Johnston Leads Sam Rayburn Bassmaster Central Open

Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, put his experience as a guide on Sam Rayburn Reservoir to good use Thursday, putting 22 pounds of bass on the scales to claim the Day 1 in the Bassmaster Central Open on spacious Rayburn. “I came over here and did a lot of homework last week before the crowd got here,” Johnston said…

Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, put his experience as a guide on Sam Rayburn Reservoir to good use Thursday, putting 22 pounds of bass on the scales to claim the Day 1 in the Bassmaster Central Open on spacious Rayburn.

“I came over here and did a lot of homework last week before the crowd got here,” Johnston said. “The fishing’s really been tough, and each day I had 12 rods out on my deck.”

Johnston said he used a similar approach Thursday, throwing everything from topwater to bottom baits.

“I just covered a lot of water and got a couple of good bites,” Johnston said. “We probably fished 12 different places today.”

He only caught nine keeper bites all day, and said that the fish are temperamental right now because local temperatures have been moderate compared to the normal blistering late summer.

“The fish are in transition,” he explained. “It never gets this cold in August and early September, and it’s really got the bait messed up.”

Johnston said he felt good about his chances, based on a win he shared with his step son on the lake three weeks ago.

“We won with 19 ¾ (pounds), and you never win a team tournament with 19 pounds, so 22 (pounds) is definitely going to be a good start,” he said.

Just less than 2 pounds behind Johnston going into the second day is confident Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., who had 20 pounds, 5 ounces.

“I think I found a pattern, and I think I understand exactly what they’re doing,” Hallman said. “I’ve got one bait that I’m throwing that I caught them all on. I don’t catch a lot of fish, but when I catch them they’re big.”

While Johnston and Hallman were able to top 20 pounds, the bulk of the field struggled. It took only 11 ½ pounds to make the top 50, and the current top-30 cut was set by Texas’ Jerrel Pringle at 12-13.

However, Johnston said he wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“There are some of the top guys who live around here in this tournament and some of the top guys in the country here fishing,” he said. “There are a lot of guys here who can catch them.”

The real question is the weather, which today turned cloudy after the blue-bird skies of practice. Clouds are forecast to build tomorrow, with isolated thunderstorms expected by noon.

That could alter the entire tournament.

“That could make the topwater bite strong all day,” Texas’ Harold Allen said.

Johnston said that eventuality could really open the field.

“It we get some black clouds, the topwater bite will go nuts and everybody will catch them,” he said.

In third was Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, with 18-4. Faircloth will head from this event to the inaugural Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason, set for two Alabama cities, Wetumpka and Montgomery, on Sept. 12-18. In fourth was another Texan, Russell Parrish of Robinson, who had 17-5. In fifth was Tony Chachere of Opelousas, Texas, who had 17-3.

In the co-angler division, David Ozio of Texas leads with 10 pounds, 12 ounces. Louisiana’s Bill McCarty trailed by just 13 ounces with his 9-15 limit going into Day 2.

Once the final fish is weighed Friday, the field will be cut to the top 30 pros and co-anglers for Saturday’s final day of competition.

Fans also can watch live, streaming video of the weigh-ins on

Fans are invited to the Open’s Friday and Saturday takeoffs and weigh-ins at Plattsburgh Boat Basin at Umphrey Family Pavilion. Anglers will launch their boats at 6:45 a.m. CT and the weigh-ins are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m CT. All activities are free and open to the public.

Up next for the Central Opens is the final stop in the Central Open division, the Nov. 5-7 event on the Atchafalaya Basin out of Morgan City, La.

Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Opens: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.


2009 Central 2 – Sam Rayburn, TX BO 09/03-09/05 Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Texas (BOATER) Standings Day 1

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Stephen Johnston Hemphill, Texas 5 22-00
Day 1: 5 22-00

2. Bradley Hallman Norman, Okla. 5 20-05
Day 1: 5 20-05

3. Todd Faircloth Jasper, Texas 5 18-04
Day 1: 5 18-04

4. Russell Parrish Robinson, Texas 5 17-05
Day 1: 5 17-05

5. Tony Chachere Opelousas, La. 5 17-03
Day 1: 5 17-03

6. Roy Sanford Brookeland, Texas 5 16-13
Day 1: 5 16-13

7. Yukinari Uchiyama Dallas, Texas 5 16-06
Day 1: 5 16-06

8. Craig Dowling Shreveport, La. 5 16-04
Day 1: 5 16-04

9. Landon Ware Jewett, Texas 5 15-10
Day 1: 5 15-10

10. Corey Waldrop Fort Worth, Texas 5 15-07
Day 1: 5 15-07

About BASS

For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

As the flagship offering of ESPN Outdoors, the Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in,, and; and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women’s Tour, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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