By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
On the heels of his worst season as a tour-level pro in 2019, Greg Bohannan has a chance to bounce back with his best as the FLW Pro Circuit season resumes this week at Lake Chickamauga following the lengthy shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Arkansan, now in his 14th year on the circuit, has developed a recent tendency of alternating good and bad seasons. He was 22nd on the final points list in 2016, then 95th the following year. He bounced back with a 21st in '18 before plummeting to 101st last year.
He'll go into the Chickamauga derby at No. 10 after his 6th-place showing at the most recent event at Lake Martin back in March. It'll be the first of the three "super tournaments" that will combine the full 153-angler Pro Circuit field with 56 Bass Pro Tour competitors. The BPT guys will compete for shares of the enhanced prize purse, but won't be eligible for Angler of the Year points.
"I think it's awesome and I'm super-stoked about it," he said. "There's the additional prize money and more media attention. We've never combined two major tours before in the middle of a season and I think it's a really cool format."
About to Shift Gears
Bohannan was able to fish to his strengths in the first three Pro Circuit tournaments of 2020 and garnered a paycheck at each. He focused on shallow grass Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas, where he was 21st, and the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida (67th). He then found a setup much to his liking at Alabama's Lake Martin.
"I caught a lot of fish on a Strike King Thunder Cricket at those first two, which is something I really like throwing," he said. "Then I felt right at home at Martin – it reminded me so much of my home waters here at Beaver Lake. I went with the old-school Carolina rig, fishing for deep spotted bass, and I just felt real comfortable."
In all likelihood, the Chickamauga event will be won from deep-water ledges. He spent a lot of time around Mark Rose and Randy Haynes when all there were fishing FLW and says he considers himself a pretty competent shelf-prober, but the problem at Chickamauga will be that there aren't nearly enough ledges to go around for a 209-angler field.
"The number of boats is going to be a huge factor in this tournament, especially at Chick, which has the fewest number of ledges on it of any of the Tennessee River lakes," he said. "That's going to have to be part of everybody's game plan. It'll kind of be like a sight-fishing tournament – if you get an early boat number, you'll probably get a good spot. If you get a late boat number, you're going to need some type of backup plan.
"With that many boats, some guys will get checks fishing shallow – they always do just about anywhere we go."
Not Focused on Numbers
Bohannan was primarily a football player (defensive end and nose guard) at Arkansas Tech, but also spent two season on the school's baseball team as an outfielder/designated hitter. He views keeping close tabs on the AOY race in the same way he used to look at baseball statistics.
"If you're thinking about your batting average, it's probably going to go down," he said. "I don't want to think about that stuff – I want to keep the focus on each day and every bite."
After Chick, the Pro Circuit will visit the Mississippi River (La Crosse, Wis.) and the Detroit River in Michigan to conclude the regular season. He's never fared particularly well at La Crosse, but has usually managed to finish in the money in the Motor City.
"I've been to La Crosse three or four times now, so I like my odds – maybe I'm due for a good one. I've always caught a lot of fish, but I need to figure out a way to catch those 2 1/2-pounders instead of the 2s.
"My goal every year is to make the championship and I'm in good shape for that, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win (a Pro Circuit tournament) really bad. I've won at every other level and I'd definitely like to win a tour event."
> Bohannan was disappointed that the Lake Dardanelle event in his home state had to be canceled due to the pandemic. "It's a lake I like really well and I think I had a good chance because it would've fished tough this time of year, but that's the way it goes."
> He did a lot of fishing with 11-year-old son Brock during the COVID-19 break. They pursued bass often, but even more frequently went after crappie on Beaver or Table Rock.
> He helps coach Brock's youth football team in the fall and they're still waiting to find out whether there will be a 2020 season.