MOBILE, Ala. – Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., the day-one leader of the Stren Series Championship in Mobile, moved back out in front of the pack on day three with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 4 ounces.
Now a tight race is brewing up front with Bohannan, David Curtis and Mike Jackson all separated by less than a pound.
The spotted bass in the upper stretches of the Alabama River continued to make headlines at the championship again today.
Bohannan ran to his key stretches this morning and endured a tough bite until the magic hour arrived at 11:30.
“That’s when they turn on up there, 11:30 to 1,” Bohannan said. “I only had four little ones at 11, moved to my best stretch and caught a 3-pounder and culled three times in the next hour.”
Unlike other leaders who are fishing finesse baits and soft plastics up the river, Bohannan is cranking a Bandit 200 crankbait that was custom painted for him by Fall Creek Lures.
“I’m fishing deep, slick clay banks with the most current,” he said. “I don’t care about wood or laydowns; I’m focusing on the fastest current I can find.”
Bohannan is essentially paralleling the banks with the crankbait, keying on the little clay points that break the swift current.
“My boat is sitting in about 16 feet of water, and I’m right up against the bank,” he said. “I cast up ahead of the boat and then stick my rod tip over to the bank to make the crankbait contact the small points. My best stretch is about 200 yards long and features two or three real sweet spots.”
As for tomorrow, Bohannan says he feels good about it.
“The only thing that concerns me is my bite has been an on-again, off-again situation,” he explained. “One day they bite real well, and the next day it’s tough. I caught them on day one, didn’t catch them too well yesterday and then caught them again today – and it was like that in practice, too. So all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best.”
Curtis, Mathew Saavedra and Greg Vinson are all making a 100-mile-plus run to the limits of the Alabama River, forcing them to stop and buy gas, not once, but twice.
This is only leaving the anglers with about three and a half hours of fishing time.
Curtis is finesse-fishing for spotted bass and caught just five bass today but made a bonus cull on the way back down this afternoon.
“I made one stop coming back down, and it turned into a real gift with the biggest fish I weighed in,” Curtis said.
Jackson still flipping for third
Jackson continues to flip matted “junk” in a creek near takeoff with a 1 1/2-ounce flipping weight and a small Gambler B.B. Cricket.
“If you could see the stuff I’m fishing, you wouldn’t believe I’m catching fish out of it,” he said. “There is some hyacinth and matted vines mixed in with it, but mostly it’s garbage and trash – I mean like floating bottles, cans and runoff debris. It’s some pretty nasty stuff, but the fish are definitely living under it; I caught 12 keepers out of it today.”
Saavedra is joining the long-run brigade for spotted bass far up the Alabama River.
“I’m running 220 miles round trip,” Saavedra said. “I have to gas up twice, once on the way up, and then I stop in and top off before coming back.”
The California angler is employing some western tricks to catch his spotted bass as well.
“I’m using two different styles of swimbaits and a hula grub consisting of a 1/2-ounce jighead, a Yamamoto skirt and Zoom twin tails,” he explained. “I’m bumping those baits along the bottom, trying to contact rock and provoke a reaction from the spotted bass.”
Gainey finesses for fifth
Gainey is fishing fairly close to takeoff with a shaky head.
“I’ve got a little milk run, consisting of about three spots that have milfoil,” he said. “The areas are all within a couple of miles of each other, and I’m rotating on them throughout the day. The key element is the milfoil. Each place has a small stretch of milfoil, and the fish are relating to it.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series Championship after day three:
6th: Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., five bass, 6-14
7th: Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 6-12
8th: Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala., five bass, 6-5
9th: Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo., four bass, 4-10
10th: Doug Vahrenberg of Higginsville, Mo., three bass, 2-15
The fourth and final day of the Stren Series Championship will begin at 7 a.m. at the Chocolotta Bay Ramp, located at 1595 Battleship Parkway in Mobile.