It was another hot one at the California Delta for the second event of the Toyota Series Western Division season. MLF pro and local legend Ish Monroe scorched the field even more than the heat with his third 20-plus-pound bag of the tournament to take home the hardware.
Monroe finished the event with 65 pounds, 13 ounces – 16 pounds, 7 ounces more than second-place finisher and day-one leader Beau Joudrey.
On a day when many anglers struggled, Monroe continued to do what he does best and went punching and frogging on his home waters to secure his third FLW victory on the California Delta.
If there was ever a tournament that fits into Monroe's wheelhouse, this was it. Luckily for him, it also fit into his busy schedule.
These are his home waters, and it’s the prime season for punching thick vegetation and throwing a frog – two techniques he’s best known for and two tactics that have made him plenty of money over the years.
Relying on his years of experience on the Delta and with tidal fisheries in general, Monroe adjusted his fishing locations based on the tide and not the potential.
"The first day, we had a slack tide in my best area, so I started on a different spot just because the tide was running," he says. "There was some current there, and I started punching and caught them right away. I had over 20 pounds in the first hour."
"I went with 70-pound just because the fish on the Delta are so much bigger," Monroe says. "I had two of the same setups and different weight sizes: a 1 1/4- and 1 3/4–ounce River2Sea Trash Bomb. I adjusted it based on how thick the vegetation was."
Speaking of vegetation, the California Delta is full of it, and each day, Monroe fished slightly different variations – but there was one key piece of the puzzle.
"It was mainly milfoil with hyacinth mats mixed in," Monroe explains. "On the final day, it was more pennywort, but, there had to be tules mixed in. Tules had to be there to get bit."
After sacking 21 pounds, 4 ounces on the first day, Monroe found himself in third place, and when the second day rolled around, he went right back to where he started the first day.
"Obviously, if you catch 20 pounds somewhere so fast, you’ll go back and check it out," Monroe says. "I went to that same stretch and caught one good one and a few decent ones to get me started. From there, I went to the area I wanted to fish the first day and started throwing a frog."
Monroe is known for his prowess with a frog, and he proved why again on the California Delta with some key fish, including a 7-pounder on the second day.
"I got to my spot and missed a giant," Monroe says. "About 30 feet further down the stretch, I caught that 7. I already had a 4- and 6-pounder boxed, and that's how I got that bag.
His frog this week was yet another product that bears his name, the River2Sea Ish Monroe Phat Mat Daddy Frog in the yellow head color. He fished it on his signature series 7-foot, 4-inch heavy Daiwa Tatula Elite rod with a 7.1:1 Daiwa Tatula Elite reel spooled with 55-pound-test Daiwa Samurai braided line.
Going into the final day, Monroe had a lead of 7 pounds, but on a fishery with plenty of 10-pounders swimming around, no lead is safe. He knew he would have to catch them again to secure the win.
"I started the day in the same general area I’ve been fishing all week," says Monroe, who reveals he was in what locals refer to as the "Middle Delta" area. "I didn't fish the same exact areas, but I was close by all three days."
On the final day, he started fast and quickly caught a limit punching in water that was between 1 and 6 feet, the critical depth he targeted all week.
"Right off the bat, I had a limit," he says. "After that, I ran to my frog area and never got bit. I made another little move and caught one about 4 pounds punching and then caught one over 8 pounds and that did it."
Top 10 Boaters
1. Ish Monroe – Oakdale, Calif. – 65-13 (15) – $23,420
2. Beau Joudrey – Oakley, Calif. – 49-6 (15) – $9,075
3. Mark Lassagne – Dixon, Calif. – 46-14 (15) – $7,026
4. Michael Caruso – Peoria, Ariz. – 45-2 (15) – $5,855
5. Bryant Smith – Roseville, Calif. – 44-14 (15) – $5,269
6. Ken Mah – Elk Grove, Calif. – 44-7 (14) – $4,747
7. Jon Strelic – El Cajon, Calif. – 43-2 (15) – $4,298
8. Logan Huntze – Discovery Bay, Calif. – 42-0 (15) – $3,513
9. Joe Uribe Jr. – Surprise, Ariz. – 41-14 (15) – $2,927
10. Tai Au – Glendale, Ariz. – 39-15 (15) – $2,342