Welcome to the IMA Emailer – Winter 2012 IssueThe IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.New Years Greetings!Happy New Year from all of us here at IMA Lures. If you’ve already tried our products successfully, welcome back to our little place on the web – and if you’re a newcomer to our lineup we sincerely hope that 2012 is that year that you and IMA have success on the water together. Whether you’re a bank-beater, a weekend warrior or fishing in the Bassmaster Classic, we’re confident that a few carefully-chosen IMA products can enhance your fishing experience.Two Are Classic-BoundIf you want proof that IMA products work at the highest level of competition, from coast to coast, then you need look no further than the 2011 results of IMA pros Fred Roumbanis and Bill Lowen. Roumbanis, originally from California but now residing in Oklahoma, finished 27th out of 99 Elite Series anglers to ease into his third Bassmaster Classic berth. Lowen, originally from Ohio but now living in Indiana, finished 34th overall to qualify for his fourth Classic.Both IMA pros competed the last time the big event was held on Louisiana’s Red River, and they hope to improve upon their good-but-not-victory finishes from 2009 when they return to Shreveport in just about a month. It’s a shallow-water fishery that has the potential to produce big weights. Last time, several bags north of 20 pounds were brought to the scales. While flipping, pitching and spinnerbaiting will no doubt by foremost on many anglers’ minds, there’s a substantial chancethat hard baits will play a role…and perhaps a leading role in the winner’s game plan.
Roumbanis: Big Offseason, Lots of Good Times Ahead
Fred Roumbanis might be forgiven if he hadn’t spent much time this offseason contemplating a game plan for the upcoming Shreveport Classic. After all, he’s been busy fishing, testing tackle, working for both existing and new sponsors and making a long-awaited trip to Africa. But that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about the Red River.
“I love fishing in places that are hard to get into,” Fred said. “There are a lot of backwaters like that on the Red River, places where if you work hard you may come across something special that you’ll have all to yourself. It’s a place with so many variables – the water level, water clarity and the backwaters – that no one has an advantage even if they have past history on the river, so I’m going to go in with a totally open mind.”
But before he heads to Louisiana, Fred will take a roundabout route through Florida in order to fish the FLW Open on Lake Okeechobee, a venue that saw him finish 7th in 2011, a haul that included a whopping five bass, 34-05 stringer on Day Two.
“I want to start my year off right again and Okeechobee is the place to do that,” he said. “You can just go out there and get lost in the reeds. There are new surroundings around every corner. It’s like being a little kid out fishing again.”
For novel surroundings, though, it would be hard to top the winter sojourn he made last month to South Africa with fellow Elite Series pro Derek Remitz. “We saw just about every kind of wild animal you can imagine,” he recalled. “Elephants, lions, zebra, hippos, crocs and rhinos. You’d be fishing along and there’d be monkeys. Derek got to feed a warthog.“ It wasn’t just all wildlife-viewing, however. The anglers made good use of their time, capturing the high-flying tigerfish and also chasing some more familiar largemouths. While Fred was in a strange land, he felt right at home in his host’s Triton 21HP – although the 350 HP Verado outboard and the Porsche Cayenne his host used to tow the rig were a bit more than even the fast-driving Fred was used to.
“What I really took away is that we take fishing for granted here,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of launches there, so a lot of times we just put the boat in off the side of the road. And there’s no Boat US, so you can’t get towed in. If you break down, you’re out there all night with the crocs and the hippos. It’s a lot of work for them just to go fishing.”
Fred’s Hard Bait Facts
IMA will once again be prominently displayed on the side of Fred’s Triton in 2012.
“They’re a very significant sponsor and I appreciate all of the support they’ve given me over the course of my career,” he said. He expects this year to be a breakout campaign for the brand and he’s spent his little available free time since his last tournament of 2011 trying to find little tweaks and tricks to use with the baits to keep his competitive advantage. In particular, he’s worked hard with the Flit and the Beast Hunter.
“The Flit is just deadly out here,” he said, referring to his Oklahoma home. “It’s got what I call a soft jerkbait approach, which means that it darts side to side, almost like a ‘hunting’ jerkbait. It’s so erratic and it suspends so well. Make a couple of hard jerks, pause it with some slack in the line and they clobber it. I’ve fished just about every higher-end jerkbait out there and it’s the best of the bunch.”
At the Classic, he expects that he’ll utilize some combination of the Square Bill, the Shaker and his namesake Roumba to get the job done. A lot will depend on the weather conditions leading into the event. So far it has been a mild winter, so the fish may be further along than they were when he fished the Classic there in 2009. That’ll influence his crankbait choices.
“The Shaker works well in colder water, under 50 degrees,” he explained. “It’s a tighter vibration bait with a shimmy wobble. It’s almost the opposite of what happens in the fall. I get on a Square Bill bite in the fall when the water temperature is 50 to 55, then when it gets colder I go to the Shaker. In the spring, the order is reversed. “
While the Red River has varied water clarities, Roumbanis chooses his crankbait colors not entirely in accordance with clarity, but often with regard to sustained clarity. So while he may very use patterns with yellow or chartreuse in the dirtier portions of the Red, don’t be surprised him to pull out natural patterns in the same water colors elsewhere.
