Shocked Johnson Wins Open
Aaron Johnson of Bossier City, La., walked away Saturday from the Bassmaster Central Open on Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Tennessee with a win at 47 pounds, 14 ounces, and enough points to give him a clean shot at one of the Open's tickets to the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
Competing this year at the Open level for the first time, Johnson claimed the $42,429 first prize and catapulted from 25th into second place in the race to qualify for the Feb. 20-22 Classic out of his hometown, Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and on his home water, the Red River.
The Classic berths will be awarded after the season's final event, Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Lake Texoma out of Denison, Texas. The top 10 in the points standings will be invited to join the 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series, the highest level of BASS competition.
Johnson was ninth after the first day with 15-8, then started the final day in fifth place, he made up the difference with a 15-11 bag.
"I thought I would have to catch 17 to 18 pounds to have an opportunity to win. I really didn't think the fish I had today were as big as they were. I'm really shocked," said Johnson, 35, manager for a Web-based payroll service company.
Johnson said he stayed on Kentucky Lake to collect his three five-fish limits, rotating between two shallow, grassy areas west of the main river channel, about 20 miles south of the Paris Landing launch area. The water depth was 3 to 4 feet.
"I caught all of my fish, except for two late ones, on a Reaction Innovations' Sweat Beaver, the California 420 and Okeechobee Craw colors. It was completely a reaction bite in the grass. I was fishing 50-pound Sufix braid with a 1-ounce tungsten weight and 4/0 straight-shank hook.
"I pitched that 1-ounce weight with the Beaver for three days, plus four practice days. I'd flip it through the mats, and they'd hit it on the fall.
"The turning point of the whole event for me was on the first day, when I caught a 6-pounder at 1:30 — I had to be back in by 2:30 — and realized I had to stick with that pattern."