Bo­han­nan ready for heat at For­rest Wood Cup

Au­gust fish­ing chal­lenges 53 at Fish­ing League World­wide cham­pi­onship in South Carolina

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NWA OUTDOORS - FLIP PUTTHOFF

Run­ning miles in the heat is one way pro an­gler Greg Bo­han­nan of Ben­tonville gets ready for a cham­pi­onship bass tour­na­ment.

Tem­per­a­tures could reach triple dig­its at Lake Mur­ray in South Carolina where Bo­han­nan will com­pete with 52 other an­glers in the 2017 For­rest Wood Cup, the cham­pi­onship of the FLW Tour. The tour­na­ment is Aug. 11-13 at the 50,000-acre reser­voir near Columbia, S.C. The win­ner gets $300,000.

Bo­han­nan has been run­ning four miles a day in the mid­dle of the af­ter­noon so he’ll be ready to fish for hours in the Au­gust heat and hu­mid­ity. This is the fifth time Bo­han­nan has qual­i­fied for the FLW cham­pi­onship. He just wrapped up his 10th year com­pet­ing on the FLW Tour. FLW stands for Fish­ing League World­wide.

Qual­i­fy­ing for the For­rest Wood Cup is Bo­han­nan’s top goal when an FLW sea­son starts, usu­ally in Jan­uary. That wasn’t a con­cern this year. He’d al­ready qual­i­fied by fin­ish­ing fourth in the Costa Se­ries Cham­pi­onship in Novem­ber 2016 at Ta­ble Rock Lake. The strong fin­ish came with an au­to­matic berth in the For­rest Wood Cup.

Catch­ing bass at Lake Mur­ray may be as chal­leng­ing as fish­ing in the heat.

“The wa­ter is clear. It’s Au­gust and it’ll be hard to get many bites,” Bo­han­nan said.

For­rest Wood Cup con­tes­tants get a four-day prac­tice pe­riod be­fore com­pe­ti­tion starts on Aug. 11.

He’ll pre­pare the same for the cham­pi­onship as he does for reg­u­lar sea­son FLW events.

“The dif­fer­ence is I have to be phys­i­cally ready to be in the heat for sev­eral days straight,” he said. To fig­ure out how to catch bass, he’ll work the wa­ter at all depths.

“I’ll start shal­low with a buzz bait and a square-bill crank bait, then go deeper with a lure like a jig and pig,” Bo­han­nan said.

Lake Mur­ray is like a big ver­sion of Loch Lomond reser­voir in Bella Vista, he said. There are a lot of docks, grassy shore­lines and un­der­wa­ter veg­e­ta­tion.

While threadfin shad are the pri­mary bait fish for black bass in Ozarks lakes, blue her­ring is the main for­age for bass at Lake Mur­ray. Skir­mish Baits of Hindsville is one of Bo­han­nan’s spon­sors and the com­pany is paint­ing some swim baits for him that look like blue her­ring.

The main dif­fer­ence in the 2017 FLW cham­pi­onship com­pared to the first four is that Bo­han­nan feels more re­laxed. He’s ea­ger for a shot at the six-fig­ure prize and other perks that win­ning the tour­na­ment brings.

“Win­ning it puts you in a dif­fer­ent class of fish­er­man. There have only been 18 For­rest Wood Cup win­ners and no one has ever won twice,” he said.

“I’d like to win it most of all for my fam­ily and my spon­sors, some who’ve been with me for my whole ca­reer,”

said Bo­han­nan, whose main spon­sor is Old Spice. “If you win, you’re on ev­ery bass fish­ing web­site there is and you’re on the cover of bass fish­ing magazines.”

No doubt For­rest Wood Cup com­peti­tors will face tough sum­mer fish­ing, but that’s part of why the cham­pi­onship is held in Au­gust, said Joe Opager with FLW.

“Au­gust is widely known to be one of the tough­est times of the year to catch fish. It

pro­vides the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for our an­glers to show­case their skills in a tough, grind­ing event,” Opager said.

“The FLW sea­son runs Jan­uary through June so it makes sense to have the cham­pi­onship at the end of the sea­son, like other sports,” he added.

Au­gust is also a time when lots of fam­i­lies plan va­ca­tions, Opager noted. It al­lows more fam­i­lies of the fish­er­men to come to the For­rest Wood Cup. That in­cludes the Bo­han­nan clan.

His wife, Holly, and son Brock will be there. So will aunts and un­cles. “We all rent a big house to­gether and have a re­ally great time,” he said.

He and other FLW pros will do some out­reach work at the event.

“About five of us are go­ing to do a hos­pi­tal visit. We’re tak­ing some gift bags to a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.”

There’s fam­ily, fun and fish­ing for the pro from Ben­tonville. Hope­fully this year, fifth time’s a charm, Bo­han­nan said.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fput­thoff@nwadg.com or on

Cour­tesy photo

Greg Bo­han­nan will com­pete Aug. 11-13 in his fifth For­rest Wood Cup at Lake Mur­ray in Columbia, S.C.

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