DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

FREAK(ISH)...... MONROE WITH A BIG LEAD AT HALFTIME

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/23/2012

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush and Matt Pangrac

Okeechobee, FL – After posting 34-5 on the first day of the Bassmaster Elite Series Power-Pole Slam on Florida’s famed Lake Okeechobee, California’s Ish Monroe opened up a an 8-pound, 12-ounce lead over Davy Hite, his nearest competitor.  It was the largest Day One lead in Elite Series history.

On Friday, Monroe extended his robust lead, crossing the stage with another 24-15 limit to push his two-day total weight to 59-4.  Despite Chris Lane’s best effort to close the gap with a 23-10 limit of his own, Monroe’s lead grew to just under 14-pounds by the conclusion of Friday’s weigh-in. 

While watching live bait anglers catch giant largemouth in the general vicinity is usually an unnerving experience for an Elite Series pro or weekend tournament angler alike, Monroe said that he was actually encouraged by the fact that recreational angers using live shiners for bait were catching giants around him. 

Ish Monroe

“The shiner fishermen are catching them,” he explained.  They’re catching giants – 8- to 10-pounders.  There’s a lot of big fish definitely in the area, and I’m pretty excited about it…..I don’t think that the shiner fishermen are affecting my area at all.”

Monroe said that he ventured further into the dense vegetation in one of his backup areas on Friday and was rewarded with two solid fish.  “I actually slid back in further than I’d been fishing to cull up my limit,” he explained.  “I caught two 4-pounders and I missed another good one.  With the wind blowing the way that it is, it will actually give me some more water on my backup stuff.”

With a change in wind direction forecast for Saturday, Monroe said that it should actually help one of his best backup areas. “The wind is starting to blow out of the west, and that’s actually going to raise the water level.  The water got a little bit dirtier, but I think that actually was one of the reasons why I got a few more bites.  It was gin clear in there yesterday and that kind of freaked me out.”

After garnering six big bites on Thursday, Monroe said that he wasn’t able to duplicate the effort on Friday, and was forced to cull through numerous smaller fish.  “There were a lot of little fish mixed in, but I caught more fish than I did yesterday,” he said. “Today, it would be small one, small one, small one, big one. I think that I’m going to have to expand a little tomorrow because I kind of put a hurting on the area that I’d been fishing for most of the first day.”

Even after increasing his lead, Monroe knows that he has two more days before he can close the book on a historic Okeechobee tournament, and he has lofty goals for the weekend. “I’m really trying to go out and catch 30 (pounds) tomorrow and have the opportunity to try and break the all-time record,” he said with a smile.  “Maybe I’ll get a couple big bites and catch a 35-pound bag.” 

While he may have his sights set on the record, Monroe emphatically stated that he’s anything but comfortable with the sizable lead that he has opened.  “I want a 40-pound lead, and then I’ll feel comfortable,” he said with a smile.  “Anything could happen tomorrow.  If I only have 10-pounds tomorrow and Chris Lane has 25-pounds, then I’m trailing all of the sudden.”

Relying on a flipping stick and braided line for all of his bites, Monroe said that the tournament will most likely come down to execution.  “The biggest factor will be the fish biting and me landing all the fish.  I’ve got some sparse stuff and I’ve got some thick stuff – I just have to make sure that I land all of my bites.  I missed one today that I felt was a big one because the whole mat rolled when I set the hook.” 

Business as Usual for Lane
Despite bringing in a limit almost 2-pounds heavier than Thursday’s effort, and Ish Monroe’s limit being nearly 10-pounds lighter than on Thursday, Chris Lane fell further behind the surging Monroe while at the same time climbing to 2nd Place in the standings.  

With 23-10 on Friday, Lane will enter the weekend with a two-day total weight of 45-9, and the best chance of catching Monroe, should he stumble.  After dumping a 6-pounder on the second cast of the morning on Thursday, Lane again suffered from missed opportunities on Friday, as he lost two 6-pound bass. 

Chris Lane

“I put in my head that with the way that I’m fishing, I’m just going to assume that I’m going to lose a couple (big ones) a day,” he said.  “It’s just so thick and these fish are so mean down here,” he continued.  “These fish have been in the thick stuff for the last two days. Getting them out is tough, and they fight until the very end.”

While Lane’s bite didn’t pick up until the afternoon on Thursday, he said that Friday on Okeechobee was a different story.  “I pretty much hammered them all day,” he said.  I ran a little bit of new water and found some stuff later in the day and actually lost another 5-pounder.  I’m going to do a little changing around and maybe let the fish eat the bait a little bit more.”

Kriet Mixed and Matched
With a 70th Place finish last week on the St. Johns River, Oklahoma’s Jeff Kriet was in need of a good finish at Okeechobee to boost his chances of qualifying for the Grand Lake Classic in 2013.  After a solid 19-5 effort on Thursday, Kriet not only salvaged his Florida swing, but also jumped into contention on Friday after crossing the stage with another 21-14. 

