Ranger Boats pro angler Cory Johnston won the final Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Oneida Lake in New York state with a three-day total of 50 pounds, 4 ounces.
Johnston won $77,778, including a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp outboard. He entered the final day of the Aug. 18-20 tournament with more than a two-pound lead, but did not let the pressure of leading change his game plan.
"I just do my thing," Johnston said in a statement. "It doesn't really matter if I am in first or last. I still go out with the same mindset."
The remaining top-10 competitors fishing the final day were met with high winds and three-foot waves.
"The wind dirtied up the water so I had to rely on my electronics because I couldn't physically see the rocks anymore," Johnston said. "I was blind-casting to these rock piles."
Without being able to sight-fish, Johnston made small changes to his presentations and relied on precision casting to land quality fish.
"I obviously couldn't use a top-water," he said. "I used a lot of bottom presentations to drag across the rocks."
At the end of the final day, Johnston was one of only three anglers to bring in a five-fish limit. His 14 pounds, 1 ounce, bested the nearest competitor's overall weight by four pounds.
The win at Oneida earned Johnston the Northern Division Angler of the Year Award, giving him $2,000 and paid deposits for the 2017 season. This is Johnston's third divisional AOY title in the past five years, positioning him as one of the elite anglers on the Costa FLW Tour.
"It's a great feeling because it shows consistency throughout the year," said Johnston. "That's one of the things I feel I am good at — being consistent."
The AOY award highlights Johnston's fishing prowess to reliably finish high on the leaderboard, but the angler gives credit to his Ranger Z521C for always performing each day.
"I put in a lot of hours on the water, and to have a boat that's extremely reliable so you know you will get you where you need to be is a great feeling," Johnston said. "I pound it hard on rough waters and to not have to worry about dependability definitely helps. Ranger is hands down the best boat out there."