After posting a 117th-place finish a year ago at the Lake Chickamauga FLW Tour, Fred Roumbanis made a pact with himself that he wouldn't fall into the shallow-water trap again at the Tennessee River lake. He figured the best chance at quality bites this year would be offshore, on the ledges.
"The last time I fished shallow here I bombed," he said. "I'd just come off the Mississippi River (Elite Series) where I finished 4th and thought I could keep it going."
When he arrived at Chickamauga for BASSFest, there were certain factors that had him thinking a shallow pattern might emerge much to his surprise – the water was higher, the extended winter had delayed the spawning cycles and he'd just come from the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour where he didn't catch his fish all that deep.
"I couldn't catch squat out deep (at Chickamauga)," he said. "It's a good thing there was a good mayfly hatch going. I was able to capitalize on that a couple of times."
He had a 20-pound bag on day 1 to get off to a strong start, then followed up with 16-10 and 14-14 to finish in 13th, missing the final-day cut by 15 ounces. And he did it fishing shallow.
"I never fished the same stuff twice," he said. "I covered a lot of water and just went fishing and it fished to my strengths because I could junk-fish and catch them a variety of ways."
He missed a couple opportunities on day 3 that could’ve put him inside the Top 12, but overall he was pleased with his results.
"I was seeing fish come up on my frog and there were times I reeled in too fast and saw some giants chase it," he said. "There were some stragglers up shallow that helped some guys, but you had to dedicate to it because you had to cover water to get bit. I liked that challenge because it kept most of the people away from the bank."
He have to overcome another challenge through the course of the week – a blown engine in his tow vehicle. Steve and Kim Pruitt, who own a custom cabinetry company in Dayton, Tenn., loaned him their truck for a few days as did Ott DeFoe's father. Luckily for Roumbanis, his engine was still under warranty and he's due to get a full replacement.
The Big Bite Lookback, which focuses on the angler who's first out of the final cut at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.