How Fred Roumbanis Would Fish the Classic
The 2019 Bassmaster Classic field is made up of 52-anglers who qualified through Elite Series Angler of the Year standings; the Bassmaster Opens, the College and Team Classics, B.A.S.S. Nation, and the Elite Series Bracket event.
There were many ways to get in, and Fred Roumbanis was very close, but unfortunately will be sitting this one out after barely missing out at the last chance Classic Bracket event held after the Elite Series season.
He led his bracket only to be beaten out by Scott Rook. Even though the close call still stings, he was willing to share his insights, predictions and how he would approach the event for this article.
Roumbanis has fished the Classic waters one time during a PAA event that was held on Ft. Loudon and Tellico lakes. Although it was a completely different time of year, he liked what he say and believes that it will be an excellent venue for the Classic.
“There is a really endless amount of cover to fish. I can see many different techniques playing out and catching fish,” he says. “It is Tennessee in mid-March so the bass will be close to spawning, but it will be more of a pre-spawn bite.”
According to Roumbanis, he would do one of two things if he was fishing this event.
“I would either run way up the river and go as far away as possible trying to find some warmer water in some of the backwaters to look for staging fish. The other thing I would explore was down by the dam and fish deep with a football head jig or swimbait for both largemouth and smallmouth,” he says.
While both plans seem like complete opposites, Roumbanis predicts that one of those will be the winning approach.
“I’m excited to see which pattern is going to be the winning pattern,” says the BPT pro. “Either one of those could be the deal, and guys will have success doing both.”
When asked what techniques will play a role in this year’s Classic, Roumbanis listed a wide range of popular pre-spawn approaches.
There are at least five that what he would use if he were fishing this event.
“There is tons of riprap here, and a crankbait should be good. I would be throwing a medium diver like the ima Pinjack 200,” shares Roumbanis. “This is a good approach for the largemouth, smallmouth, and spots that are in there.”
These lures are proven anywhere in the country this time of year, so it is no surprise that Roumbanis picked them as a potential Classic winner.
“I’d be throwing the ima Suspending Vibration because you can fish it like a jerkbait and also like a lipless. It is great for shallow pre-spawn bass,” he says.
Flipping and Pitching
Most likely anglers will find plenty of shallow cover to flip and pitch when the event kicks off, but it will all be dependent on water levels. Roumbanis predicts laydowns, wood, and docks to all be players for where the guys will catch them.
“There is some excellent water to flip and pitch, and that is throughout both Ft. Loudon and Tellico lakes. When I was there, we had tons of debris in the water, but I remember there being some really good water for flipping and pitching.”
Roumbanis said that on his previous visit he landed some fish on swimbaits and that he would again use this approach is he was fishing this event. “This time of year I like to fish the Optimum Baby Boom Boom on a ½-ounce jighead just to get it down a little deeper and keep it down there,” says Roumbanis.
The jerkbait is a staple this time of year, and Roumbanis said he would definitely have one tied on if he was fishing the Classic. “I’d want a little bit bigger jerkbait like the ima Flit 120 to try for bigger bites,” he says.
Who to Watch For
The field is made up of many great anglers, and when asked who would be his pick to win, Roumbanis picked Knoxville area pro Ott DeFoe. “He is definitely one to watch, and I am guessing he will run way up the river, it seems like that’s what he always does and being from around there, I think he has some experience on these waters,” says Roumbanis.
While the near-miss in qualifying for the Classic still hurts for Roumbanis, he will be among fishing fans everywhere who are watching to see who comes out on top at the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.