When a pro fisherman is forced to cull 6-pound bass he knows its going to be one of those days for the record books.
Ish Monroe had one of those magical days Thursday as he took an 8 pound, 12 ounce lead over Davy Hite on the first day of the Bassmaster Elite Series Power-Pole Slam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida.
Monroe caught big fish after big fish after big fish Thursday on his way to a five-fish limit that weighed 34 pounds, 5 ounces. It was so good of a day that Monroe was able to cull a 6-plus-pounder making room for his biggest bass of the day, a 7-pound, 11-ounce brute.
Monroe said that he caught all of his bass by flipping a creature bait called the D Bomb. The bait is made by Missile Baits, a company owned by one of his fellow Bassmaster Elite Series pros, John Crews. Monroe rigged it for a large profile, “and those big ones just seemed to hit it,” he said.
All his fish came from an area he knew about from previous Okeechobee tournaments. He expected it to produce, but it exceeded his expectations Thursday.
“I thought it would be good for 20 pounds, which I’ve caught there before. But I never caught what I did today,” Monroe said.
The second-round of the four day tournament is Friday. Monroe says he’ll repeat his flipping pattern but slow it down a bit and look closer for the small ditches his fish were holding in Thursday.
“The slower I can fish, the better my chances for another big bag like today,” he said. The best part, he added, is that the area might hold out for three more competition days.
“I feel great. After what happened last week, being at the bottom of the pack, I’m feeling good, and I’m catching them the way I want to catch them,” said Monroe, who failed to make the Top 50 cut last week in the Elite event on the St. Johns River.
Nate Wellman of Newaygo, Mich., was third with 22-3 after the first day. In fourth place was 2012 Bassmaster Classic champ Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala., with 21-15. In fifth place was Lane’s brother, Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., just 12 ounces behind with 21-3.
First prize in the competition is $100,000 and an instant qualification for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. Pros are also fishing for points that count toward a Classic berth, postseason entry and the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.