Sometimes the elixir for a tough day of bass fishing blows in on the breeze.
The Alabama rig is a hot lure for wintertime bass fishing at Beaver and Table Rock lakes, but you won’t find one tied to Greg Bohannan’s fishing line because Alabama rigs are not allowed at Wal-Mart FLW Tour tournaments. An Alabama rig, also called an A-rig or umbrella rig, is like five or six lures in one. The lure looks like the skeleton of an open umbrella with a plastic grub or swim bait at the end of each spoke. Line is tied to the rig at the hub. The lure resembles a school of bait fish. Other tournament organizations have chosen to prohibit Alabama rigs in their event, but Bohannan said they’re definitely effective.
The glass-smooth surface of Table Rock Lake looked inviting for a tranquil cruise. When it comes to fishing, calm water can mean slow catching. Sunshine makes it tougher.
First light revealed a lake that was a long reflecting pool when Greg Bohannan of Bentonville launched his boat on the upstream end of Table Rock Lake at Eagle Rock park. The air hung moist and still as night turned to day, that magic time to be on the water.
No need to travel miles to get into good fishing on this mild Jan. 27, Bohannan said. He was already at his favorite part of the lake for catching a mess of black bass.
Bohannan, 45, is a pro angler on the Walmart FLW Tour and has notched some of his best tournaments at Table Rock. He’s finished seventh or higher at four of the last five FLW events he’s fished at the big lake. Table Rock is Bohannan’s turf.
“It’s like a golf course. Some golfers play their best game on a particular course,” he said.
So a little calm water isn’t going to rattle him. Game plan for this trip was to start at Eagle Rock and fish slowly upstream to Holiday Island. It’s his go-to area for laid back fishing, like today, or when his living is on the line.
“Even if a tournament is out of Kimberling City or Branson, I’ll motor up here,” he said. “It’s a long trip, but it’s worth it.”
Bohannan fishes the condition’s he’s given, “but on clear lakes like Table Rock or Beaver, fishing is always best if there’s some wind,” the pro said. Wind stirs things up, he said. It gets plankton moving and that attracts shad, which attracts game fish like black bass. Wind also reduces visibility underwater. Bass don’t see a fishing lure as clearly when there’s a chop.
An arsenal of tackle in his boat includes jerk baits and crank baits, Bohannan’s two favorite lures for wintertime bass fishing. First casts of the morning were made with a Skirmish Aim-7 jerk bait made by Skirmish Baits of Huntsville. Bohannan designed the color scheme on this particular bait and was proud to catch the day’s first bass with it.
“We call it the white-tail color because it has a little flash of white on the tail, just like a deer. When you jerk it, that white tail really flashes,” said Bohannan, whose other passion is archery deer hunting.
“With a jerk bait, I’ll fish it out a ways from the bank to try to catch any fish that are suspended. The water might be 60 feet deep but the bass might only be 10 feet deep,” he coached.
The jerk bait fooled another couple of bass, but Bohannan was waiting for that wind. He even tried his favorite point to get a bite, but nary a bass came to call.
Sunshine warmed the morning and ushered in a nice breeze. South wind rippled the water and brought a change in tactics. Bohannan switched from a jerk bait to a Skirmish A-10 crank bait painted to look like a crawdad. He uses red or green, depending on conditions.
“If the water temperature is below 55 degrees, or if the water is stained, I like the red color,” he said.
The lure earned its stripes when the bite picked up toward afternoon. Bohannan caught largemouth and spotted bass on the red Skirmish A-10 along rocky shorelines and points. If there’s standing timber, so much the better.
With a crank bait, Bohannan casts into shallow water and works the lure so it digs into rock and gravel as it swims. That catches shallow fish, but the sound sometimes draws bass from deep water to hit the lure, he said.
“It’s like a golf course. Some golfers play their best game on a particular course.”
— Greg Bohannan, pro angler, Bentonville
Bohannan had fished his way back toward Eagle Rock by midafternoon. He was again at that favorite point where he’d started the day with no fish. Time to give it another go, now with some wind.
No slack line this time. A chunky 2-pound largemouth nailed his crank bait on the first cast. The next bass was even bigger.
“There’s a big rock underwater right there. When that bait comes over that rock, the fish are nailing it,” Bohannan said. One point, three bass, with the last one pushing three pounds.
Those are the size of fish Bohannan hopes to catch when the Walmart FLW Tour comes to Beaver Lake on April 27-30 for the fifth tournament of the FLW season. This is the angler’s 10th season with the tour.
Bohannan is one of several FLW pros who do outreach work in every community they visit. At each stop he meets with youth groups in his “Reel Champions” program. He talks fishing, but more about getting involved in the community and being good citizens. The visits are part of the deal with his lead sponsor, Old Spice.
A little wind was all it took to spice up a day of Table Rock bass fishing.