Jeff Kriet

While the top two finishers are relying primarily on one technique, Kriet said that he mixed it up on Friday.  “I’ve really had to grind,” he said.  “When I get a bite, it’s either a 13-incher or a really good one.  I’ve got a lot of rods on my front deck and I’m really mixing it up.  Every time the conditions change, I change.”

As is often the case in Florida, capitalizing on the big bite has proved critical to Kriet’s success. “Everyday I’ve had the opportunity for a couple big ones,” he said.  “I had three really good ones and I was fortunate not to lose them.”

Reese Sight Fished
While the post-spawn bite has primarily dominated the week on Okeechobee, California’s Skeet Reese reveled that he has relied primarily on sight fishing to jump into the Top 5 with a two day total weight of 39-14. 

Reese said that for of the bass that he brought to the scales as part of his 20-8 limit on Friday were bedding bass, and his three biggest on Thursday were also spawners.   “I just got into an area where I found some bed fish that I was able to catch,” Reese explained.  “There’s still a couple around but it’s not anything to where I expect to go back in there and catch another 20-pounds.” 

Skeet Reese

With his supply of bedders dwindling, Reese said that he spent a good portion of his time on Friday searching for new areas.  “I’ve got some other areas where there are fish, but I don’t know the key to getting the bigger bites in there,” he admitted.  “Today, I caught plenty of fish by just fishing but they were all smaller ones.” 

Heading into the weekend, he’s optimistic about more big limits crossing the scales. “The water has been pushed into one side of the lake for who knows how long, and now it’s getting sucked back out and the water is going to clear up in some areas, so there’s the potential for the fishing to get a little bit better on the entire west side of the lake.”

Fox Relied on his Florida Roots
Like Jeff Kriet, rookie Kyle Fox is another angler who has rebounded nicely this week on Okeechobee after a lackluster performance on the St. Johns River.  Following a 76th place finish in his Elite Series debut, the young Florida pro weighed in 20-4 on Friday to push his two day total weight to 38-5.

Kyle Fox

“I’m just putting my head down and going,” Fox said after weighing-in.  “I’m flipping the whole time and doing what I do best.  I really don’t know what else to say.”  While he doesn’t have much experience on Okeechobee, Fox said that his extensive history in Florida has definitely helped him this week.

“The style of fishing that you have to do in order to catch the big bags is what I love to do.  I’ve been very fortunate to get a few big bites to keep me in this tournament.  On Friday, Fox said that his quality bite got better later in the day.

“I really haven’t felt good either morning going out to catch fish,” he admitted.  “It’s just happening for me during the day.” 

