Elite

Daily Limit: Johnstons fish for cause with Luke Bryan

Bassmaster Elite Series tournament pros can create all sorts of connections, from adoring young fans to supportive celebrities.

Chris Johnston, the first Canadian to win an Elite tournament, experienced the latter when he was recently invited to spend a day fishing with country music artist Luke Bryan. Chris and his brother Cory were among pro anglers who auctioned a day on the water as part of a charity event at Bryan’s farm near Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s amazing the amount of doors fishing has opened,” Chris said, adding he’s become friends with Bryan, a five-time Entertainer of the Year. “It’s pretty cool. It was just a fun day and for a good cause.”

The Johnstons, along with Bill Dance, Kevin VanDam and Bryan, fished with highest bidders to benefit to The Brett Boyer Foundation, which works to raise awareness for congenital heart disease (CHD) and Down syndrome.

“People pay to get in this event, and they raffle off places in the boats,” Johnston said. “There were the four boats, and we had a mini tournament on Luke Bryan’s home pond. It’s a 20-acre bass fishing lake, and it’s got some giant bass in it.”

There were some side bets and, as usual, the Johnstons landed some lunkers to help raise $160,000 for the fishing portion of event. The Fourth Annual BrightforBrett day included several other venues, like skeet shooting, trout fishing and defensive shooting. 

“They had games all day then they had a private concert that night,” Johnston said. “Jason Aldean, a couple other country artists, they played for probably three or four hours. It was a good time.”

Bryan and wife, Caroline, support numerous charities. After the death of her niece, she established Brett’s Barn on their farm. It is a sanctuary for rescue animals and hosts sick children for interaction. As board members of the foundation, the Bryans hold fundraisers for CHD and Down syndrome research to advance treatment options.

Originally a songwriter for the likes of Travis Tritt, Bryan signed a recording contract with Capital Nashville in 2007 and has since sold more than 75 million records. He has had 27 No. 1 hits on his first 10 albums, and his 2013 “Crash My Party” was given the first Album of the Decade award from the Academy of Country Music in 2019. Bryan has also served as a judge on American Idol since 2018.

Johnston said he and Cory met Bryan probably eight years ago.

“Up here in Canada, we reconnected about three or four years ago, and he’s invited us down a couple times,” Johnston said. “Two Lane Beer is a sponsor of mine, and he’s a part owner of it. He has a lot of money invested in the outdoor industry.”

B.A.S.S. CEO Chase Anderson was among the attendees of the event.