UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

All tied up

All tied up
Keith Williams of Conway, Ark., found himself with a share of the lead in the Pro Division after landing a 14-pound, 7-ounce catch.

Local angler Bohannon, FLW Tour pro Williams share lead at $3.6 million Ranger M1 tourney

MOBILE, Ala. - For the past three years, Jerry Bohannon has not had many chances to go fishing. Nor, for that matter, has he even had a chance to live a normal life. Diagnosed with a life-threatening form of liver cancer a few years back after receiving a tainted blood transfusion, Bohannon has been in and out of hospitals, wheelchairs, and clinics for longer than he'd care to remember. However, none of that was going to stop Bohannon from fishing the $3.6 million Ranger M1 tournament on the Mobile Delta. And somehow, as fate would have it, nothing was going to prevent Bohannon from grabbing a share of the day-one lead in the most prestigious bass-fishing tournament in the history of the sport.

Using a 14-pound, 7-ounce catch, Bohannon tied Keith Williams of Conway, Ark., for a share of the leaderboard heading into the second day of M1 competition. But in truth, it was an outcome that Bohannon couldn't even have dreamed of a few months earlier.

"It actually feels really good to be here because the last three years I've been battling cancer," said Bohannon, who spent more than six months in a wheelchair before recovering enough to get back into a boat and continue his fishing career. "The cancer is in remission now, but I've only been able to fish three tournaments over the last year. Before that, I could barely stand up."

While Bohannon may walk a little slowly and be confined to a special pair of orthopedic shoes, his love of fishing as well as his formidable knowledge of his native waters of the Mobile Delta appear to have reenergized the seven-year pro.

"Right now I feel very confident about winning this tournament," said Bohannon, who targeted deep banks and structure with tube baits and jigs on the first day of the tournament. "I'll be pumped up and ready to go tomorrow, that's for sure."

Williams joins Bohannon in lead

Williams, who concentrated on flipping tubes and jigs in shallow water during the first day of the tournament, said he was more than pleased with his performance so far.

"I've never fished the Mobile Delta before, so overall I'm pretty happy," he said. "My goal was to come here and look for water that I was familiar with. I'm used to fishing the Arkansas River and I just tried to find areas that I was comfortable fishing. I wasn't trying to do anything different technique wise."

With tomorrow's top-20 cut expected to hover around the 14-pound range, it appears that Williams might have already caught enough fish to advance to Friday's semifinals. Consequently, Williams said he is going to use tomorrow's competition as more of a reconnaissance mission.

"I'm not going to try and catch 10 pounds tomorrow," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to use tomorrow to find another fishing area, because I don't think the (fishing spot) I have now will hold up for too much longer."

Best of the rest

Randy Blaukat of Lamar, Mo., finished the day in third place after landing a 13-pound, 15-ounce catch. Blaukat said that the key to his performance was putting any thoughts of potential prize money out of his mind.

"You've got to take it one bite at a time and not focus on the money," he said. "Otherwise, you'll be in trouble."

Rounding out the top five were Greg Hackney (fourth) of Oak Ridge, La., with a catch of 13 pounds, 9 ounces; and David Fritts (fifth) of Lexington, N.C., with a catch of 13 pounds, 3 ounces.

The real Deal

Ryan Deal of Haubstadt, Ind., used a 10-pound, 7-ounce catch to grab first place in the Co-angler Division and all but assure himself a spot in Friday's semifinals.

"My performance today takes a lot of pressure off for tomorrow," said Deal, who expects the top-20 co-angler cut to come in somewhere between 6 and 7 pounds. "Everything seems to be working out so far. I feel really good about tomorrow."

Deal said the key to fishing the Mobile Delta this week is to slow down lure presentations whenever possible.

"With this type of weather - strong winds and cold water - you have to fish really slowly," said Deal, who is throwing a jig like most of the successful anglers in the tournament to date.

Although Deal is concentrating on fishing, he said it is hard not to think about the record payday of $150,000 to $250,000 awaiting the winner of the Co-angler Division.

"I fish a lot of tournaments, but fishing for this kind of money is just a great opportunity," said Deal, who landed one of the largest fish in the tournament so far at 6 pounds, 8 ounces. "I'd be really excited to be there on that final day."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top five contestants in the Co-angler Division were Ron Moake (second) of Columbia City, Ind., with a catch of 6 pounds, 3 ounces; Jerry Wade (third) of Indianapolis, Ind., with a catch of 5 pounds, 12 ounces; Jeff Hahn (fourth) of Atwater, Ohio, with a catch of 5 pounds, 4 ounces; and Dustin Clontz (fifth) of Albemarle, N.C., with a catch of 4 pounds, 9 ounces.

Both fields will be whittled down to the top-20 competitors after tomorrow's weigh-in.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Chocolotta Bay Marina, located 2 miles east of downtown Mobile, Ala., near Hwy 90/98 at the Causeway Crossing.

Related links:

Quick Bites: Ranger M1, Day 1
Photos
Results
Results of day-one pairings
Day-two pairings
Press release

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2002-02-27-ranger-m1 

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