MANY, La. -- Ish Monroe has his mojo workin' -- finally.
After a string of poor performances to start the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series season -- and a run of what he calls bad mojo for the past two and a half years -- Monroe appears to be turning it around this week in Louisiana. Monroe squeaked into Sunday's final round in the 12th and last qualifying spot.
Monroe caught 15 pounds, 9 ounces, Saturday, pushing his three-day total to 46-4. His appearance in Sunday's final marks his first Elite Series Top 12 since the Blue Ridge Brawl on Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake a year ago.
"I'm finally figuring things out," Monroe said. "I'm getting things rolling again."
Monroe's last top 12 prior to Smith Mountain last year was a 2008 event on Lake Murray in South Carolina. But despite Monroe's Smith Mountain success last year, he insists he's been in a sort of fishing funk for the past couple of seasons. This year's Elite Series certainly hasn't been kind, with Monroe finishing 70th, 48th and 89th in the series' first three tournaments.
"It really goes back about 2 ½ years," Monroe said. "I call it mojo, and I've had bad mojo for the past 2 ½ years. I've been breaking fish off, losing fish. I finally got this breaking-fish-off thing beat."
Monroe showed out on Day Two with a nearly 11-pound behemoth that he caught in the day's waning moments, helping him overcome a pedestrian start on Day One, when he weighed less than 12 pounds and finished near the bottom of the standings.
"That let me know I'm fishing right," Monroe said.
Monroe said it's been a struggle to overcome his tournament trials over the past two seasons. In much the same way that good performances tend to lead to more success, he said poor performances lead to more failures.
"Your head just gets all messed up," he said. "You get in a bad funk and your head starts to doubt your abilities."
In another sign that his mojo may be turning around, Monroe put together his Day Three stringer in a location that he hadn't fished before Saturday.
"I didn't catch a fish until 12:30 p.m. (Day Two)," he said. "And I didn't catch a fish until 10 a.m. (on Day Three). But I stayed with it and made this cut. I think my mojo is turning around."
Monroe trails leader Dean Rojas by a little more than 11 pounds, which might seem an insurmountable lead to anyone other than a guy who weighed a nearly 11-pound fish already in this tournament.
"All I can do is go up from here," Monroe said. "I'm just going to go out and try to keep the mojo going."