SYRACUSE, N.Y. — California pro Ish Monroe is preparing to travel to a fishery that plays to his strengths. After pre-fishing the Red River for a mid-August tournament, he’ll turn his rig north for Oneida Lake and the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open in Syracuse, N.Y.,Aug. 1-3.
“It’s going to be a great tournament, as usual,” said Monroe, who won a Northern Open on Oneida in 2011. “Oneida has a ton of fish, both smallmouth and largemouth. You can fish for both and try a lot of different things. As small as the lake is, it ‘fishes big,’ because you can catch bass both deep and shallow. You can use a drop shot, a frog, a spinnerbait, a Chatterbait, a Fluke … An angler can fish to his strengths and have an opportunity of winning.”
A Bassmaster Elite Series pro, Monroe is known for his expertise with frogs, and Oneida is a lake where the bass are equally partial to the bait. He said there’s a lot of grass in the fishery this year, just as there was when he fished the eighth and final stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour last year in Syracuse. That cover makes his go-to bait a natural choice.
“I live with a frog in my hand,” said Monroe, an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “That’s one thing that never leaves my boat. I can be fishing Erie in December, and I’m still going to throw a frog.”
With a strong Elite Series season drawing to a close, Monroe is sitting in seventh place in Toyota Angler of the Year points and should easily claim a spot in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville, Ala., next February. Since he didn’t fish the first Northern Open, he can’t claim the invitation that goes to the winner of an Open who fishes all three events in a division. Instead, he’s fishing Oneida to keep his mind in the game.
“For me, the Classic berth is not an option, but I like to use the Opens to keep me fresh,” said Monroe, who has netted well over a million dollars in B.A.S.S. earnings. “B.A.S.S. puts on a great event, so why not fish it?”
When the tournament kicks off Aug. 1, Monroe knows what weather pattern he’d like to see on the fishery.
“Wind is one of the big factors, because the lake is a big open bowl,” he said. “It’s tough to navigate because of the many unmarked rockpiles that exist offshore. I don’t want to see anybody get injured. I would like to see a little rain and overcast conditions. In Bassmaster Elite tournaments and Opens on this lake, only one limit has weighed over 20 pounds and one right at 20, and both of those were in overcast conditions.”
Other Bassmaster Elite Series anglers competing in this year’s Open include Kurt Dove, Boyd Duckett, Kevin Hawk, James Niggemeyer, Randy Howell, Timmy Horton, Mike Iaconelli, Jared Miller, Brandon Palaniuk, Chip Porche, Casey Scanlon, Fletcher Shryock, and Chris Zaldain.
Boats will launch daily at 5:45 a.m. ET from Oneida Shores Park (9400 Bartell Road, Brewerton, NY 13029). Weigh-ins on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 will be held at 2 p.m. ET at the same location at Oneida Shores Park. The final day weigh in will be held at 3:15 p.m. ET at Bass Pro Shops (1579 Clark St. Rd., Auburn NY 13022).