Lake Murray was a classic postspawn tournament. Here's how the three best got it done.
(66 pounds, 13 ounces)
Roumbanis didn't follow the crowd on his way to victory, he left it behind.
"I started out fishing the points but guys were all over my spots," he said. "So, I started looking elsewhere."
Elsewhere was "way up the river" in shallow, grassy areas under willow trees. "The insects were everywhere. They attracted the bluegills which, in turn, attracted the bass."
Most of the Bixby, Okla., angler's keeper bass fell prey to a Snag Proof Bobby's Perfect Frog in his custom color, Fred Frog. The special finish — it has a touch of orange under its chin — makes it look like a bluegill.
"That's why I used it," Roumbanis said. "A lot of anglers don't realize that a frog looks like an injured fish, not a frog. I skipped it under the willows and then walked it out real fast. Every few feet I'd kill it and let it sit for a moment and then start it up again. They were all over it."
For his frog fishing Roumbanis uses a special rod made by American Eagle Rods. The RoumBASStik FR 735 is 7 feet, 3 inches long with a medium fast tip and graphite blank.
"I fish a lot with frogs and this is the rod for that. The tip will let you walk and move a frog properly but it's tough enough to handle big fish in heavy cover and weeds — the kind of stuff you should be fishing a frog in."
Roumbanis also caught a "few" of his keepers on a Roumba wakebait. "I walked it right under the surface in more open water away from the trees."
"The lesson from Lake Murray is that you should fish your way. I don't like to fish in a crowd, so I moved away from the points and the blueback herring."
(65 pounds, 4 ounces)
"The bass were schooling on the points," said Steve Kennedy after his narrow first place miss. "I saw that immediately in practice. I decided to go with a bulky jig.
"It was nothing special, just a brown 1/2-ounce jig with a big, bulky living rubber skirt and a huge green pumpkin plastic trailer. I fished it real slow way up on the points in 2 to 3 feet of water — dragged it along the bottom as slow as I could stand it. Most of them hit it right where the bottom started to disappear under the water."
Kennedy caught several other keepers with a modified Sebile 5-inch Magic Swimmer swimbait.
"I had one that was silver with a black back. They were slashing at it but not getting it into their mouths. I thought changing the finish might help."
For some anglers that might be a problem, but not for Kennedy. After removing the factory finish with his multi-tool, he custom painted a brown base with green overlay to the lure. He used the airbrush equipment and paint he carries with him on the tournament trail.
"I like to match the hatch," he explains. "Anyway, my new finish worked. It looked more natural, and they were grabbing it better. My technique was nothing special, though. All I really did was throw it out and wind it back along the points."
Kennedy fished his jig on a 7-foot Kistler heavy action Jig 'n Toad Special with a high speed (7:1) reel and 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line. His Magic Swimmer was fished with a 7 1/2-foot Kistler Helium rod, the same reel and 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
(64 pounds, 13 ounces)
"I caught every fish I weighed in on a 5-inch Yum Money Minnow in hologram shad, and, they all came from shallow water over points," says the Talala, Okla., pro.
His rig was ordinary — worm hook, no weight — but his technique was not.
"I was fishing it real fast, just under the surface. But it was the angle of the retrieve that made the difference. You couldn't just pull up to a point and start casting and cranking. You had to have the right angle."
The right angle was directly across the point. "I'd position my boat on one side of the point and throw as far as I could — at least 100 feet — and then bring it back from deep water across the top of the point where it was only a couple of feet deep. They'd kill it as it crossed the shallow water. But, if you threw it any other way they'd ignore it."
Evers threw his Money Minnow with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 7 1/2-foot heavy action rod, a high speed Pro Qualifier reel and 50-pound-test Magibraid line with a 20-pound-test XPS Fluorocarbon leader.