Thursday Sep 25 2008
Former LOP resident a two-time winner
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
Roumbanis honed his skills at private Auburn lake
Skeet Reese isn’t the only fisherman on the Bassmaster Elite Tour with a connection to the Auburn area. Fred Roumbanis spent the past four years in Lake of the Pines — where his parents still live — before relocating to Oklahoma. In fact, Roumbanis (pronounced “Room-BAH-nis”) honed many of the skills he now uses as a professional sport fisherman at the private lake off Combie Road near Bear River and Forest Lake Christian high schools. “It was pretty nice to live right there on the lake and be able to fish whenever I wanted to,” said Roumbanis, who just completed his fourth year on the Bassmaster tour and finished 18th in the tour standings this season. “It’s one of the best-kept secrets in California.” The lake, Roumbanis said, is “chock full of bass of the 3- to 4-pound class, and the occasional 5- or 6-. That’s what you fish for in tournaments, four to five pounds on average.” What Roumbanis learned during his practice sessions at Lake of the Pines has paid dividends on the Bassmaster tour. The 29-year-old has won two Bassmaster tournaments in the past two years, including the Carolina Clash at Lake Murray, S.C. in May. One of the techniques Roumbanis honed at Lake of the Pines was using a rubber frog as swim bait. He now has his own line of rubber frogs, called the “Fred Frog” that’s available at tackle shops everywhere. “It’s one of the hottest sellers on the market right now,” Roumbanis said. The Fred Frog isn’t the only product that has Roumbanis’ name on it. He’s got a line of rods called RoumBASStiks and a line of lures called Roumbas, both of which are available through his Web site, www.elitebass.com. Roumbanis’ path to success on the Bassmaster tour isn’t your typical country-boy-made-good story. He grew up in the Bay Area city of Orinda — his father operated cable cars in San Francisco, where his mother also worked. When he wasn’t spending “every free moment of my childhood” fishing at Lafayette Reservoir, he was watching Bassmaster tour events on what was formerly The Nashville Network (now known as Country Music Television). “It’s on ESPN now,” Roumbanis said. Roumbanis plans on returning to California in October to compete in a Wal-Mart FLW Series Western Division event at the California Delta in Oakley. “I’m just cherry-pickin’ it,” Roumbanis said. “It’s a place where I spent a lot of time fishing.” Roumbanis moved to Oklahoma in part because its location in the central United States makes for shorter drives to Bassmaster events and in part because “they wouldn’t let me put a 20-foot bass boat out there” at Lake of the Pines. Still, he’s grateful for the time he spent there. “It’s really cool that I’ve been able to take a lot of what I learned in Auburn and apply it at tournaments in other parts of the country,” he said.