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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. 

 

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