“My philosophy is that fish get used to dirty water,” he said. “If there’s a quick change, I’ll stick with chartreuse, but in places where it stays stained they learn to hunt instinctively, so I’ll go with darker, more natural baits.”
Lowen Continues to Tinker
Unlike Roumbanis, who’s been around the world and back in pursuit of little green fish this winter, Bill Lowen has stayed closer to home and spent more time in the deer stand than in his boat. That’s not necessarily by design, but the Lowens recently moved and were blessed with baby number just days ago, so the idea of picking up stakes and heading to Falcon or Guntersville or Clear Lake is off the table.
Besides, it’s downright cold in the Ohio River region, where he continues to reside. That makes it “hard to prepare mechanically” for the upcoming season. But that doesn’t mean he’s taken his mind off fishing altogether – quite the opposite! While Lowen may be known far and wide as a “River Rat,” there’s another alliterative title that also fits him well – “Tackle Tinkerer.” He’s spent tons of time in his shop getting everything ready for the upcoming season, which will likely start at the Bassmaster Classic.
“I spend hours and hours on my tackle,” he said. “It’s not that I’m a neat freak, but I like to carry exactly what I need with me and have 100 percent confidence in anything I tie on. I probably carry more than I need, but I’m still pretty simple compared to most guys.”
That certainty and confidence in his gear will allow him to go into the Classic focused only on finding the right population of fish and the right tool to extract them – no worrying about whether his equipment is battle-tested.
“I’m sure that the tournament will involve flipping and pitching, but it could also set up perfectly for a Square Bill or the Rock N Vibe,” he said. Early in the season, he generally chooses between those two baits based on the amount of vegetation that is present. More of the green stuff means he’s more likely to go with a lipless lure. While there will be some hydrilla on the Red, he said that the river system is characterized by “a lot of wood and a lot of rock,” so he’s keyed in on the Square Bill bite.
“There will be a shallow reaction bite somewhere down there,” he added. “But the way I fish it will depend on the water
temperatures. If they’re not as warm, I’ll probably crawl the Square Bill along instead of banging it through the cover. I just won’t fish it as fast.”
As for colors, like Roumbanis he’ll key his choices to the water clarities that he finds when he gets there, but said that “combinations of chartreuse, orange and red always work well” just about anywhere this time of year. The IMA Hot Craw pattern is a favorite and Lowen’s Hush Hush is no longer a secret.
Regardless of how the Classic turns out, Lowen is looking forward to the 2012 BASS campaign. Of the eight Elite Series tournaments, at least seven seem likely to have a substantial shallow water bite. The lone possible exception is the “Mystery Lake” event that will occur after the Mississippi River, and even that one could prove to be right in Bill’s wheelhouse.
“This year sets up real nice for me,” he opined.
Dove Loves Amistad Living
Like Roumbanis and Lowen, IMA pro Kurt Dove no longer lives in his “home state.” The Virginia native picked up stakes a few years back and headed for Del Rio, Texas, where he’s quickly become a respected guide who continues to compete in national events as his busy guiding schedule allows.
We caught up with him as he prefished for a Southern Open in Florida, catching quality fish on a Roumba and a Rock N Vibe, but despite the bites he sounded a little homesick.
“It’s hard to leave Amistad right now, when the bite is so good,” he lamented.”We’ve had some good weights lately but the consistency with numbers has just been amazing. It’s a fun lake to fish with so many different ways to catch them and over the past few years I’ve gotten to know it so much better.”
One of his key tools of late has been the IMA Beast Hunter, particularly in the Silver Lining pattern, which excels in Amistad’s crystal clear water. He’s played with the lure quite a bit and discovered why it succeeds when other deep divers don’t.
“It’s been all about the stop and go retrieve,” he said. “It just comes through cover so well with that tight wobble. You can bring it through the deep trees or the grass and it doesn’t get hung up. When it comes out of the cover, that’s when they nail it.”
He’s also discovered that the retrieve can make all of the difference with the Rock N Vibe. This lure provides a heavier package in a small-profiled body and that allows him to crawl it through areas where bass live, whether that’s Amistad, in Florida or on his “original” home waters of the Potomac.
“This time of year, you can’t fish it too slow around grass,” he explained. “You want to crawl it and tick it through the cover. You hear it a lot, but it’s just too easy to get into a habit of tossing it out and winding it back with a medium or medium-fast retrieve. If you concentrate on slowing down your retrieve, you’ll catch a lot more fish.”
Your color choices in the Rock N Vibe may vary depending on your local water color and forage options. In Amistad’s clear waters, Dove relies upon Ghost Minnow and Chartreuse Shad most frequently, but as Lowen noted above, the chartreuses and particularly craw imitators like IMA’s brilliant Hot Craw should never be too far out of reach.
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