PHOTO: MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING/PHOENIX MOORE - Monroe was stoked to find out this afternoon that he earned a $500 bonus for being the Group A winner, but he’s also looking forward to being among the 40 competitors on Saturday in the Knockout Round.
“I’m super excited about it,” he said. “I’ve literally gotten four hours of sleep the whole week. I barely slept last night because I was so excited to go fishing. I’m just hoping I’m so tired today that I’ll just fall asleep and not wake up until late tomorrow.”
He said since he was in a comfortable position on the leaderboard, he devoted all of today to gearing up for the next round.
“I was going to watch the leaderboard and if guys got close to me, then I’d go hammer on my fish,” he said. “That didn’t happen and I rode by my spot multiple times and never saw anybody there, so I left it.”
That allowed him to test some theories and identify some new areas for the weekend.
“Any chance you have to go out and practice is good,” he said. “I never fished anything today that I practiced on.”
He caught a 4-pounder at his first stop, then picked off a 3-pounder an hour later, but he wasn’t satisfied despite those being his two biggest fish of the day.
“It was too slow,” he said. “I needed to be consistently catching fish, so I learned if you keep moving you’ll keep catching them. I must have burned 40 gallons of fuel running around looking at new stuff.”
Photo MLF: Monroe also settled into a comfort zone as the day progressed. He paired a spinnerbait pattern with a mat-punching strategy that seemed to get better as the sun got higher in the sky.
“It was an excellent day,” he said. “I had a nice little area with a lot of fish and just hammered on it. I just wish I’d have caught everything that bit because it would show people this is not a 1-pounder deal. I had seven over 3 (pounds) so it shows you can catch big ones.”
As the only other angler to crack the 40-mark, he knows he has a cushion to work with when he gets back on the water Thursday.
“I plan to go practice Thursday and that’s the great part about ScoreTracker because I’ll know what’s going on,” he said. “If guys start wailing on ‘em or if all of a sudden the cut line is 25 (pounds) and it’s early, then I’ll go hammer on my fish. If it’s still around 20, then I can try other things.”
Monroe caught progressively more fish and more weight through the three periods, but also lost a few that would’ve drawn him closer to Howell.
“In those mats, you have to hit them hard and sometimes you miss them,” he said.