Recently I had the honor to speak with El Grande Lures Pro, Fred Roumbanis. This young man is one of the easiest people I have ever talked with, and he offers a wealth of information. I want to thank Fred for giving me the time to pick his brain about this sport we all love.
First, a little information about Fred. He has fished the Bass Master Series, FLW series, PBAA series, and many other smaller trails. With an abundance of competitive fishing on his resume, and massive amounts of time on the water, Fred’s family still holds the Number One spot of his list of favorites. Fred spends every minute of his free time enjoying family life with his wife and son.
At a recent FLW event, Fred had a great finish at Lake Okeechobee in Florida. He finished in seventh place; however, Fred was in second place on Day 2 of the tournament.
From the outset of my conversation, I had a desire to get to know the man Fred Roumbanis, not the Bass Pro. What I found out is that Fred Roumbanis is a humble gentleman. He holds his family and his country in high honor. Fred’s the kind of man that helps semi-pros move up the ranks in any way he can. He gives straight answers to questions—no beating around the bush. Not a walking advertisement, as many pros, Fred is faithful to his sponsors, and uses only their baits while fishing. If the bait works, he will let you know, and if it doesn’t, he has no qualms about explaining why. I found this to be quite different from other pros I have spoken with in the past.
So, now you know a bit about the man Fred Roumbanis. Let’s get into the Q & A section of our visit. Like me, I think you’ll find out this guy is real! Not just some walking billboard for sponsors, but a real fisherman, a study of the sport, a winner. Being Spring in the South, we started our conversation talking about tactics which Fred employs for scouting and tournaments.
Smith: “Fred, what are your key tactics for pre, during, and post spawn, and how do you approach a lake during practice?”
“First, in practice, no matter the season, on day one, I spend my time picking apart a main creek area near the spawning areas. I want to learn the highway which the bass use to travel. Slowly picking apart and learning the area, I try to look for the subtle differences that hold fish, good fish, in that channel alone. This will help me put together a game plan for the next two days of practice. Once I have really worked this area, found the small differences that some miss, and that hold bass, I go to the maps.”
“If you can find that pattern, that highway, and know how the fish move, you will find that it is the same throughout most of the lake. I am a big topo map guy; spend the night studying and comparing other areas to the one I fished on day one. Finding those bass highways in different areas of the lake; and looking closely for the same type of bends, drop offs, flats, etc.”
“Days two and three of practice, I really change directions. Run and gun, working fast through as many areas as I can, that compare to the information that I gathered on day one. I want to find the “sweet” spot for that time of the season in every channel possible. To do that you have to have faith in what you learned on day one of practice and what you have found on the maps. Get as many way-points as possible and label them on a scale from one to ten. Channel A, B, C and down the list, then add the 1,2, and so on. With this system, I know what the area has to offer. I trust my judgment and attack the water with confidence that these areas will produce during tournament days.”
Great information! Now lets break it down to the nitty gritty.
Smith: “Fred, what is the difference in fishing pre, during, and post spawn?”
Roumbanis: “Well, pre-spawn pattern requires finding that migration area that you can catch fish moving up and some of the early spawners moving back out. Bass will use the same area to move, whether they are coming off the bed or going to the bedding area. Find that migration and you are on the fish. Take that info anywhere on the lake and you are fishing the same creek, just different bends and structure.”
“During the spawn, as everyone, I love to site fish. I’m pitching and flipping to the beds, and my favorite bait now is the El Grande Tube. This tube is perfect for bed fishing. I used it on Okeechobee on the first and second days of the tournament to pick females off the beds. The Green Pumpkin/Chartreuse swirl was my go to. The bass just couldn’t stand it for a second when it lay in the bed. I could literally see the lure disappear. No question about when to set the hook! What many fishermen don’t realize is, during the spawn, you have to cover water, hit that area, and go! Find that next hot spot and do the same. So many fishermen camp out on an area that “should” hold bedding fish. If you can’t find the fish, or have caught some nice bass and the bite is slowing, get out of there! Head to your #2 area. Don’t waste time thinking you might find another nice fish. Go to where you’re sure you will find that next fish. It’s all about confidence. Never loose it. Believe. Win!”
