California’s Ish Monroe cut it close when he qualified for the 2017 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe in Texas.
He finished the year in 40th place in Angler of the Year standings and was the last man in after all was said and done. Now that he is part of the field, he is going all in for the win. Here are the four techniques he plans to use to get it done.
Whopper Plopper at the Bassmaster Classic
Perhaps the hottest bait on the planet and a lure known for catching big ones, the Whopper Plopper could come in to play at the Classic according to Monroe. “We are going to be there right around the spawn and the Plopper will catch them in all three stages of the spawn,” he says. Topwater fishing excels for post-spawn fish, but Monroe feels the noise and commotion of the Whopper Plopper make it an excellent bait to use when fishing for bedding fish he cannot see.
Ish plans to target pilings, brush piles and rip rap in search of the winning bass. “With that bait you can cover water and you can throw it just about anywhere and just cast it and reel it back,” he says. The simple retrieve is what works best for this topwater bait and it has a knack for drawing strikes.
There are three sizes of the bait, but as mentioned earlier, Monroe is not interested in small fish. He will be relying on the 130 and 190 size of the baits in an attempt to win the Classic. Three of his favorite colors are I Know It, Loon and Powder and he says these should work well anywhere in the country and any time of year. His setup is a 7’4” composite rod, a Daiwa Tatula Elite Brent Ehrler Signature Series cranking rod. He spools up a Daiwa SV 105HS 7.2:1 reel with 50-pound Maxima braid.
Bling Spinnerbait at the Bassmaster Classic
The spinnerbait is a classic spring bait and it has been somewhat forgotten in recent years. It works well when covering water in search of shallow bass and Monroe plans to use his own River2Sea Ish Monroe Bling Spinnerbait Double Willow at Conroe.
He uses the same Tatula rod that he uses for the Whopper Plopper but will use a slower reel, a 6.2:1 version. He also switches to monofilament line for squarebill fishing and opts for 18-pound Maxima Ultragreen. “The mono helps when you are bumping into things with a spinnerbait and it rolls over cover much better. Plus, you can set the hook harder with that little bit of stretch,” he believes.
Biggie Squarebill at the Bassmaster Classic
The squarebill crankbait is a bait built for shallow fishing and Monroe plans to use it extensively at Lake Conroe like he does at all spring venues. “Its really designed for this time of year and works well anytime the bass are up shallow. If you are fishing deep in the spring, you are fishing to lose,” he says.
His bait of choice is of his own design, a River2Sea Ish Monroe Biggie squarebill. Again, he will use the same Tatula cranking rod and will instead spool his reel with 12 or 15-pound Maxima fluorocarbon.
S-Waver 200 at the Bassmaster Classic
Another big fish technique may come in to play at the Bassmaster Classic according to Monroe. Throwing a glide bait is known for enticing strikes from big bass. “Its another way to fish that will catch them in all phases of the spawn,” he says.
Monroe feels that the bait’s size and action are more important than color because the technique is so visual. “It can be a bunch of different colors and still get them to bite, but that slow, steady retrieve is what draws them to it,” he says. He added that there are many different retrieve styles and tricks to get the bait to work in the famous “s” action, but slow and steady is what he prefers when looking for giant bass.
He’ll rig up the S-Waver on a new rod he helped design, an 8-foot Daiwa Tatula Elite Ish Monroe Signature Series rod with a 6.3:1 Daiwa Tatula. His line of choice is 20-pound Maxima monofilament. “The mono is key for this bait and the S-Waver works much better with it compared to braid and fluorocarbon. The stretch and less sensitivity (compared to braid and fluorocarbon) also helps you hook more and lose less when they come up and grab it really quick,” he says.
With the bass at Lake Conroe likely in all stages of the spawn, shallow fishing will most likely dominate the event. This fits in to Monroe’s strengths as a shallow-water power-fisherman. If the conditions line up, his approach may lead him to the win.