Just thought I would share a full report (and some pics) from the Toyota Bass Classic Pro/Am yesterday. As you guys know, we have a few pros in town for the tournament on Ray Roberts this weekend, and to kick things off, Toyota and BPS put on a Pro/Am contest on Lake Ray Hubbard (Thursday).
I was fortunate enough to fish the Pro/Am yesterday with a few Bass Pro Shops folks (Fishing Manager of the Grapevine BPS location and Ish Monroe) and we really had a great time, despite the heavy rain. We started off in the restaurant at the Garland BPS location early in the morning, and walking into this place was surreal. To give you an idea, the first thing I saw was KVD, Howell, and Evers having a casual conversation over coffee and breakfast. The tournament this weekend consists of only the top 38 qualifiers, so it was really cool to be in a small room with all of these heroes of mine.
After checking in I learned that we had been paired with Ish Monroe, which was great because I have always been a big fan (and it doesn't hurt that he is a fellow Bass Pro guy). We made our way to our assigned tables to find Ish waiting, and he was quick to make a few jokes about the horrible downpour outside. We were delayed for more than an hour due to some lightning in the area, but as soon as we were cleared, we hit the water hard.
The Pro/Am platform, really, is a "for fun" event. We were only scheduled to fish for 4 hours, making it a pretty short tournament comparatively. With the delays, we only had a few hours to get things done.
Did we get things done? Well, yes and no. Ish caught a monster Drum and my partner was completely hammering the Sand Bass. Oddly enough, he was catching these sandies in isolated cover with a spinnerbait. They weren't grouped at all (schooled like they normally are) and I have to say, I haven't seen that too many times in my life. I stayed in the back of the boat and pretty much threw a rattle trap the entire time.
For only 2 hours of work, we put a pretty good number of largemouth on the hook. Most of them weren't big enough to put in the bucket, but at least we didn't zero out. About 1/4 of the field didn't bring anything long enough to weigh, and with the heavy north wind and constant heavy rain, the numbers weren't too amazing.
Rojas, on the other hand, brought in the big fish of the day, an 8 pounder. In true pro fashion, he didn't say if he caught it or if his partner caught it, and he didn't say what they caught it on either.
Clausen's team won with 16 pounds. The pros were only allowed to add 2 fish to the limit, and I'm not sure who his parter was, but he must have put forth a decent effort: a 3 pound average, on a tough day, with the best anglers on the face of the planet.
Fishing with the "Ish" was awesome. Monroe was a total gentleman and the only regret I have was not capturing more images of us together. It was raining like crazy outside, and needless to say, it was difficult to pull out our phones and cameras. We were truly blessed and thankful to be on the boat with Mr. Monroe, and man, we had a damn good time sharing some Texas water with him.
A few things I learned while fishing with Ish Monroe:
1. His feet never get cold. He wears flips flops in the rain, sleet, hail, or snow.
2. He has a super secret bait that he uses. He swore us to secrecy (sorry guys). He had some giant bites on this one, and like all of us, he spends a good 15 minutes "mourning" when that good fish doesn't buckle up.
3. Ish considers himself a "saltwater" angler that fishes for "bass" for a living.
4. He uses the weather.com app on his phone. Like most of us, he uses a simple weather app and proclaims that "it doesn't really matter because the weather people are always wrong."
5. We beat the bank/riprap the entire time with square bills, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, and rattle traps (and a secret bait). Professional anglers don't always have some amazing, special secret. Sometimes they just go fishing, and we caught some fish together.
On a last and side note, I am a kayak angler, and it was really cool to see a kayak on top of Iaconelli's rig. The guy has enough weight to pull, but I was really excited to see him carrying an extra flag for the sport of Bass Fishing.