DAY 2 STANDINGS

Place PRO ANGLER Day 1Day 2 Total Fish Total Weight
FishWeightFishWeight
1 Ish Monroe 5 34- 5 5 24-15 10 59- 4
2 Chris Lane 5 21-15 5 23-10 10 45- 9
3 Jeff Kriet 5 19- 5 5 21-14 10 41- 3
4 Skeet Reese 5 19- 6 5 20- 8 10 39-14
5 Kyle Fox 5 18- 1 5 20- 4 10 38- 5
6 Todd Faircloth 5 19- 6 5 17-12 10 37- 2
7 Davy Hite 5 25- 9 5 10- 6 10 35-15
8 Ott DeFoe 5 14-13 5 20-13 10 35-10
9 Scott Rook 5 20-15 5 14-10 10 35- 9
10 Michael Iaconelli 5 15- 8 5 18-15 10 34- 7
11 David Walker 5 16-10 5 17- 7 10 34- 1
12 Britt Myers 5 14- 9 5 19- 4 10 33-13
13 Gary Klein 5 13- 0 5 19-12 10 32-12
14 Randy Howell 5 18-10 5 14- 2 10 32-12
15 Jason Quinn 5 12-11 5 19-14 10 32- 9
16 Stephen Kennedy 5 10-15 5 21- 2 10 32- 1
17 Bobby Lane 5 21- 3 5 10-10 10 31-13
18 Terry Scroggins 5 12- 1 5 19-12 10 31-13
19 Keith Combs 5 14- 1 5 17- 0 10 31- 1
20 Gerald Swindle 5 14- 2 5 16-11 10 30-13
21 Tommy Biffle 5 16- 3 5 14- 4 10 30- 7
22 Jeremy Starks 5 15-12 5 14- 9 10 30- 5
23 Zell Rowland 5 11-14 5 18- 4 10 30- 2
24 Bill Lowen 5 14-11 5 14-13 10 29- 8
25 Brent Chapman 5 12-10 5 16-10 10 29- 4
26 Nate Wellman 5 22- 3 5 6-14 10 29- 1
27 Edwin Evers 5 10-11 5 18- 1 10 28-12
28 Jason Williamson 5 17- 7 5 11- 5 10 28-12
29 Marty Robinson 4 8- 0 5 20- 5 9 28- 5
30 Derek Remitz 5 12- 6 5 15-12 10 28- 2
31 Bradley Roy 5 20- 9 5 7- 8 10 28- 1
32 Brent Broderick 5 15- 4 5 12-12 10 28- 0
33 Kelly Jordon 5 8-12 5 19- 1 10 27-13
34 James Niggemeyer 4 8- 7 5 19- 3 9 27-10
35 Cliff Crochet 5 16- 0 5 11- 3 10 27- 3
36 Mike McClelland 5 11-10 5 15- 3 10 26-13
37 Yusuke Miyazaki 5 12- 9 5 14- 3 10 26-12
38 Rick Clunn 5 15- 2 5 11- 8 10 26-10
39 Kevin VanDam 5 14- 7 5 12- 2 10 26- 9
40 Fletcher Shryock 5 16- 4 5 10- 2 10 26- 6
41 Shaw E Grigsby 5 11- 7 5 14-15 10 26- 6
42 Fred Roumbanis 5 14- 5 5 11-15 10 26- 4
43 Jared Lintner 5 12- 1 5 14- 3 10 26- 4
44 Brandon Card 5 9- 3 5 16-14 10 26- 1
45 Mark Davis 5 14-10 5 11- 7 10 26- 1
46 Morizo Shimizu 5 12-15 5 13- 0 10 25-15
47 J Todd Tucker 5 12- 4 5 13-10 10 25-14
48 John Murray 5 8-15 5 16-12 10 25-11
49 Paul Elias 5 14- 6 5 11- 5 10 25-11
50 Pat Golden 5 15- 8 5 10- 2 10 25-10
51 Cliff Prince 5 13- 4 5 12- 6 10 25-10
52 Russell Lane 5 12- 9 5 12-12 10 25- 5
53 Russell Parrish 5 14- 8 5 10- 5 10 24-13
54 Kevin Short 5 17- 5 5 6-15 10 24- 4
55 Keith Poche 5 12- 4 5 11-12 10 24- 0
56 Denny Brauer 5 11- 7 5 12- 8 10 23-15
57 Jamie Horton 5 14- 6 5 9- 6 10 23-12
58 Aaron Martens 5 11-10 5 12- 1 10 23-11
59 Takahiro Omori 5 10-15 5 12- 9 10 23- 8
60 John Crews 5 11- 4 5 12- 3 10 23- 7
61 Terry Butcher 3 6-11 5 15-15 8 22-10
62 Greg Vinson 5 8-12 5 13- 8 10 22- 4
63 Cliff Pace 5 10-12 5 11- 8 10 22- 4
64 Matthew Herren 5 6- 1 5 15-12 10 21-13
65 Casey Scanlon 5 8-15 5 12-10 10 21- 9
66 Dean Rojas 5 10- 1 5 11- 5 10 21- 6
67 Byron Velvick 5 11- 6 5 9-12 10 21- 2
68 Boyd Duckett 5 14- 3 5 6-15 10 21- 2
69 Alton Jones 5 13- 1 5 8- 0 10 21- 1
70 Charlie Hartley 5 8- 9 5 11-13 10 20- 6
71 Stephen Browning 5 8-12 5 11- 1 10 19-13
72 Travis Manson 5 9- 1 5 10-11 10 19-12
73 Jonathon VanDam 5 10- 7 5 9- 5 10 19-12
74 Jared Miller 5 7- 1 5 12-10 10 19-11
75 Brian Snowden 5 8-15 5 10-12 10 19-11
76 Pete Ponds 5 10-13 5 8-12 10 19- 9
77 Casey Ashley 5 9-11 5 9-13 10 19- 8
78 Chris Zaldain 5 10- 8 5 8- 7 10 18-15
79 Clark Reehm 5 7- 8 5 10-14 10 18- 6
80 Timmy Horton 5 11- 8 4 6-13 9 18- 5
81 Matt Greenblatt 5 8- 1 5 10- 0 10 18- 1
82 Greg Hackney 5 11-12 4 6- 5 9 18- 1
83 Andy Montgomery 5 9-11 5 8- 4 10 17-15
84 Bernie Schultz 5 11-15 4 6- 0 9 17-15
85 Rick Morris 5 6- 5 5 11- 5 10 17-10
86 Mark Menendez 5 9-15 5 7-11 10 17-10
87 Jami Fralick 5 12- 6 5 5- 1 10 17- 7
88 Billy McCaghren 5 9-14 5 7- 5 10 17- 3
89 Kenyon Hill 5 7- 7 5 9-12 10 17- 3
90 Brandon Palaniuk 5 13- 8 1 3- 4 6 16-12
91 Dustin Wilks 4 7- 8 5 9- 0 9 16- 8
92 David Smith 5 9- 5 5 6-11 10 16- 0
93 Michael Simonton 5 6- 5 5 8- 4 10 14- 9
94 Scott Ashmore 5 8- 0 5 6- 9 10 14- 9
95 Matt Reed 4 8- 7 5 6- 0 9 14- 7
96 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 8- 9 5 5- 7 10 14- 0
97 Grant Goldbeck 2 10-12 1 2- 5 3 13- 1
98 Kevin Ledoux 0 0- 0 5
5-15
5 5-15
99 Chad Griffin 5 3-15 0 0-00
5 3-15