LAGRANGE, Ga. – Ish Monroe came off the stage after blowing his Day Four lead and finishing third in the Pride of Georgia.
If there was ever a situation for disappointment and anger, that was the moment. His spot dried up on him when he needed it most. Instead, Monroe was doing something that had been missing from his game for a couple years, smiling.
“Today just wasn’t my day,” Monroe said. “Steve Kennedy is an awesome fisherman and it was his turn. Hopefully Murray will be my turn.”
Monroe won two events in a banner year on the Elite Series in 2006, making a name for himself both on tour and television with a show called “Yo Ish.” But since then, it has been a struggle. He slowly fell down the Elite Series standings and missed the Classic in both 2010 and 2011.
“I had been putting too much emphasis on how serious it is and the business side of things and forgot what it’s all about,” he said. “I spent some time in the off-season, taking some kids fishing and going out to enjoy it.”
But even with a new attitude, Monroe’s 2011 season started out looking a lot like 2009 and 2010 – not good. Then, with time running out and another missed cut looming, Monroe caught a fish that changed everything. (Read more about that here)
The momentum of that bass carried through to West Point Lake and Monroe said he has no reason to think he won’t catch them on Lake Murray.
“Pretty much having fun has been the key to the turn around,” he said. “It was the one thing I haven’t been doing. I just haven’t been stressed about it.
“I get to go out on the water every single day – what else is there? That’s why I’m fishing so much. Everybody asks why I’m fishing FLW, BASS and PAA. I’m doing it all because I want to go fishing every day because you never know when it is going to end.”
Weighing in a few places ahead of Monroe, Jared Lintner is singing the same “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” tune for his comeback season.
Lintner followed up a nice rookie season in 2006 with an incredible season in 2007. But like Monroe, his fortune quickly started to shift toward the start of the 2008 season and he started missing cuts. He hasn’t fished a Classic since 2008 (a birth earned from his 2007 season), but currently sits in 12th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. “It’s just one of those deals – I’m just going fishing,” Lintner said. “Last year and the year before I was putting a ton of pressure on myself – nobody else was. I’d get so upset when things didn’t go right and it’s like beating your head up against a wall, it’s stupid.
“So, I just decided that if I couldn’t have fun doing this then I wasn’t going to do it. I’ll just stay at home and have fun at home.”
With three events left in 2011, Lintner looks like a lock for at least the Classic, maybe even All-Star week. Monroe currently sits outside the Classic cut, but he said he’s more focused on what’s coming up this week.
“I like the way Murray is setting up,” he said. “It suits my style and I think I’ll do well.”