Monsoor blows into first place - Major League Fishing

Monsoor blows into first place

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This nice-sized largemouth contributed to La Crosse's Tom Monsoor's Pro Division-leading five-bass stringer of 12 pounds, 7 ounces in the semifinal round. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Tom Monsoor.
June 15, 2001 • Jeff Schroeder • Toyota Series

Three local pros make top 10 using same lure

LA CROSSE, Wis. – The water changes. So does the weather. But one thing remains the same in pro bass fishing: It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the local anglers – especially if they’re all using the same bait.

Tom Monsoor of La Crosse captured the Pro Division lead qualifying spot in today’s semifinal-round action of the EverStart Northern Division tournament on the Mississippi River. He landed five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces and edged out runner-up Joe Balog of Independence, Ohio, who caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 9 ounces.

On a day when the river was rising and the weather was a little weird due to unpredictable winds, Monsoor found a way to trick a few fish into biting. His secret weapon: a homemade black-and-blue jig. He calls it Tom’s Swimming Jig. It’s a lure he made himself and has used in tournaments for about 12 years.

“You can throw it into anything,” he said. “It’s a weedless jig. That’s the secret.”

And it works. Monsoor has accumulated 11 top-10 finishes on the Red Man Tournament Trail (now Wal-Mart BFL) Great Lakes Division primarily using the jig. Last year he won two Great Lakes Division tournaments – right here on the Mississippi River, no less – using it exclusively.

Said Monsoor, “Guys are always asking me for it and I don’t give it to anybody – except those two guys.”

Douglas StantonDarren ZumachThose two guys are Douglas Stanton and Darren Zumach, two other pros who made today’s top-10 cut and qualified for the final round by also using Tom’s Swimming Jig. Monsoor said he didn’t mind that Stanton (who hails from Winona, Minn., just upriver from La Crosse) and Zumach (from Onalaska, Wis., just east of La Crosse) used his secret lure today. They’re all basically part of the same fishing circle in the Mississippi River Valley.

In fact, Stanton, who placed fifth with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces, sort of pulled a sneaky Pete on Monsoor to get his hands on the coveted jig earlier in the week.

“The Minnesotan sent his little boy over and asked to buy one for a dollar,” chuckled Monsoor. “So I gave him a few of them and told him, `Don’t let your dad use these.’ You should have seen (Stanton’s) face when he came in and said he caught a 5- and a 4-pounder with my jig.”

Tomorrow Monsoor, who caught eight keeper bass today, plans on employing a simple strategy to outfox Stanton and Zumach as well as the rest of the field in Saturday’s final round.

“I figure the worst I can do is finish 10th,” he said. “So I might as well go for the big ones.”

Following Monsoor and Balog were Rick Martin of Harvard, Ill., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces, who tied with Danny Engleking of Brookston, Ind., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces, for third place. Stanton, fifth place, caught five bass weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 were Ronald Cherkas (6th place) of Des Moines, Iowa, with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces; Chet Reed (7th) of Muskegon, Mich., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce; the affable Jimmi Leuthner (8th) of Vernon, Vt., with five bass weighing 11 pounds even; Zumach (9th) with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces; and Scott Parker (10th) with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 7 ounces.

Hayes airs it out to capture co-angler lead

Pete Hayes took the Co-Angler Division lead with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 11 ounces.It’s not every day that a southern angler comes north and raves about how many fish he’s catching. But James “Pete” Hayes of Liberty, Ky., who qualified in the top Co-Angler Division spot today with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 11 ounces, did just that after today’s semifinal round.

“I’m from the (BFL) Mountain Division,” he explained. “If we get one bite we’re doing well. I’ve done caught more up here in three days than all year down there. I’ve caught 50 to 60 fish the last three days.”

Today started slowly for Hayes, however. By lunchtime, he only had one keeper bite to his name. Then as clouds started rolling in and fighter jets from a local air show started buzzing the Mississippi River Valley, he landed four good keeper bass shortly thereafter.

Hayes, whose son Jeremy is ranked second in the 2001 Mountain Division standings, credited his pro partners as well as his ability to focus even under changing conditions for his success throughout the week.

“I’ve been working on that,” he said of his concentration.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler qualifiers were Paul Dostal (2nd place) of La Crosse with four bass weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces; Jeff Barth (3rd) of Marshfield, Wis., with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces; Thomas Strangstalien (4th) of West Salem, Wis., with four bass weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces; Richie Eaves (5th) of Nauvoo, Ill., with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces; Ted Will (tied for 6th) of Zeeland, Mich., with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces; Ron Fabiszak (tied for 6th) of South Bend, Ind., with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces; Michael Smith (8th) of Cedar Falls, Iowa, with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces; Michael Froseth (9th) of Eau Claire, Wis., with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces; and Joseph Pappas (10th) of Southgate, Mich., with three bass weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces.

Tomorrow, the top 10 pros and co-anglers will start at zero for the final round. The winning pro will receive $15,000 cash and a new Ranger boat plus a $1,000 bonus from Garmin if he or she was using a fixed-mount Garmin sonar product. The winning co-angler will collect $6,000 cash.

Saturday’s final-round action begins at 5:30 a.m. at West Clinton Street Ramp in La Crosse. The final weigh-in begins at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 1210 Crossing Meadows Drive in Onalaska, Wis.

Day-three related links:

Tomorrow’s pairings
Press release