An­gler rolls at the rock

Breeze, clouds aid bass fish­ing at lake.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - FLIP PUTTHOFF

Some­times the elixir for a tough day of bass fish­ing blows in on the breeze.

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

“It’s like a golf course. Some golfers play their best game on a par­tic­u­lar course.” — Greg Bo­han­nan, Pro-An­gler, Ben­tonville

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.

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Greg Bo­han­nan catches a bass with a Skir­mish crank bait. He likes a red color bait if the wa­ter is be­low 55 de­grees.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

One of three large­mouth bass Bo­han­nan caught Jan. 27 at one point on the up­stream end of Ta­ble Rock Lake. Bo­han­nan is a pro an­gler on the Walmart FLW Tour.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

This spot­ted bass was caught by Bo­han­nan with a Skir­mish Aim-7 jerk bait. Bo­han­nan de­signed the color scheme on this par­tic­u­lar bait.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

A Skir­mish A-10 crank bait is also used by Greg Bo­han­nan to catch bass. He prefers red or green de­pend­ing on wa­ter clar­ity.

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