TROUT CREEK, Mont. — Some anglers in the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional worked all day to eke out a limit on Montana’s Noxon Reservoir. But not Tim Johnston. He did it in an hour and a half.
“I had five fish by 7:22 this morning,” said Johnston, a member of the Western Montana Bassmasters. Launch was at 6 a.m.
After that, he basically quit fishing. He only caught one other fish the rest of the day to cull up, and he weighed in 14 pounds, 4 ounces.
Now, he’s in the overall lead at the divisional with 26 pounds, 5 ounces.
“It’s an honor to lead here,” said Johnston. “As good as all these guys are, it’s really an honor.”
Johnston was tops on his state last year and qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, and from there, he qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Is he ready to go back to the Classic?
“I want to go back so bad,” he said. “But that’s a long, long way away. One day at a time.”
Plus, he said, “There’s a lot of guys on the Montana team who also really want to go and have never been before, and I’d love for them to get that opportunity, too.”
When it comes down to it, Johnston is all about the team.
“It would be a real privilege for Montana to win here on our home water,” said Johnston. “There’s a lot of folks here who volunteer and help us out all year long, and it would mean so much to win in front of them.”
So far, Montana has the lead in the state competition, with a total cumulative weight of 213 pounds, 1 ounce. Less than 10 pounds behind is the team from Idaho with 205-10.
Montana’s lead could still disappear with a whole day of fishing left. Day 2 was much different than Day 1, and Day 3 could change just as much.
Several individuals had major weight swings today. One was Randell Bell of New Mexico, who had the unfortunate distinction on Day 1 of weighing in the smallest single bass — only 13 ounces. On Day 2, he brought in a load of 11-10. Another was Dejon Lewis of California, whose whole sack yesterday — 2-5 — was eclipsed by a single one of his bass today — a 5-8 that’s currently up for Carhartt Big Bass honors.
If no angler brings in a bigger bass on the final day, Lewis will win Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament, an award worth $500. Another award worth noting is the Livingston Lures Leader award, which is earned by the Day 2 leader. That will be Tim Johnston, who will receive $250 from Livingston.
Johnston’s bag was bigger than any other from Day 1, but two other anglers had even bigger ones on Day 2. Jason Hickey of Idaho, who is currently in second place, brought in 14-12 today, and Harrison Bertsch, also of Idaho, weighed in 14-8.
If Johnston remains the leader on the Montana team after the Day 3 weigh-in, he’ll advance to the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 6-8, on Louisiana’s Ouachita River.
Other state leaders currently on deck to join him are Eric Hammer, Arizona; Ron Welch, California; Scott Sheldon, Colorado; Jason Hickey, Idaho; Toby Robinson, Nevada; Earl Conway, New Mexico; Cody King, Oregon; Mike Lavallee, Utah; Clint Johanson, Washington; and David Vega, Wyoming. To advance, the angler must remain tops in his state at the end of Day 3.
Tune in for the final day of competition on Bassmaster.com. Launch is at 6 a.m. MT Friday, May 23, at Lakeside Motel and Resort Boat Launch in Trout Creek, Mont. The weigh-in is in the same place at 2 p.m. MT.