Then & Now: Greg Bohannan lives dream as pro angler

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 260 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.

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Greg Bohannan’s dream to become a professional angler became a reality in 2008 after he left a career at Tyson Foods.

“From the time I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a professional fisherman,” Bohannan said. “The timing was right. I was always fishing on the side in a lot of local circuits and some regional circuits. My wife and I had a plan. She wanted to be a nurse anesthetist, and she went back to anesthesia school and finished that. When she got finished with that, our plan was for me to try to make it as a pro fisherman. She pushed me to do it.

“In 2007, I left [Tyson Foods] and qualified for the tour and immediately started having success on tour. … The rest is history.”

Bohannan led Tyson Foods’ original processing plant and oversaw about 500 employees when the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named him to the Forty Under 40 class in 2002. He spent 13 years working for Tyson Foods.

After leaving the company, he took a year to qualify for the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Tour. Early in his fishing career, he said his success allowed him to land sponsorships, including with Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts.

“The sponsorship deal came quick, and it made it an easy transition,” he noted.

According to Major League Fishing, Bohannan is a power fisherman who loves to throw a crankbait. He has three career wins, 21 top 10 finishes and more than $920,000 in winnings since his first FLW tournament in 1999. Tulsa, Okla.-based Major League Fishing (MLF) acquired FLW in 2019.

Bohannan, 49, pointed to the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida as a career highlight. He finished second with a haul of 82 pounds, 8 ounces over the four-day event.

“I caught most of the fish on a topwater, so I got to see all of that 80-something pounds eat the bait,” he said. “That’s pretty fun to watch those explosive bites. If you were to Google my name and Lake Okeechobee, one of those bites will come up that was on TV. It was pretty cool.”

Asked about his success as an angler, Bohannan said he played college baseball and football and has always been competitive. After college, he wanted to continue to compete, and fishing was that outlet.

“I feel like God gave me a lot of good outdoor skills to do this, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he added.

He said he’s always been a consistent fisherman and maintains a never-give-up attitude. The heaviest largemouth bass he’s caught was 9 pounds, 2 ounces at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. In tournaments, anglers can keep up to five fish per day, and his heaviest one-day haul was 27 pounds, 2 ounces at Lake Okeechobee in 2014.

Bohannan participates in the MLF Pro Circuit, formerly the FLW Tour, that includes six or seven tournaments and a championship each year. He also takes part in the Toyota Series, which includes three events and a championship annually.

Overall, he competes in about 12 tournaments, and including practice, he is fishing between 200 and 220 days each year. That also includes fishing in the area, as a guide and charity and sponsor trips. Pringles has been his title sponsor for the past four years.

He recently completed the 2021 season at the St. Lawrence Seaway in New York. His first tournament of the 2022 season will be at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.

Between seasons, he’s renegotiating contracts. He also receives and sells a Bass Cat boat each year, works on the artwork for the new one and acquires new fishing equipment and jerseys.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s caused tournaments to be postponed, but only one event was canceled in 2020. Also, the events have spectator capacity limits, and anglers wear face coverings when launching or at weigh-ins.

The Elm Springs native said his next big career goals are to win a tour event and championship. He and his wife, Holly, and son, Brock, reside near Bentonville. Bohannan supports high school fishing events and enjoys archery deer hunting.

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