By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Most of the anglers who weighed strong bags on day 1 of the St. Lawrence River Bassmaster Elite Series repeated that feat on day 2 – there were only two changes among the top 10 in the standings as the event reached its midway point. A weather shift is in store for day 3, however, and the leaders seem uncertain as to how it might affect the bite at what might be the most prolific smallmouth fishery on the planet.

Chris Johnston, who resides in the nearby Canadian province of Ontario, remained atop the standings by catching a 22-13 stringer that gave him a two-day total of 47-04. He has a 15-ounce edge over 2nd-place Steve Kennedy, who boxed 22-14 on day 2 for a 46-05 aggregate.

Rookie Greg DiPalma moved up one place to 3rd with 45-01 via a 21-11 sack. Ray Hanselman jumped two positions to 4th with 44-10 (22-00 on day 2). Veterans Bill Lowen and Brian Snowden were deadlocked in 5th with 44-07 apiece after second-round hauls that weighed 23-04 and 22-06, respectively.

The remainder of the top 10 consists of Shane LeHew with 44-05 (21-05 on day 2), Keith Combs with 43-14 (22-09), Scott Canterbury with 43-02 (19-10) and Chris Zaldain with 42-03 (22-07).

Lowen and Zaldain were the only newcomers to the top 10. They supplanted rookie Lee Livesay (8th to 17th with 17-02 on day 2) and 2018 Rookie of the Year Jake Whitaker (9th to 26th, 16-01).

After two days that featured partly cloudy skies, the 75-angler field should see a lot more clouds tomorrow and possibly some thunderstorms. The WeatherChannel.com forecast for the Waddington, N.Y. area calls for a high temperature of 80 degrees and a moderate breeze out of the south/southwest.

Drew Cook, the rookie from Florida who entered the event leading the Angler of the Year race, made a big jump from 45th to 24th with a 20-11 stringers. He'll get another chance to improve his standing on day 3 in a quest to remain as close to the top slot (now occupied by Johnston) as possible.

Cory Johnston (Chris' brother) was first out of the top-35 cut. He would've been among the top 10, but incurred a 7-pound lateness penalty on day 1 as the clock on the electronics unit of a boat he'd borrowed after his experienced mechanical difficulties was running an hour later than the actual time.

Chris Johnston caught about a pound and a half less than he did the previous day, but his leading margin stayed exactly the same.

"It was a little tougher, for sure," he said. "I figured that would be the case because my best place is shallow and I've been sharing it with another guy. There's definitely not as many quality fish left and the ones that are there are definitely skiddish.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Steve Kennedy moved into 2nd place as his day-2 bag weighed a bit more than he'd anticipated.

"I can't spend too long there tomorrow – I'll obviously start there and I'll try to get two or three that are over 4 pounds, then I'll have to scramble up the other ones from somewhere else."

His bag was headed up by a pair of 4 3/4-pounders. He lost one that same size, and also a 5-pounder.

"Tomorrow will probably be even tougher because I don't think the weather's going to be good for what I'm doing at all. I'll probably have to go out and do a little deep fishing."

The scale registered Kennedy's bag as being a bit heavier than he'd anticipated – it was just over a half-pound lighter than his day-1 haul.

"Execution-wise, I had a much better day," he said. "I lost one big one that I hooked and another one that bit me two different times, but I lost four or five yesterday so I'm pretty tickled with how today went."

He boated two bronzebacks that weighed over 5 pounds each – one that he enticed with a hair jig and one that fell for a large swimbait. But like Johnston, he feels as if he's running out of catchable fish in his best shallow locale.

"I caught some smaller ones out deeper from a place that's not too far away, but they won't do me any good. There's several good limits within sight of where I am, but they're so finicky. I've got some better ones that are 30 minutes away, but it's just one here and one there and it's hard to make that kind of run for one fish."

DiPalma is fishing deeper (30 to 35 feet) than the two anglers in front of him and is sharing water with Jamie Hartman, who made the cut in 29th. He caught all of his day-2 weight on a Carolina rig after employing a jig on day 1.

He boxed two slab smallmouths that both weighed 5-10.

"I got maybe 10 bites total, but five of them were the right ones," he said. "It's definitely gotten harder to get bites.

"I don't even want to guess on how the weather might affect things because I'd probably say one thing and it'd turn out to be the opposite. I'm just going to hunker down and take it for all it's worth."

Notable

> Day 2 stats – 75 anglers, 74 limits (1 fewer than day 1).

