DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

ISH MONROE LEADS DAY 1 AT THE BIG O WITH 34-5

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/22/2012

Ish Monroe

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

Okeechobee, FL - The first half of the Florida swing wasn’t very kind to Ish Monroe.  Last week at the St. Johns River, the California pro weighed-in just 10-9 to finish in 96th Place.   What a difference a week can make.  On Thursday at Okeechobee, it took Monroe just eight hours to more than triple his total weight from the St. Johns.  With a massive limit weighing 34-5, Monroe took a commanding lead at the Power-Pole Slam. 

Monroe’s nearest competitor, Davy Hite, crossed the stage with an impressive limit weight 25-9, but sits just shy of 10-pounds behind Monroe for the lead. 

Ish MonroePerhaps the most impressive fact about Monroe’s opening day limit is the fact that not one of his fish eclipsed the 8-pound mark.  “They all look big, and they all look the same,” Monroe said to reporters as he toted two weigh-in bags to the holding tanks prior to weighing-in. 

“Even though it was windy, I decided to make a run across the lake this morning,” explained Monroe.  “I dropped the MotorGuide and started flippin’ a D Bomb around and caught a 3 1/2 – pounder.  I knew that it was a good start, but then all of the sudden I caught a 7-pounder.” 

After a quick start to his morning, things only continued to improve for Monroe.  After making a short move and missing two small bites, he returned to his starting area and boated a largemouth that approached the 8-pound mark.  “After that, I knew that it was on.”

Monroe, who willingly divulged that his limit on Thursday came on a Missile Baits D Bomb creature-style flipping bait, said that he believed his bait choice played a key role in his impressive limit on Thursday.  “There are other guys around me who are flipping other baits,” he explained.  “I tried other baits in practice, and that bait seemed to be the one that was ‘game on.’”

Throughout the day, Monroe said that he culled five or six small bass, but laid off his primary areas later in the day, knowing that the only thing that could help his limit would be a bite over 8-pounds.  “After practice, I was thinking that 20-pounds would be good,” he said.  “It’s an area that I’ve fished before, but I’ve never caught the fish out of there that I caught today.  That lets me know that there’s a whole lot of area left, because I didn’t fish a lot of it.  I feel good.”

While he doesn’t have a lot of company, Monroe said that he is sharing some of his water with two other anglers, one of them being Cliff Crochet, who finished the day in 18th Place.  Entering Friday with a lead approaching 10-pounds, Monroe said that he isn’t planning on changing anything.  “I’m fishing the way that I want to fish,” he said.  “I want to flip because I love flippin’.  If I’m not froggin’, I’m flippin’.  If I can flip, I’m going to do that all day long.  I’m just going to sit in there and settle down.”   

Hite Fished Clean
While Ish Monroe boxed several kicker fish within the first few hours of competition, it took until midmorning for 2nd Place finisher, Davy Hite, to put some quality keepers in the livewell.  “At 10:00, I had a limit that probably weighed around 9-pounds,” he explained.  “I just kept fishing really hard.”  The end result was an impressive 25-9 limit. 

Hite said that his first day of competition on Lake Okeechobee was a big change from last week on the St. Johns River, where he finished in 86th Place.  “Last week, I had fish on to make a decent finish and cash a check,” he explained.   “I just lost fish after fish.  Today was just the opposite.  When I got the quality bites, I was able to put them in the boat.”

Davy Hite

Hite said that his first kicker bite on Thursday, a 7-pounder, immediately wrapped him in the reeds.  “It got hung up and the fish was still really strong and green.  I went to the fish and I got it.  That almost never happens – usually the fish will break the line or pull off.  The good Lord blessed me today with some good fortune.” 

Hite explained that a change in areas proved to be the difference maker on Thursday.  “I moved areas, and that’s when I started catching the bigger fish.  I probably caught 20 keepers today, but the key in Florida is that when you get a big bite, you’ve got to really capitalize on it.” 

Nate WellmanWellman Sight Fished Early
“I’m in a popular area with a lot of other boats, but I’m not fishing the community hole,” said Nate Wellman after bringing a limit weighing 22-3 to the scales to finish in 3rd Place on Thursday.  While many of the competitors keyed exclusively on post-spawn bass, Wellman’s biggest bass of the day came off of a bed. 

“I planned on doing some bed fishing today because I had six or eight beds with some quality fish on them,” he said.  “Most of them were gone, but there were a few left out there.”  After maximizing the bedding bass bite, Wellman said that he fished his strengths for the remainder of the day.

“I’m power fishing, covering a lot of water, and doing something that I have a lot of confidence in down here in Florida,” he said.  “I’ve made a lot of money doing this (technique), and I really just had a good day."

Had it not been for two-hours that he spent fishing offshore, Wellman’s bag could have even been a little heavier.  “I wasted two hours today on the offshore stuff, but I might pop out there for a little tomorrow.  It was a really productive pattern during practice.” 

Chris Lane Caught Them Late
There’s no surprise that Chris Lane is once again near the top of the leader board this week at Lake Okeechobee. With two Bassmaster Open victories on The Big O over the course of his career, Lane’s 21-15 limit on Thursday put him in 4th Place – 12-ounces ahead of his brother, Bobby Lane. 

“It wasn’t good until about 1:30 today,” he explained.  “It was a matter of keeping my head and fishing this lake like I know how to.  When you know that you’re in an area that is holding big fish, you just have to figure out how to catch them.  If the fish aren’t acting like they did the day before, you’ve got to figure them out, and that was kind of the deal for me today.” 

Chris Lane

After losing a 6-pounder on his second flip of the morning, Lane said that the potential was there for the wheels to come off.  “After missing that bite, things got really slow,” he admitted. “I went and caught a quick limit and then went hunting for big bites.  Tomorrow, I’m going to look for the bigger ones all day.” 

After winning the Bassmaster Southern Open Florida earlier this year followed by the 2012 Bassmaster Classic title, there’s no doubt that Lane is at the top of his game right now.  When asked if he could remember the last time he made a bad decision on the water during tournament competition, Lane struggled to come up with an answer. 

Bobby LaneBobby Lane Culled Up
Lane followed up a solid practice on Okeechobee with a quality limit weighing 21-3 to round out the Top 5 on Thursday.  Making a long run early in the morning, Lane said that his initial spot surrendered two 7-pound bites which made the difference in his day. 

Typically a strong angler in his home state, Lane admitted that he’s just focused on making the Top 50 cut and cashing a check.  “Right now, I’m trying to make a check in Florida because I haven’t had one in the past three tournaments down here,” he said with a wry smile. 

While the 15-mile-per hour winds that have been present since the beginning of practice have muddied much of the water, Lane explained that he used the wind to his advantage on Thursday.  “It can actually be really good,” he said. “It really gets the fish biting.  The bait comes in and gets the bass active.  The wind was just right for me.” 

Fishing solo for the majority of the day, Lane said that he caught around 15 keepers on Thursday.  “I have a little shad spawn way down south that I think I can run to, but it’s only good for about 12-pounds,” he said.  “Most of the big ones that you catch are skinny.  That means that they’re post-spawn fish and they’re starting to feed up really good right now.” 

DAY 1 STANDINGS

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