(Feb 23, 2018 - Leesburg. FL)
Canadian pro Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces, to the scale Friday to top the pro standings after Day Two of the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Lowrance. Johnston will lead the final 30 pros into Day Three of the four-day tournament event that featured 368 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the Pro Division and up to $25,000 cash in the Co-angler Division.
Johnston, who vaulted into the lead after starting the day in 12th place, spent his Friday fishing on Lake Harris. He said he targeted bass along a stretch of main-lake hydrilla in 12 feet of water, and caught the majority of his weight by 10 a.m.
“I fished a weed edge with a 300-yard-long indentation in it,” said Johnston, the 2016 Tour Rookie of the Year who is nearing $300,000 in FLW career earnings. “The wind was blowing in and I think shad kind of got grouped up. I hit Spot Lock on my Minn Kota Ultrex and didn’t move for 2 hours or so. That’s where four of the five that I weighed in came from.”
Around 9:30 a.m., Johnston caught an 8-pound, 6-ounce kicker with a Rat-L-Trap to anchor his limit. He said he worked through the area for another hour before moving on to old water, where he caught a 4-pounder as the day came to a close.
“It’s definitely key to get them early in the hydrilla,” said Johnston. “In the afternoon they shut down. Hopefully they’re there again tomorrow.”
The top 30 pros that made first cut and will fish Saturday at the Harris Chain of Lakes are:
1st: Chris Johnston, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, 10 bass, 45-4
2nd: Tony Dumitras, Winston, Ga., 10 bass, 42-5
3rd: Yamamoto Baits pro Matt Greenblatt, Port St. Lucie, Fla., 10 bass, 41-12
4th: Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla., 10 bass, 41-11
5th: Ronald Young, Lake Wales, Fla., 10 bass, 40-4
6th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 10 bass, 38-6
7th: Koby Kreiger, Bokeelia, Fla., 10 bass, 38-1
8th: Jamie Horton, Centreville, Ala., 10 bass, 36-14
9th: John Devere, Berea, Ky., 10 bass, 36-9
10th: Shawn Murphy, Nicholasville, Ky., 10 bass, 36-0
11th: Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., 10 bass, 35-14
12th: Bob Morin, Seymour, Tenn., 10 bass, 35-13
13th: Jordan Osborne, Longview, Texas, 10 bass, 35-10
14th: Kurt Dove, Del Rio, Texas, 10 bass, 35-9
15th: Boo Woods, London, Ky., 10 bass, 35-8
16th: Jeff Gustafson, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, 35-8
17th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 35-2
18th: John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., 10 bass, 34-15
19th: Jared McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., 10 bass, 34-9
20th: Harry Moore, Valley, Ala., 10 bass, 33-5
21st: Yamamoto Baits pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 10 bass, 33-4
22nd: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 33-0
23rd: Brandon Cobb, Greenwood, S.C., 10 bass, 32-4
24th: Buddy Gross, Chickamauga, Ga., 10 bass, 31-13
25th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 31-11
26th: Johnny McCombs, Morris, Ala., 10 bass, 31-4
27th: Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas, 10 bass, 31-2
28th: Josh Douglas, Isle, Minn., 10 bass, 30-14
29th: Greg Bohannan, Bentonville, Ark., 10 bass, 30-13
30th: Braxton Setzer, Montgomery, Ala., 10 bass, 30-12
Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, California, earned Friday's $500 Simms Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 9-pound, 1-ounce largemouth.
Overall there were 873 bass weighing 2,147 pounds, 1 ounce, caught by 183 pros Friday. The catch included 160 five-bass limits.
Ryan Eckman of Okeechobee, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds even, followed by Robert Kimbrough of Vero Beach, Florida, who finished in second place with 10 bass totaling 34-14, worth $7,600.
The top 10 co-anglers finished:
1st: Ryan Eckman, Okeechobee, Fla., 10 bass, 35-0, $20,000
2nd: Robert Kimbrough, Vero Beach, Fla., 10 bass, 34-14, $7,600
3rd: Daniel Weaver, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 34-7, $5,050
4th: Mark Howard, Mesquite, Texas, 10 bass, 33-4, $4,000
5th: George Kapiton, Inverness, Fla., 10 bass, 32-5, $3,000
6th: Fred Rigdon, Belleview, Fla., nine bass, 29-9, $2,500
7th: Kevin Medine, Port Allen, La., 10 bass, 27-5, $2,000
8th: J.P. Sims, Cookeville, Tenn., 10 bass, 27-2, $1,800
9th: Glenn Day, Cumming, Ga., 10 bass, 27-0, $1,700
10th: Brian Campbell, Oxford, Ohio, 10 bass, 26-11, $1,600
Rex Jaeger of Hamilton, Ohio, earned $250 for the Simms Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division Friday with an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.
Overall there were 678 bass weighing 1,332 pounds, 7 ounces, caught by 169 co-anglers Friday. The catch included 99 five-bass limits.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field of 368 anglers competed in the two-day opening round.
Co-angler competition concluded following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 30 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Lowrance is more than $930,000, including $10,000 through 60th place in the Pro Division. The tournament is hosted by Lake County, Florida.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2018 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 10-12 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. EST each day from the Venetian Gardens boat ramp, located at 201 E. Lake Harris Drive in Leesburg. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins, Feb. 24-25, will also be held at the Venetian Gardens, beginning at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Venetian Gardens from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Expo is the perfect opportunity for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Venetian Gardens on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to youth (18 and under) and Special Olympics athletes (all ages). Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Lowrance will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) April 11 from Noon-1 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.