to venture into Lake Ontario on the final Sunday. I would’ve guaranteed Cory could have moved up in the ranks, likely pulling a 20-plus-pound bag of smallies from the big lake. It wasn’t until I talked with Keith Beasley (the Beasley brothers are great friends with the Johnstons) and then found the pay-back of the top ten finalists, that I discovered yet again that the Johnston brothers are one step ahead of everyone else. 

Since there was no money difference from 10th place up to 4th place (all $15,000 U.S.), Cory didn’t want to chance beating up his equipment in the huge Lake Ontario waves since on the Monday after this St. Lawrence event, the competitors were all to move to Lake Champlain for the following event. Think about that people: Cory might have moved up the standings, but he thought better of it. A wise financial decision since he knows the perils of faulty equipment.

My Fish’n Canada hat tips to Chris and the rest of our Canadian team for representing our country so well against a stellar field of competitors. Best of luck to them for the remainder of the season.

Read more official tournament coverage here.


(Last summer, Angelo had the pleasure of interviewing “Papa Johnston”, father of Chris and Cory, on the Outdoor Journal Radio show. Listen to the full interview here.)

Leave a Reply