COLUMBIA, S.C. — Only three of the anglers who started in the top 12 on Saturday caught more than 13 pounds on Day Three — and only half will be fishing Sunday's final.
Taking advantage of the slip were some of the biggest names in the sport: Fred Roumbanis, Kevin VanDam, Steve Kennedy, Davy Hite, Aaron Martens and Ish Monroe all moved from the outside in. Day Two leader Rick Morris only caught 5 pounds, 10 ounces (18th) and second place Mike McClelland (20th) had four fish that weighed 6 pounds.
Fred Roumbanis moved from 15th to first with the second-biggest bag of the tournament: 20 pounds, 9 ounces.
"I tried running and gunning the first day of the tournament and actually got pushed off some of my spots," Roumbanis said. "I thought I was actually going to blank the first day, so I started looking around for something else and I found something that really fits my style."
Most of the anglers, like Morris, weren't thrilled with the high skies and lack of wind to start Saturday, but they still believed fishing points on the blueback herring bite was the only way to have a shot at winning. Roumbanis disagreed.
"I've waited for this sun all week," he said. "My bite has nothing to do with the blueback — bluegill maybe, but not blueback. Nobody else is doing it."Roumbanis said he caught a limit within the first hour of fishing and culled all day. His bag, which included a 5-8 and a 5-4, was missing an 8-plus pounder he said he missed first thing in the morning.
"You have to have the right kind of water and I went though six different bait colors before I found the right one, and it just all came together," Roumbanis said. "I gave up on that blueback thing altogether and I'm glad I did."
But that doesn't mean anglers are going to start abandoning points or the blueback herring. Steve Kennedy fished points on Saturday and had the heaviest bag of the tournament — 22 pounds, 4 ounces — which moved him from 31st to second.Kennedy said he was finally able to get on a point he spotted in practice. There was a local fishing it when he arrived on Day One and South Carolinian Jason Quinn beat him there on Day Two. (Quinn caught 15-2 on Day Two.)
"I had a couple 4-pounders and a 5 off there, right off the bat," said Kennedy, who filled out his limit an hour into fishing. "I only had two fish after 8 o'clock. It was painful tough."
Hite, who cut his teeth in the business on Lake Murray, said he'd be wary of trying to win on anything but points.
"I know the pattern that wins tournaments most of the time this time of year ... and I came here to win," said Hite, who's 19-4 moved him from 34th to sixth. "Other than the Classic, there's no tournament I'd rather win — this is my home lake."
Less than 7 pounds separates 12th (Ish Monroe) from Roumbanis and Lake Murray proved on Day Three it doesn't take much to shake up the leaderboard.
Sunday calls for isolated thunderstorms with winds from 15 to 25 mph. Tradition says that bodes well for the anglers continuing to hammer the point, like VanDam (11th), Brian Snowden (4th) and Dave Wolak (9th).
Hite said the wind could help in more ways than one, and he feels especially comfortable because of his extensive knowledge of the water."If it blows hard, some of the local anglers might decide to go to church instead of going fishing tomorrow," Hite said. "I caught a lot of my fish on a place that's very subtle. Unless you've spent a lot of time here, you wouldn't notice it."The lake has a few things that are hidden — and that works a little bit to my advantage."
Roumbanis isn't listening to the naysayers. His style yielded consistent bags on Day One and Day Two, and an incredible bag on Day Three, in all types of weather."I'm catching a lot of fish, so if I think if I can just weed through them and get the right bites, I should have a good shot at it," Roumbanis said.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Carolina Clash, May 15–18, 2008. Thursday through Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 3:00 p.m. ET. On Sunday, "Hooked Up" will air at noon and 2:45 p.m. ET, with the final weigh-in and live streaming video to start at 3:15 p.m. ET.