In 2011 you’d be hard pressed to find a professional angler with a busier schedule than Hughson, California’s Ish Monroe. On his schedule for 2011 are the full Elite Series schedule plus asmany FLW Tour, FLW Opens, and PAA events he can fit onto his calendar.
With a schedule stacked with events week after week Monroe couldn’t have picked a better time to get into “the zone.” So far in 2011 Monroe has amassed 3 top-12 cuts on the Elite Series Tour. In 3 events on the FLW Tour he has 2 top 50 cuts including a 17th place finish at Lake Hartwell on the FLW Tour.
When asked about his hot streak in 2011 Monroe explained, “When you are fishing as much as I am you don’t get to do as much forward thinking about the events as you might with time off. So I fish my strengths as much as possible, froggin’ and flippin’.”
While Monroe has caught fish on dozens of baits during the 2011 campaign he believes his return to his strengths whenever possible is one of the reasons for his success. “I love to fish, and love to fish any bait, but when I have the frog or flippin’ stick in my hand I know I am at my best.”
On the Arkansas River, this past week (June 10-13th) Monroe put his favorite bait to work. Fishing the Snag ProofPhat frog all three days almost exclusively Monroe was able to finish in fourth place and put him in solid position to qualify for the 2012 Bassmaser Classic.
Monroe fished the backwaters of pool 7 on the Arkansas River. “The key was finding the backwaters with moving water. It didn’t matter if the water was coming in from another backwater or from the main river, it just had to be moving,” explained Monroe.
Once he found moving water he fished open water over rock and wood. Ish describes the way he fishes the Phat Frog in open water as a walk the dog style action. “The Phat Frog is the best walking frog on the market and that is important in open water. With a simple twitch of the rod I am able to get the Phat Frog to walk back and forth and the fish couldn’t resist it.”
Choosing a color of any bait is often a decision that most anglers spend a lot of time contemplating. Monroe is no different, and he chooses the color of his Phat frog based on weather conditions, water color and the forage of the water he is fishing. “The Arkansas River is muddy and when I am fishing dirty water or on overcast days I like the Papa Midnight color. I caught every fish I weighed in on a Papa Midnight Phat Frog, and quite a few more during pre-fish.”
An interesting side note for most frog anglers is the number of baits he went through during the week. With three days of prefishing and four days of the event and over 35 bass boatedMonroe used a single frog. “The Tube Technology that we’ve built the bait around keeps water out, provides for a great hook up ratio and keeps the bait in one piece.”
Monroe used a 7’4” XBD Daiwa Steez rod that Monroe helped design, a Daiwa Zillion Type R High Speed reel and 55-pound Daiwa Samurai Braid.
“The 7’4” Daiwa Steez rod is perfect for open water and fishing over matted grass or vegetation. It’s light and has the perfect action to walk the Phat Frog in open water. Yet, its strong enough to get the fish out of heavy cover.”
For open water fishing Monroe uses the 55-pound class Samurai Braid. When he’s fishing over vegetation he’ll upgrade to the 70-pound Samurai Braid.
On the reel selection, Monroe points to the high speed aspect of the Zillion that makes it the go-to reel. “When a fish takes the bait in open water and runs at you, the high speed retrieve allows me to catch up to it and get a good hook set. “
On to Wheeler Lake
Next up for Monroe is Lake Wheeler and although Monroe doesn’t think the Phat Frog will be his main pattern he knows it will still play a role in the event. “Wheeler is known for fishing the deep shell beds. But the frog is my number one pitch and a few bites on a frog can change the game, so I’ll have it on the deck and toss it around quite a bit I am sure. “