Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 04/05/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush

Moore, OK - Following each Bassmaster Elite Series tournament during the 2013 season, The BASS ZONE will interview an angler who finished in the bottom half of the field to find out “what went wrong?”

It’s easy to get the winning details from an angler who just lifted a trophy – It’s tougher to go one-on-one with an angler who just missed the cut by 20-pounds, failed to catch a limit the entire tournament, and dropped 10 places in the Angler Of the Year standings.

The bass fishing media tends to avoid analyzing poor tournament performances. For some reason, when a pro angler finishes in 100th place, nobody stops to ask him, “What went wrong?” In other professional sports, sub-par performances by individual players become a major part of the storyline.

When a PGA golf pro cards a triple-bogie on an easy par four, he is questioned by the media following the round. When a NASCAR driver hits the wall on the second lap, he has to answer for his performance. It’s not being negative, it’s just being real.

The unique thing about bass fishing is that often times, poor tournament performances are looked at differently than a sliced 7-iron or a bad judgment call going into turn three. Understanding the reason behind tournament struggles can lead to tangible lessons that every bass fisherman can learn from to become a better angler.

This week, the focus turns to the second stop of the 2013 Elite Series season on Falcon Lake.  Even though reports were that the lake wasn’t in the same form that it was back in 2008 when Paul Elias broke the all time heavyweight record with 132-8, the bite was expected to be good.  

Tournament favorite, Keith Combs, came out on top with a total weight of 111-5, and a total of three anglers broke the century mark during the tournament.  It took an impressive weight of 39-4 to crack the top 50 and fish on the weekend.

After a 21st place finish in the Elite Series opener on the Sabine River the previous week, Oklahoma’s Fred Roumbanis entered Falcon Lake looking to cash another check and go two for two in Texas.  It wasn’t to be, as Roumbanis failed to boat a limit on the first day of the tournament and brought just three keepers to the scales weighing 12-5 to settle in 81st place.  

Things didn’t get much better on Friday.  Roumbanis weighed-in two keepers weighing 3-14 for a two-day total weight of 16-3.   While that weight would have put him well within the weekend cut the previous week on the Sabine River, it put him at the bottom of the leaderboard on Falcon.  Roumbanis finished the tournament in 96th place - the lowest finish of his Elite Series career since 2006.       

Here’s how Fred Roumbanis explained “What Went Wrong” on Falcon Lake:     

Tournament Practice:
“I had a pretty good event the previous week in Orange, Texas, but I got a sinus infection immediately following the tournament on the Sabine River.  My body was worn out during the first day of practice on Falcon.  I wasn’t worn out from exhaustion; I was tired because my body was fighting the infection. 

“I ended up passing out in my boat on the first day of practice, and I knew that it was time to get off the water once that happened.  I got off the water at about 1:30 and went to the pharmacy and then went to bed. 

“I felt a lot better on the second day of practice.  I was also filming the Pro Patterns Exposed show during the day where a camera follows my practice, so I was focused on making a good TV show in addition to finding fish for the tournament.  I had a decent day and caught about 24-pounds on camera. 

“It's going to be an awesome show, but the problem was that I caught fish on everything and never really got keyed in on what I needed to be doing during the tournament.  It was just a random fish here and a random fish there.   I caught a good one flippin’, a good one cranking, and a good one on a jig.  

“The final day of practice, the wind was really howling and a front rolled in.  The only thing that I could do was throw a reaction bait.  I threw a Longneck Roumbler most of the day and caught a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder, which I didn’t think was that bad.” 

Tournament Strategy and Game Plan:
“After practice, I really made the decision that I wanted to fish a little bit of deep water, but I mainly wanted to spend most of the tournament flipping.   My plan for the first morning was to start out throwing a Carolina-rig in deep water.  On the second day of practice, I had seen some fish holding on a break in 25-feet of water and I caught a 7-pounder on the first cast to the area during practice.  

“I thought that it was a good area to start in because there were a lot of trees that I wanted to flip nearby and I figured that I could just start out deep and then work my way in as the day progressed.” 

“I started the first morning offshore, and across the way I watched Ish (Monroe), well, I actually heard Ish a couple hundred yards from me screaming and yelling that he had just caught a 10-pounder.   After I heard that, I knew that I needed to be flippin’ trees.  

“I flipped up a 6-pounder right off the bat and I really thought that things were going good.  I made a move and went to one of my main flipping areas that I had found in practice and there were like four or five boats in the same area.   I caught two 3 ½-pounders fairly quickly and then I caught a keeper that I had to measure. 

“When I went to put the little guy in the livewell, I opened the lid and one of the 3 ½-pounders just shot out of the livewell.  It was flopping around on the back deck, and for some reason I chucked the keeper that I had just caught over the side of the boat and tackled the one that had just jumped out of the livewell.   At that point it occurred to me that I only had three keepers and I had just thrown a keeper back into the lake.  After that, I just started getting reckless with my decisions.  I left the area because I thought that I could catch them somewhere else and I just never did. All of the little spots that I had found had boats on them. 

“On the second day, there was a spot down in Mexico where I really wanted to start because I did get two bites there on the first day of practice before I had to get off the water.  I started on that stretch and just never had a bite for two hours.  

“I went back to where I caught the majority of my fish on the first day, and the area was a lot calmer so I was really able to fish the way that I wanted to.   I immediately flipped to a bush and broke off a fish that was huge.  I have no idea how big it was, but the bite was one of those that just violently ripped my rod down.  

“I went down in the bottom of the boat to re-tie, and when I looked back up there was a tournament boat on either side of me crowding me in.  I watched one of them catch a 6-pounder and the other one catch a 4-pounder, and then I jacked a big catfish.  I started getting spun out, so I decided to leave.  

“I went to a new area and hooked an 8-pounder.   This thing came up, jumped, and actually just straightened out my hook enough to pull off.  A couple minutes later, I hooked another giant in a tree, and I could actually see the side of this beast in the water as it rattled around the tree.  It was a genuine double-digit bass, and it proceeded to just pop my line. 

“On my last cast of the day, I just made a wild cast in the middle of nowhere out of frustration and actually got a bite.  I jacked the fish, hooked up with a good one for a few cranks, and then it pulled off.  To sum it up, I legitimately either lost or broke off four bass over 8-pounds in the span of about an hour and ended up weighing-in two babies.” 

What Went Wrong?
“Just about everything possible went wrong on the second day at Falcon with the exception of any mechanical problems.   Losing the big bites really spun me out.  The fishing wasn’t exactly easy, but it wasn’t that tough either.  I chose to fish for fish in thick cover that were nearly impossible to land. 

“There’s a reason why a lot of tournaments are won offshore on Falcon.  When you hook those giants out in the open, there’s nothing for the fish to run into and break you off.”

Lessons Learned: 
“I really learned something important at Falcon.  From now on, I’m going to try and locate an area where I can put at least three keepers in the boat, regardless of how big they are, before I make a decision to try and do something different.  I’m not going to go into these tournaments with the game plan of trying to pick off random fish. 

“When you’re moving around and just looking for a single fish here and a single fish there, you never settle down.  I never settled down during the Falcon Tournament, and the day just ended up flying by way too fast.”