MORGAN CITY, La. — Bites were few and far between for Fred Roumbanis, but he got the right ones at the Atchafalaya Basin.
The Bassmaster Elite Series pro took the lead in the pro division of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open finale by catching a five-fish limit weighing 19 pounds, 9 ounces. Some key bites in practice helped Roumbanis locate the big fish he caught Thursday.
“I didn’t stick many fish in practice, so I went right to the bites I got then and caught them today,” Roumbanis said.
When the London, Ark., angler did set the hook on some fish during practice, he caught a couple of 4- and 5-pounders.
So Roumbanis returned to those spots today and caught six keepers, including three 5-pounders.
“I’m not getting a lot of bites (six today),” he said. “It is an absolute grind.“
After catching his sixth fish, Roumbanis left his area to save it for Friday. He believes the fish are still in a summertime mode in the basin.
“I don’t think they have quite made their fall deal yet,” he said. “They are still back on their summer stuff (isolated objects) and they are pretty predictable once you figure it out.”
The Arkansas pro estimated he would get one bite about every hour.
“It wasn’t like I caught them quick or fast and furious or anything like that,” he said. “I just had to bounce around a little bit in one general area. I’ve got two patterns going so I think I can just go fishing and do all right.”
Greg Hackney, the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, cashed in on his home-water advantage to take over second place with a 17-6 limit. The Gonzales, La., pro had a good practice a couple of weeks ago but he noticed the fishing has slowed down after a cold front last week dropped the water temperature 13 degrees.
Hackney experienced his best action early and late on the first competition day.
“The middle of the day was just a grind, and I would catch one every now and then,” he said. “I would also catch a lot of little ones when the water was hot, before then everything I caught was 2 pounds or better.“
Other pro division anglers in the top five include Derek Hudnall, Baton Rouge, La., third place, 16-2; Cody Bird, Granbury, Texas, fourth, 15-14; and Hunter Parra, Houma, La., fifth, 14-13.
Competing in his first Open, 31-year-old Blake Naquin from Thibodaux, La., took over the lead in the co-angler division with three bass weighing 11-8. Even though the oil and gas service company employee was fishing his home waters, Naquin said he learned a lot more about the basin while paired with pro division angler Billy Billeaud of Lafayette, La.
Leading the pro division for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award after the first day is Parra with a 7-12 largemouth. Naquin leads on the co-angler side of the big bass pot with a 4-4 bass.
The Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau is hosting this event. Friday's launch, weigh-in and the final-day launch will be held at the Jesse Fontenot Memorial Boat Landing, 700 River Road in Berwick. The final-day weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops at 175 Bass Pro Blvd., in Denham Springs.