Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi - Major League Fishing
Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi
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Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi

Swim jig king has a 1-1 lead going into the final day
Image for Monsoor stays ahead on the Mississippi
Tom Monsoor Photo by Charles Waldorf. Angler: Tom Monsoor.
July 31, 2020 • Sean Ostruszka • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

He’s had as much or more success on the Mississippi River than any angler out there … except at the highest level. With one day to go, Tom Monsoor has put himself in position to change that.

The swim jig king of the river has 26 top 10s and six victories in various levels of FLW competition on the river to this point. Yet, the last time the Pro Circuit came to his home waters in 2017, he bombed into 105th.

This time around has been considerably better, as he held onto his lead going into the final day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries. Despite a little drama to start and end his day, Monsoor managed to catch more fish than he had the previous two days combined to bring in a 13-pound, 5-ounce limit to give him and even 42 pounds through three days. 

Complete results

“These are my worst tournaments,” says Monsoor about the higher-level FLW events on the Mississippi. “The worst! I couldn’t do any worse. I have the best practices. This is the first one it hasn’t screwed me on. So, I want this real bad. All you can do is fish as hard as you can, and nobody fishes harder than me. I know that. I don’t stop.”

He certainly didn’t today, as he had two offshore spots in the Black River on Pool 8 that were pumping out fish to start his day off. Well, at least one was until a small altercation with a local water ski boat who wanted to use a course that Monsoor was fishing near.

“That kinda wrecked my morning,” says Monsoor. “I’ve been here all my life, and I’ve never had anybody do that. They ski there all the time. I fish there all the time. There’s never been a problem. That took the edge off right away. I was having fun until that. I was going to catch some fish there, too. But he shut it down.”

Fortunately, his second offshore spot was pumping out fish almost every cast. The only problem is they were cookie-cutters with little size. So around noon, he only had roughly 10 pounds in his livewell.

Figuring that was enough to get him to Saturday, Monsoor opted to try to fish for bigger bites when he noticed something late in the day that prompted some clutch catches.

“I noticed the water was going up,” says Monsoor. “So I fished an old spot, but I fished it different. I caught three in the last half hour. I always hear people say they did that, but that never happens to me.”

Monsoor wasn’t the only pro who noticed the rising water levels in Pool 8 – THE pool to be in this week, as seven of the top 10 are fishing there and none of the top 10 fished in Pool 7 on day three. Many pros mentioned the water had come up at least 6 inches, which may not seem like much, but on the Mississippi River, it is, as it opens up backwater areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

It also may hurt Monsoor and his offshore areas come tomorrow.

“[The rising water] don’t help anything,” says Monsoor. “The fish are moving up now because the water is moving up. That’s what they do here. I like low water because it concentrates them. So I’ll try offshore spots tomorrow, for at least a half hour. And then I’ll go looking for big ones.”


Zack Birge

2. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 40-15 (15)

Anglers come to the Mississippi River to fish shallow, but the top two anglers are making hay out deeper.

Birge has one spot in Pool 8 that he’s caught more than 80 fish from over three days. And he’s doing it quick, having the majority of his weight on day two by 8:05 a.m. and a good portion of it today by around the same time.

“It’s just a little hole,” says Birge about his spot. “Nothing special. There’s one tire on bottom and a couple sticks. The rest just feels like sandy bottom. I think it’s just deepest water in there, and the fish just congregate in there.”

Birge had been running a secondary pattern the first two days, but today that pattern dried up, forcing him to return to his main spot to cull out two key fish. As for tomorrow, he plans to “milk it for everything it’s worth” in an attempt to try and get a win he’d covet.

“Other than winning at home, this would be my most desired place to win at,” Birge says. “It’d mean a lot to win here, for sure. Hopefully, I can get a bigger bite or two tomorrow since I know there’s some big fish in there. I just wasn’t able to get them to bite today. They bit yesterday. So maybe they’ll bite tomorrow.”


David Walker

3. David Walker – Sevierville, Tenn. – 40-8 (15)

Around 12:30 p.m. today, Walker finally got to cull for the first time. What he realized was a pleasant surprise.

“I got [to the back of the boat], and I was like, ‘Jeez, all my fish are big,” says Walker, who weighed in the biggest bag of the day at 15-1. “I didn’t really know what to do.”

That was nice problem to have, especially since Walker’s goal all week was to just catch bags in the “high 12s” to keep moving up. But with that well taken care of, it afforded Walker an opportunity today to do something rare.

“I felt like I needed to explore some ideas I had in my head,” says Walker, who is just fishing things that are “different.” “I never do that, but in this one here, points don’t matter. I felt like I’m in the money. So, just try this, try that to get ready for tomorrow. I’m just fishing really loose and it’s working.”


Scott Wiley

4. Scott Wiley – Bay Minette, Ala. – 40-5 (14)

When you have four fish for more than 12 pounds, you’re around the right quality. But the fact Wiley couldn’t get No. 5 today cost him dearly.

“I’m real disappointed,” says Wiley about only weighing in four fish. “I had a real good bag going. I couldn’t scratch out that fifth one, and I did everything I could to do it.”

Wiley started in Pool 9 like he has been the first two days. Only, his starting spot didn’t work out as planned. Fortunately, his back-up plan did, as he caught a 4 ½-pounder, 3-pounder and 2-pounder in quick order. Unfortunately, that was it down in Pool 9, and around 1 p.m. he came back up to Pool 8 to fish a frog, which produced a quick 3-pounder. However, he only got one more bite after that, and he doesn’t know if it was a bass.

As for tomorrow, Wiley figures he’s scrapping Pool 9 to try and win in Pool 8.

“We’re going to go out tomorrow, swing for the fence and try to hit it over,” say Wiley. “Hell, worst I can do is finish 10th.”


Jacob Wheeler

5. Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn. – 39-12 (15)

You don’t get to be the best angler in the sport by playing it safe, and Wheeler is definitely not doing that.

After spending significant portions of the first two days in Pool 7, Wheeler finally committed himself today solely to Pool 8 in hopes of getting the bigger bites. He only got six bites all day, which may not sound great, but he landed all of them, which is a positive change from the last two days when he’s lost some key bites.

That’s encouraging for him, as he knows he’ll need a 15-pound bag to win tomorrow and he feels he has the mindset and spots to make it happen.

“This is the thing: I know where some big ones live, that’s for dang sure.,” says Wheeler. “So tomorrow, I’ll see what I need to do to have a chance to win, because that’s all I really care about is winning. If I finish tenth tomorrow trying to make it happen I’ll be completely OK with it.”


Top 10 pros

1. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 42-0 (15)

2. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 40-15 (15)

3. David Walker – Sevierville, Tenn. – 40-8 (15)

4. Scott Wiley – Bay Minette, Ala. – 40-5 (14)

5. Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn. – 39-12 (15)

6. Tyler Stewart – West Monroe, La. – 39-9 (15)

7. Kyle Hall – Granbury, Texas – 39-0 (15)

8. Bailey Boutries – Daphne, Ala. – 37-13 (15)

9. Clark Reehm – Elm Grove, La. – 37-10 (15)

10. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 37-9 (14)

Complete results