Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi - Major League Fishing
Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi
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Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi

Veteran river rat takes the lead on his home waters
Image for Monsoor Moves Ahead at the Mississippi
Tom Monsoor Photo by Cobi Pellerito. Angler: Tom Monsoor.
July 30, 2020 • Sean Ostruszka • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Anglers came to the Mississippi River expecting two things – to catch a lot of fish and for local legend Tom Monsoor to catch more than most.

The first hasn’t come to fruition. Instead of sore hands from catching dozens of bass a day, the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries has hurt plenty of egos. More than 80 pros today failed to weigh in a limit, and even the top pros are catching maybe 10 keepers a day at best.

Monsoor says the river is fishing as tough as he’s seen it in a while, but that hasn’t stopped him from making the second expectation a reality. He quietly sat in seventh after yesterday, but today he decided to put himself in the familiar pole position thanks to a 14-pound, 8-ounce bag. That moves the La Crosse, Wis., pro to a total weight of 28-11 after two days.

Complete results

Tom Monsoor

“I can’t believe [the fishing is] as bad as it is,” says Monsoor, who figures the small shad size is a big reason for the tough fishing.  “In two weeks it will be phenomenal [when the shad get a little bigger]. That’s the difference between 15- and 20-pound bags here is three weeks. That’s La Crosse for you.”

If anyone would know it’s Monsoor. The veteran has 27 top 10s and seven victories in various levels of FLW competition on the river to his name. And that level of experience usually benefits a local in a tough tournament like this. But Monsoor says it’s actually hurting him.

“When they’re going nuts, I find them here,” says Monsoor. “I find schools of them. I pull up on a spot and catch 20. That’s fun. This hasn’t been fun. Yesterday I caught 7 keepers (along with losing a 5-pounder), and today I only caught 10.”

It’s been so tough that Monsoor actually admitted he’s thrown something other than his infamous homemade swim jigs; toying with topwaters, footballs jigs and Yamamoto Senkos. Of course, all of his weight has still come on the jig.

And the bulk of his weight has come from one area in Pool 8. Initially, Monsoor started day one in Pool 7, where he had seven schools of fish marked, but from those schools he caught just two fish. That prompted him to move to Pool 8 to finish his limit, and today, he opted to hunker down in Pool 8 for the day.

Tom Monsoor

As for the area, there’s one simple reason he’s there.

“I’m looking for a bigger bite,” says Monsoor, who weighed in a pair of smallmouths today after only largemouths yesterday. “I’m going to areas I’ve caught 3-, 4- and 5-pounders. It ain’t working, but I’m trying.”

As for tomorrow, Monsoor says for anyone watching FLW Live to expect more of the same – him tossing a swim jig and just “going fishing.”

“This is anybody’s tournament,” says Monsoor. “I could get nothing tomorrow, and someone can get a big bag. Things change overnight here.”

 

Scott Wiley

2. Scott Wiley – Bay Minette, Ala. – 27-15 (10)

Slipping out of the lead might disappoint an angler, but Wiley has few complaints right now.

“I’m happy,” says the day-one leader. “Everything is working out just as I planned it, except I just needed one more big bite today.”

Thus far, Wiley has been running a two-pool pattern. He starts down in Pool 9, where he has a specific flipping pattern that allows him to catch a limit – he caught seven keepers doing it this morning. Then he locks back up into Pool 8 to toss around a frog trying for two or three big bites.

It worked perfect yesterday and seemed to be on its way to it again today. After locking up around 11:30 a.m., he quickly caught a 4-pounder on the frog. There was just one problem after.

“I didn’t get another bite after that,” says Wiley. “I stayed in there the rest of the day to catch one more and never did.”

 

Bailey Boutries

3. Bailey Boutries – Daphne, Ala. – 27-14 (10)

Boutries isn’t over complicating things. He’s sticking in Pool 8. He’s putting a BOOYAH Pad Crasher in his hands. And he’s covering water. Rinse. Repeat.

“I just have been getting lucky and gotten some decent bites,” says Boutries. “I had 10 bites today. I’ll go two hours without a bite until I catch a few. So I’m not catching a bunch. I only culled one time. But when I get a bite, it’s a good one.”

Now, it may sound like random luck, but Boutries is keyed on something a little different with his frog. 

“The whole river looks amazing,” says Boutries. “I think most people are focusing on the big grass mats, and it’s easy to get sucked into that. There’s just so much of it. So I’ve been focusing on something a little different, and it’s paying off.”

 

Zack Birge

4. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 27-13 (10)

He may call the Sooner State home, but La Crosse is Birge’s “favorite place in the whole country.”

“I grew up fishing on the Arkansas River,” says Birge. “It’s a little different, but there’s a lot of things that carry over from there to here. I feel at home when I’m fishing here. I just enjoy it. I catch a ton of fish. That’s what I enjoy most.”

Now, typically, “a ton of fish” for Birge is 50 fish a day, but he’s still catching 15 to 20 a day even with how tough it is thanks to two different deals.

He has an area in Pool 8 he starts in that he can quickly catch a limit flipping and frogging. From there, he switches to a pattern that he can run throughout the river. He’s done the two-pronged approach both days, catching a 50-50 mix of largemouth and smallmouth. But today, he got bigger bites to help him bring in the largest bag of the event, 16-6.

“I pulled into my first spot and caught 4-pounder on my tenth cast,” says Birge. “Then I caught two more good ones right after that. Just everything went right today.”

 

Bradford Beavers

5. Bradford Beavers – Summerville, S.C. – 27-9 (10)

Up until 2:15 p.m., Beavers’ day was less than stellar.

Sure, he caught a 3-pounder within the first 20 minutes of today while fishing in Pool 8, but with less than an hour in his day he only had four keepers.

“I was trying to run new water and wasn’t having any luck,” says Beavers. “I kind of ran out of places to go. So I said ‘the heck with it.’ I decided to go back to one area where I knew some live, and I ended up catching three there.”

Beavers is certainly having to work for his fish, and he’s not catching many – only seven fish each day, with a 50-50 split of both species. Yesterday he weighed in two smallmouths and three today, but no fish over 4 pounds.

As for the areas he’s fishing, he says he has one key stretch with a good population of fish. Otherwise, it’s just been “whatever looks good without tearing my boat up.”

 

Top 10 pros

1. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 28-11 (10)

2. Scott Wiley – Bay Minette, Ala. – 27-15 (10)

3. Bailey Boutries – Daphne, Ala. – 27-14 (10

4. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 27-13 (10)

5. Bradford Beavers – Summerville, S.C. – 27-9 (10)

6. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 27-4 (10)

7. Tyler Stewart – West Monroe, La. – 27-3 (10)

8. Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn. – 27-2 (10)

9. Clark Reehm – Elm Grove, La. – 26-7 (10)

10. Clayton Batts – Butler, Ga. – 26-1 (10)

Complete results