Winning Baits

How Cory Johnston won the St Johns Elite

There’s guys who seem to come out of nowhere to win a blue trophy, and there’s guys who when they win one you’re not surprised at all. With double-digit top 10s in just over 4 years on the Elites including several 2nds (and an 8th at the St Johns), Cory winning one to me was no surprise at all. It was coming. Here’s how he did it.

Going in and practice

> “I was talking to Mercer about this…I had a feeling and I told my camera guy before the 1st day, ‘I’ve got a good feeling this week – I’m not really sure why. Something feels right.’

> “The 1st day of practice, Chris actually went into that spring [Salt Springs, northwest side of Lake George] in the morning…I wanted to find some fish flipping. Chris said it was loaded – fish were everywhere. I said, ‘Perfect.’ It was big enough for both of us and probably a few other boats.

> “But the biggest key to that spring was the weather. The first morning Chris went in there it was flat calm and sunny – you could see everything. Later that afternoon the wind picked up and it was really hard to see. So anyone who went in there later…couldn’t see the fish.

> “I went in there early day 2 and marked some fish. But the water was getting stained because the wind was blowing so hard. It was blowing the dirty water into the spring. So everybody who went in there was not seeing them again.

> “I said to Chris, ‘There’s not going to be that many boats in here because the guys are not seeing these fish.’ So that was probably the biggest key of the week.

> “I found a bunch of areas that had fish flipping [spatterdock] pads…backup fish….”


> “Day 1 I ran to that spring. I was first boat in there and had it to myself for 2 hours. I really thought no one else was coming: If someone else had seen all those fish they would be starting there.

> “I was taking my time…going by some fish on purpose. Caleb Sumrall came in…Chris and Matt Arey came in.

> “Day 2 I went to the spring and did the exact same thing, and day 3 I went [there] and caught  ’em all again.

> “Day 4 I knew it was drying up…I went flipping pads. I went to the spring and found one big one. I got it to roll on the bait one time but I couldn’t catch her. I went to the pads and caught a couple good ones. I don’t think I weighed one from the spring [that day].”

I asked him how he caught ’em so much better in that spring than the other guys – because he basically didn’t even have to fish the last day he had so much weight:

> “I think that I caught them fairly quick when I found one. And I covered a lot of water. Key was covering a lot of water – doing laps in there – because new fish were pulling up on beds constantly.”


> “I was rotating 2-3 baits. Every fish was different. I caught them on a 6th Sense Bongo, some on another creature bait I was throwing a bit, and a stick [worm].

> “Every one was gp. I just find that they bite quicker with a more natural bait. I don’t need to see the bait….”

> Flipping bait: 3.7″ 6th Sense Bongo craw (gp), 4/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Heavy Cover Hook, 1/4-oz 6th Sense Tungsten Weight, 20-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro, Daiwa Pitch/Flip Reel, 7′ 5″ Daiwa Tatula Elite Cory Johnston Soft Stickbait Football Jig Rod.

> Wacky rig: Stick worm (gp), #1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook, 16-lb Seaguar JDM PEX8 Braid to 8-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro, Daiwa Exist Spin Reel (3000), 6′ 10″ L Daiwa BLX Rod.

[First time that brand new to the US Seaguar JDM PEX8 Braid was used in a tourney win.]


He basically didn’t need ’em but:

> “I used the [Garmin LiveScope] Perspective Mode a little bit. I caught one on day 3 – Chris went over it and said I just seen one. It was ripply – I couldn’t see so I just put the Poles down, put Perspective out and could see a fish. I threw it out and caught it on the first cast.”


> “Definitely the Power-Pole Move. That freakin’ thing is so quiet and stealthy you can just put it on a higher setting and it’s quieter than any other motor on the market. To be able to cover more water quicker and quieter is a big key.

> “If you weren’t careful, the female would dart off the bed before you’d actually see them – if you had your trolling motor on 100. I feel like Chris and I were able to cover a lot of water [quietly with the Move].”

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