WADDINGTON, N.Y. — As he motored back to the Whittaker Park check-in site Thursday afternoon, Cory Johnston thought he’d made the best of a bad situation. His day started with a blown outboard engine. A friend who lives nearby loaned him a boat, but the trolling motor bracket broke and was hanging by its cables as Johnston was catching fish.
Despite all that, Johnston caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces, in about two hours of fishing time. Mechanical problems had stolen three-fourths of his day.
“I started making my way back,” Johnston said “I thought I had tons of time. I took it easy, got gas. I thought I had an hour to spare. I got to a spot out here, looked at my cell phone and said, ‘That ain’t right.’ The graphs on my boat were an hour behind.”
Instead of having plenty of time to check in with 22-5, Johnston was seven minutes late, which cost him a pound-per-minute. Instead of being in 7th place in the tournament after Day 1, two pounds, two ounces behind his brother Chris, who is leading with 24-7, Cory was officially credited with 15-5, which left him in 60th place.
Finally, instead of moving up from third place in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, as he would have with 22-5, Johnston fell to 16th, based on the Day 1 standings. As you might imagine, the 34-year-old angler from Cavan, Ontario, was inconsolable.
“It’s the worst day of fishing I’ve ever had, not so much from catching ‘em, but from problems,” he said. “I probably blew my shot at Angler of the Year. I probably blew my shot at winning (the tournament).”