Weather Forecast

> Sat., Aug. 17 – P.M. Thunderstorms – 80°/64°
- Wind: From the SSW at 7 mph

> Sun., Aug. 18 – Partly Cloudy – 85°/69°
- Wind: From the SSW at 5 mph

1. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON -- 10 -- 47-04 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 24-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-13

2. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 10, 46-05 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 23-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14

3. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 10, 45-01 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 23-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11

4. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 10, 44-10 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 22-00

5. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 10, 44-07 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 21-03 -- Day 2: 5, 23-04

6. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 10, 44-07 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 22-01 -- Day 2: 5, 22-06

7. Shane LeHew -- Catawba, NC -- 10, 44-05 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 23-00 -- Day 2: 5, 21-05

8. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 10, 43-14 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 21-05 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09

9. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 10, 43-02 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 23-08 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10

10. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 10, 42-03 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 22-07

11. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 10, 41-13 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 23-06

12. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 10, 41-05 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10

13. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 10, 40-10 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 19-04 -- Day 2: 5, 21-06

14. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 10, 40-03 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 19-02 -- Day 2: 5, 21-01

15. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 10, 40-01 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 20-10 -- Day 2: 5, 19-07

16. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 10, 39-11 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12

17. Lee Livesay -- Gladewater, TX -- 10, 39-02 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 22-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-02

18. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 10, 39-00 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 19-08 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08

19. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 10, 38-13 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00

20. Derek Hudnall -- Baton Rouge, LA -- 10, 38-11 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 17-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-00

21. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 10, 38-09 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 19-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-11

22. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 10, 38-04 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-09

23. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 10, 38-03 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-13

24. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 10, 38-02 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 17-07 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11

25. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 10, 37-14 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 17-15

26. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 10, 37-13 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 21-12 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01

27. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 10, 37-12 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 17-13

28. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 10, 37-11 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04

29. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 10, 37-10 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 21-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-06

30. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 10, 37-10 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 16-09 -- Day 2: 5, 21-01

31. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 10, 37-07 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04

32. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON 10 -- 37-05 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 18-02 -- Day 2: 5, 19-03

33. Jesse Tacoronte -- Kissimmee, FL -- 10, 37-02 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 19-13

34. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 10, 37-00 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 18-03

35. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 10, 36-14 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 3.

36. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 10, 36-12 -- 65 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 15-05 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07

37. Harvey Horne -- Bella Vista, AR -- 10, 36-12 -- 64 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04

38. Mike Huff -- Corbin, KY -- 10, 36-10 -- 63 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 16-05 -- Day 2: 5, 20-05

39. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 10, 36-08 -- 62 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 16-03

40. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 10, 36-07 -- 61 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 18-09 -- Day 2: 5, 17-14

41. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 10, 36-03 -- 60 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 14-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-13

42. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 10, 36-02 -- 59 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 19-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-14

43. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 10, 36-01 -- 58 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14

44. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 10, 35-10 -- 57 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-13

45. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 10, 35-07 -- 56 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-01

46. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 10, 35-05 -- 55 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-14 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07

47. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 10, 35-02 -- 54 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 18-14 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04

48. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 10, 34-06 -- 53 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 13-14

49. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 10, 34-02 -- 52 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 16-01 -- Day 2: 5, 18-01

50. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 10, 33-15 -- 51 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-14

51. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 10, 33-13 -- 50 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 15-13 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00

52. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 10, 33-11 -- 49 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 13-08 -- Day 2: 5, 20-03

53. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 10, 32-13 -- 48 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 19-04 -- Day 2: 5, 13-09

54. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 10, 32-13 -- 47 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-01

55. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 10, 32-06 -- 46 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-04 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

56. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 10, 32-02 -- 45 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-08 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10

57. Patrick Walters -- Summerville, SC -- 10, 32-01 -- 44 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15

58. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 10, 31-14 -- 43 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07

59. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 10, 31-08 -- 42 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-07

60. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS 10 -- 31-02 -- 41 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 10-05 -- Day 2: 5, 20-13

61. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 10, 31-02 -- 40 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 18-10 -- Day 2: 5, 12-08

62. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 10, 30-07 -- 39 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 17-06 -- Day 2: 5, 13-01

63. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 10, 30-05 -- 38 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 10-13 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08

64. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 10, 30-04 -- 37 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 12-01

65. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 10, 30-01 -- 36 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 13-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04

66. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 10, 29-10 -- 35 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-10 -- Day 2: 5, 17-00

67. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 10, 29-08 -- 34 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 15-08 -- Day 2: 5, 14-00

68. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 10, 28-15 -- 33 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 13-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

69. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 10, 27-13 -- 32 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 16-07 -- Day 2: 5, 11-06

70. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 10, 27-11 -- 31 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-09 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02

71. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 10, 26-05 -- 30 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 10-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-07

72. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 10, 25-09 -- 29 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-07

73. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 9, 23-01 -- 28 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 4, 08-10

74. Rob Digh -- Denver, NC -- 10, 22-06 -- 27 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 08-09 -- Day 2: 5, 13-13

75. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 10, 21-12 -- 26 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 07-15 -- Day 2: 5, 13-13