Fred Roumbanis began his search for a big bass the minute he started practicing on Sunday morning.
"I knew I'd have to have four good bags to do well, and I knew to have four good bags I'd need to catch a couple of big ones. The giants spawn first, so I reasoned they'd already be out on the main river channel ledges settling into their summer patterns," said the Bixby, Okla., professional after the final weigh-in.
"I found a spot 7 feet deep, surrounded by 30-foot depths, with a small ditch running away from it. The entire area was covered with shells and grass.
"In practice I caught several bass from that spot with a shad finished Lucky Craft RC 1.5 DD, including a big one that I released very carefully at the boat — never lifted her out of the water. I figured the spot would be good for several limits and maybe a kicker or two."
Once the tournament started, Roumbanis went immediately to his spot and started throwing the same crankbait into the same willing school of bass. He returned on the second day looking for a quick limit.
"On Thursday I caught the big bass. But the crazy thing was she was the same big bass I'd caught in practice. You know, the big one I just told you about.
"I'm positive about that. And she struck the same exact bait. I thought that was strange. But when I got to looking at some of my other bass I realized I was catching my smaller practice bass, too. That just goes to show you that when the bite is on, the bass don't think and they don't learn. They react."
Roumbanis offers two lessons from his big bass experience:
1. "Think about where to fish before you start fishing. I found the right spot and caught the biggest bass of the tournament because I knew where to look."
2. "Throw something different. I chose a small deep diving crankbait. I doubt many of the bass out there had seen one. And I cranked it really fast. It was attack or miss the opportunity — a true reaction bite."
Roumbanis threw his RC DD 1.5 on a 7-foot, 4-inch Roumbastic SwimStik (FR743, medium action, with an Ardent XS1000.6 reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) and 10-pound-test P-Line Fluorocarbon line.