“Post spawn is actually one of my favorite times to fish. With the knowledge of the ‘bass highway’ I learned earlier in the year, I can easily pick out areas that bass will stage-up prior to going to the summer hide-outs. Look for the docks or other structure near the highway, close to deep water. These fish are hungry; but, to a point, finicky. They have a different mind-set for a few weeks after the spawn. They aren’t chasing; but looking for high production areas to get their strength built back up. That’s why I love to work the docks and over-hanging structure. This time of year, I’m usually pitching a wacky rigged Tilapia or the new Mississippi Mud Hatch-Match Stick from El Grande. If I need a faster fall rate, I will go to a jig, heavy jig with a large profile to get the reaction strikes I’m looking for. Remember what you have learned during the pre and spawn times. Apply this to the post spawn. Don’t forget where these bass come from, or where they are heading. Look for the first resting/hiding spot you can find. They will be there!”
Smith: “Ok, so now that you are fishing in both the Elite Series and the FLW, what have you found to be the biggest differences and what would you like to see as far as changes?”
Roumbanis: “Honestly, both series’ are great! There are some really talented fishermenn in both series. The main difference on the water is, in the FLW, the person in the back of the boat really shows you what you have missed, where you went wrong. When your amateur catches a nice bass, you know, that is a fish that you should have caught. The best part about that, to me anyway, is it helps me tune in and be more competitive, see what I’m not doing as I should. This brings a whole new aspect to the game the first couple of days and you can tune in for the final day.”
“As far as changes, I would love to see a World Championship, the best of both put against each other. That would be one great tournament, and I think it would definitely surprise a lot of people out there in how it stacks up at the end. I can’t see it happening, due to the fierce competition of both trails, but it would be great!”
Smith: “Ok, let’s talk about the Internet and what it has done to tournament bass fishing, mainly the fishing forums. What are your thoughts?”
I think the forums are great for the starting bass fishermenn and the guys and girls that want to move up and learn more about the sport itself. As pros, you don’t see us on forums much. Mainly for one reason— we live it, work it, and honestly rarely have time. Just be careful, there is a lot of talk without the knowledge behind it, from some people that read more than fish. Don’t get hung up on a certain thing. Take all the information you get from the forums and use it to fit how you enjoy fishing.”
Smith: “Is there a technique that you employ that would surprise people, even those that follow you?”
Roumbanis: “Definitely finesse fishing! I love to finesse fish, and do a lot more than people think. Since joining the staff of El Grande Lures and the Hatch Match Sticks have come into my game, wacky rigging, drop shotting, all those types of fishing have really brought my game up. I am a Tilapia fan! No question; it is one of the best lures out there in my opinion. The Hatch Match hits it on the spot and I love working them. They give me that edge of confidence I need in certain situations.”
Smith: “What would you say to the better-than-average fisherman wanting to move up to the bigger leagues?”
Roumbanis: “Learn the lakes! Period! Either by fishing the back of the boat during the FLW series or if you have the means, making the trips and learning the waters. Personally, I would look more toward fishing the FLW amateur side. You fish different lakes, with different people, seeing different techniques every day. This is a wealth of information. You can then apply what you have learned to your style of fishing, or pick up a new style that you have learned to combine with your own. I’ve met some great amateurs over the years and now I see the guys moving up and fishing against me. It’s great!”
Smith: “What is your key to getting and keeping the great sponsors you have?”
Roumbanis: LOL! Oh boy! Some people out there do not want to hear my answer to this one, but here it goes. You have to be a retail asset to the company. Period! Only sign up with companies you believe in, and use their baits, systems, etc. Don’t be a patch grabber. You will look good, but the companies aren’t really paying attention to you. You are not retailing. You are billboarding. Help the sponsor. Don’t worry about what is coming to you from them. Any company worth its’ beans will take care of the guy that retails its product to the public. You have to be in the public, fishing their lures, letting people know you are fishing their lures, and last, but not least, be proud, even on a rough day to stand up and say, ‘the bait done it’s job, the fisherman didn’t!'”
Smith: “With your hectic schedule, how to you enjoy your off time?”
Roumbanis: “I spend every second I can with my family. I don’t hunt, rarely fish for fun other than with my son, Jackson. I love spending time at home with the crew. Their support means so much to me and they keep me running on those long drives and rough tournaments. Without them, I wouldn’t be me!”
Smith: “Well Fred, I have really enjoyed our talk! Thank You so much for taking the time with me and giving so much great information. You are one great person, not counting your fishing skills, and I look forward to our next talk, as well as keeping up with you on the trails. Any last word for the tournament people reading this?”
Roumbanis: “Fish to WIN! Fish for the big fish, start to end! And mainly, IF YOU WANT IT, DREAM OF IT, DO IT! Put the work into it and the time on the water. It will come!”
Lee Smith El Grande Lures A Sit-Down with El Grande Lures Pro Fred Roumbanis