November 8, 2007 by Rob Newell
MOBILE, Ala. - When Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., opened his weigh-in bag Thursday afternoon to pull out two of his best bass for photos, the cat jumped out, too.
That's because Bohannan's sack contained five spotted bass weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce - enough for the day-one Stren Series Championship lead and enough information to reveal that Bohannan is fishing far up the Alabama River, where the current can sustain a population of spotted bass.
His spots gave away his spot, so to speak. And he was not the only one in the top 10 to be displaying spots. Greg Vinson, fourth, and Ronnie Hopkins, eighth, also had spotted bass filling out their limits.
"Yeah, it's no secret now," laughed Bohannan after showing off his spotted bass. "I'm fishing way up the Alabama River. In fact, I almost ran out of gas coming back this afternoon. I actually had to throttle it back to save fuel during the ride home, and I still barely made it.
"At noon, I didn't have much in the livewell, so I ran up a little farther than I had planned on, and that little extra run burned more gas than I had intended. But it paid off. Late this afternoon the current picked up, and it helped the bite tremendously - that's when I really started catching them."
In all, Bohannan, who is the 2007 Angler of the Year from the Stren Series Central Division, caught about 12 keepers.
"I spent my whole practice time dissecting a five-mile area of the river up there," he added. "I practiced down here (in the marsh) for about two hours one day, got stuck on a sandbar and decided to commit to the river for the tournament."
As for tomorrow, Bohannan says he will go back to his fish and catch everything he can.
"I tried to conserve my fish in the championship last year, and it burned me, so I'm going to fish as hard as I can right up to the last minute tomorrow."
Lane lines up second
Checking in 11 pounds, 11 ounces for the second-place position was Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla.
But there were no long runs or spotted bass for Lane today. He fished just minutes from the ramp.
"I made about a five-minute run from here to the back of a little creek," Lane said. "I found it late on the last day of practice; I got a few bites pretty quick back there, so I figured it must have been overlooked.
"I went in there this morning and caught my limit in about 15 flips. After I left, I did go check another spot and caught a 3-pounder that helped me cull up."
Lane said the creek featured "deep, cutaway bends with plenty of grass blown up on the banks - the kind of stuff I like to flip."
Jeremy Lawyer of Sarcoxie, Mo., is in third place with five largemouths weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces.
"I'm not doing anything special," Lawyer said. "I'm beating the banks like everyone else - flipping and pitching cypress trees. I just happened to catch three really good fish today. I have not caught a 3-pounder since I've been here, and today I caught a 3 1/2-(pounder) plus two other solid fish. I guess I was due."
As mentioned previously, Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., joined in on the spotted bass brigade today by traveling a long way to catch five spots for 10 pounds, 15 ounces.
He, too, mentioned that his long ride put a dent in his gas tank, claiming that he came in on fumes.
"I've got two rods on my deck," Vinson said. "One is rigged with a shaky head and the other is rigged with a shaky head - that's all I'm throwing.
"These spotted bass are all current-related fish for sure," he added. "I only have about four hours to fish up there, but I caught about 10 keepers in that time, and I think there are plenty more fish in the area."
Like Bohannan, Vinson noted that he cannot run full throttle to his primary location because he must save gas.
"I actually made a practice run up there before the tournament to find the optimum RPM range to save gas," he said. "And that Yamaha is doing its job getting me up there and back."
Mike Jackson of San Mateo, Fla., sacked five largemouths for 10 pounds, 9 ounces to start the championship in fifth place.
Jackson is employing a run-and-gun strategy on the Mobile Delta, hitting dozens of spots across a broad expanse of water and spending just a few casts on each spot.
"I've got a bunch of single spots in my GPS that I found in practice, and I'm running to one, making a couple of casts, running to the next one, making a couple of casts, and so on. I burned 45 gallons of gas running around today and ended up with seven keepers total."
Hiroshi Kojima of Athens, Ala., caught the big bass in the Pro Division on day one weighing 4 pounds, 11 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series Championship after day one:
6th: James Kemper of Frankfort, Ky., five bass, 9-14
7th: David Truax of Beaumont, Texas, five bass, 9-11
8th: Ronnie Hopkins of Mounds, Okla., five bass, 9-9
9th: Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, five bass, 9-3
10th: David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, five bass, 9-1
Loerzel, Reiter tied for co-angler lead
Co-anglers Chuck Loerzel of Yorkville, Ill., and Leo Reiter of Goshen, Ind., are tied for the Stren Series Championship lead after day one, both with 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Loerzel fished a shaky-head worm behind pro Sean Stafford today.
"I've fished a shaky-head worm all year, and it got me to the championship, so I kept using it today," Loerzel said. "I caught a limit on the shaky head and then culled up with a ring worm."
Reiter also used finesse tactics to catch his five-bass limit behind pro David Curtis. He caught six keepers total, allowing him to cull up once.
Rest of the best
Bo Middleton of Elgin, Okla., is in third place with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces.
Fresh off back-to-back FLW Series Western Division wins, National Guard co-angler Justin Lucas of Folsom, Calif., is in fourth with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
Wayne Frierson of Manning, S.C., is in fifth place with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Stren Series Championship after day one:
6th: Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., five bass, 6-6
6th: Ray Pearce of Arlington, Texas, five bass, 6-6
8th: Brad Stewart of Hutto, Texas, five bass, 6-1
9th: Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss., five bass, 5-15
10th: Earl Ellerbee of Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 5-13
Day two of the Stren Series Championship will begin at 7 a.m. at the Chocolotta Bay Ramp, located at 1595 Battleship Parkway in Mobile.