As more and more people become initiated into the pure passion and enjoyment the pursuit of America's No. 1 sportfish brings, our favorite bass waters begin to quickly show the effects.
Crowded lakes are the norm in many parts of the country, especially during the summer months and the recreational boating traffic they bring. But bass anglers are also beginning to take note of the fact that their favorite fishing holes are becoming crowded as well. On the Bassmaster Elite Series, it seems that the "crowding" effect is all the more apparent as scores of anglers seem to find the same pattern or school of fish.
Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis explains fishing in a crowd is an inevitable part of tournament fishing, regardless of whether he wants to deal with it. "I do not like fishing in a crowd," he says. "You're watching guys catch them all around you and often times you're not (catching them), and that really starts to wear on you over the course of a day."
The Oklahoma pro reveals that the group-fishing approach seen in many Elite Series events is the byproduct of the incredible fish-finding abilities pros at this level share. "We always seem to find the same few key areas or general patterns," he says. "It's uncommon to not have someone else fishing around you at some point in the day."
While it might not be the norm to find water to yourself, Roumbanis admits that finding such a spot is the goal each angler pursues. "The guy that wins the tournament will most often be away from the crowd or — if he has company around him — will be doing something just a little bit different," he reveals.
"Plus, over the course of a tournament, you can just see the size of the fish start to slide down when there are several guys fishing the same general area. Most often it's a result of pressure." Fishing in a crowd might not be the preferred approach, but Fred points out that if a group of fishermen are congregating around a particular area, it's for good reason.
To separate himself from that pack, Fred employs some basic defense. "I put down the bait that everyone else is using and try something different," he says. "At least in my mind I feel like it gives me a better shot at catching a fish that wouldn't bite whatever it is they're throwing. You can't always see it work, but mentally it sure helps me." What does Roumbanis do when his unique lure strategy fails to produce the desired results?
"If I see everyone else catching them and I'm not, it's just time to pack up and leave," Fred admits. "It spins me out mentally, so I've just learned to go find something else to fish. "You can definitely try to block everyone else out, but it's pretty tough to do it completely. I don't really know of anyone in their right mind who would prefer to fish in a crowd."
Roumbanis explains that crowded "community holes" often test the limits where the unwritten rules of fishing are concerned. "When you're fishing these community holes, fishing etiquette sometimes goes right out the window," he points out. "You have to understand that there's no water that's truly yours.
You have to master the area you're in and make the most of every opportunity you're given if you're on a lake that has a lot of community water."
(Provided by Z3 Media)