The Big Fish Guru (Bass Quest Magazine)

By Tom Leogrande (as printed in the upcoming Bass Quest Magazine)

Every pro fisherman heads into a tournament hoping to catch big bass. However, not many are targeting huge bass; most would say that’s not the best strategy for doing consistently well in tournaments. But one angler that heads out on each body of water with a plan to catch the biggest fish is Fred Roumbanis.

For most pro anglers, the goal is five quality fish per day in a tournament. The search for truly giant bass is risky in most tournaments. While the reward can be great, the failure to catch giants is costly. Roumbanis said, “I know it’s a risky style, but it is how I have always fished. It is probably the main reason I am 50/50 on making Bassmaster Classics.”

While his mindset might be the reason Roumbanis has missed a few Bassmaster Classics, including the upcoming 2015 Classic on Lake Hartwell, it has also put him in the winner’s circle in all levels of competition. Roumbanis has won more big fish awards than he can remember. B.A.S.S. stats show Roumbanis has won big fish checks at the following tournaments: 2007 Lake Champlain, 2007 Lake Dardanelle, 2007 High Rock Lake (twice), 2007 Lake Amistad, 2008 Lake Murray, and 2009 Kentucky Lake. He has also won Big Bass of the Bassmaster Classic in two of the four Bassmaster Classics he has qualified for: the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell and the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville.

Roumbanis attributes his success to several things. First, his strengths are big fish techniques—swimbaits and frogs. “Growing up in California, I really had the opportunity to fish swimbaits and frogs quite often. I learned early on that both techniques had a propensity to catch big fish. When I got out here on tour, I kept both techniques in my bag of tricks,” explained Roumbanis.

He also believes that his approach helps him catch the bigger fish. Roumbanis said, “I try to look for something that is out of the norm. Which generally leads me to different areas of the lake, or different patterns than a lot of the guys are finding, or maybe they just opt for the more reliable fishing; I am not sure.”

He admits big fish can be caught by any technique. “Honestly, a big fish of a tournament can be caught with a drop shot rod with four-pound-test line and a three-inch worm. It’s not that a frog or swimbait is the only way to catch a giant, it just increases the odds a little bit,” he explained.

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What does Roumbanis think about his strategy and missing Bassmaster Classics? He said, “I hate missing Bassmaster Classics, but to be honest, that’s not my goal. My goal is to go out and try to win every tournament. That’s an impossible goal, but when I launch on the first day of any event—you better believe I have one thing in mind and that is to win. Maybe, just maybe, at the last event of the year, I might consider the points race to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic—but even that is pretty rare.”

While Roumbanis’ strategy for targeting the biggest fish hasn’t led him to the most consistent career, it’s certainly produced a successful one. His two wins on the Bassmaster Elite Series were both coupled with winning the Big Bass awards; this happened at both High Rock Lake in 2007 and Lake Murray in 2008. “Almost all of my success in tournaments has been with giant fish, big fish of the tournament, and not just on the Elite Series. I can think way back to team tournaments and regional pro-ams where I landed giant fish to win events. Overall, I think I have weighed over ten fish that were over 10-lbs in tournaments.”

His success with big fish extended into FLW as well. Roumbanis owns the all-time day two record weight: 34 pounds 5 ounces which was anchored by a 9-pound 7-ounce bass.

He sees no need to change his style in the near future. “I grew up fishing this way and I can’t see myself fishing any other way. Would I be better off picking up a spinning rod more often? Maybe, but for right now, I don’t see that happening.”

In 2015, the Bassmaster Elite Series is headed to the California Delta and Kentucky Lake, two places where Roumbanis has had success with his big-fish approach. In fact, when fishing a regional pro-am early in his career, Roumbanis landed his best fish ever: a 13-pound bass.

Will this be the year Roumbanis breaks through with more wins? We aren’t sure, but we do know he’ll be headed into every event with winning and big bass on his mind.