Editor's note: This year, the Johnston brothers will share a monthly column where both will offer insight and information on a variety of topics.
Chris: These are obviously difficult times for a lot of people, whether you're here in Canada, down in the States, or anywhere the coronavirus is right now. For me, I'm kind of unplugged and doing the family thing. We're supposed to isolate ourselves, and honestly, being at home is a nice break after two months of travels.
Cory: I'm doing the same. I've actually been going fishing in the mornings, by myself — just trying to stay away from everyone. The border is closed to non-essential travel.
Chris: We recently came back over the border from our trip down south for the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. Normally, customs asks us if we're bringing in any firearms, alcohol or tobacco. When we first crossed to go to the Classic, customs asked if we'd travelled to China. But crossing back into Ontario, they asked us if we'd left North America in the last three months. So that changed. And I heard the U.S. side turned someone around who was trying to go to Florida. It's definitely getting tighter. When the Elite Series does start up again, hopefully the border will be open, and we won't encounter any issues.
Cory: Yeah, each week we wait for a Thursday email from B.A.S.S. updating us on tournament status and plans. I imagine B.A.S.S. is going to shut more events down — I don't see how they couldn't. Chickamauga is postponed, and right now we're waiting to hear about the status of Santee-Cooper. We're staying busy though. We have a business here at home that helps us out. It's called Peterborough Battery, and we service retail, automotive, marine — pretty much everything. It's not as if small businesses like ours are flourishing right now, but it does help.
And something really cool that B.A.S.S. recently did is they're sending each angler $2,500, because B.A.S.S. knows that the way we make a living is through tournaments. If tournaments are cancelled, anglers can't earn a living. So B.A.S.S. is sending the $2,500 to help everyone get by a little longer. It's like an advance — the next tournament, if you win $10,000, you'll get paid $7,500. It's a good thing. There's a little glitch in the system right now, and if everyone does what they need to do, we'll be back out there in no time, I'm sure.
Chris: Also, we're doing some promotional work. We hired a photographer for the Bassmaster Classic — an independent guy — so we have a lot of footage and new photos. We're editing all that and you should see it on our social media soon. We're also starting a YouTube channel. The name is Johnston Brothers Outdoors, and we have a test video up right now of our dog. But everyone can visit and subscribe and that way you'll know as soon as we post our first fishing video.
Cory: I hope our YouTube videos turn out better than our Bassmaster Classic finishes. We both had really high hopes for our first Classic, but I finished 47th (out of 53), and Chris finished 34th. Not good. My plan was this: I was getting some bites out on the deeper edge of the eel grass in practice, so I kept looking for more and more of that. The last day of practice, I went up shallow and had two big bites. But it was just one of those things where I decided to live and die in the deep stuff. The first day the wind blew, everything got muddy and that hurt me.
Chris: My practice was surprisingly decent. For a while it was one fish here, one fish there, but then, on the last practice day, I found one little 100-yard stretch of gator grass where I caught a 7-pounder and shook another big fish off. There was another boat in the area, but I gambled and decided to start there. My stops just didn't work out — there were other boats — and the wind took away the good fish that we were catching out deeper.
Cory: It's definitely a disappointment. But at the same time it makes us hungrier for the next one.
Chris: Yeah, I was disappointed with the outcome, but still very happy to be there. A lot of anglers dream about making the Classic their whole lives. I set the bar a little low and that just makes me want to do a whole lot better at the next one.