AUBURN, N.Y. -- Ish Monroe had a ball on Oneida Lake for the third straight day as he went wire-to-wire for the win of the final 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open.
Monroe rode a hot frog bite and backed it up with a prototype flipping bait to sack 51-2, more than two pounds ahead of runner-up Michael Simonton.
“I tell you what, this feels awesome. I’ve won on all the (B.A.S.S.) levels; an Elite Series event, Federation-level event and now that I’ve won an Open it feels really good,” he said as he clutched his trophy.
For his win, Monroe earned a bass boat and motor as well as a handsome paycheck of more than $9,000. The total package is worth north of $54,000. He’s not concerned about not picking up the 2012 Bassmaster Classic berth because he qualified through the Bassmaster Elite Series. He would have double qualified if he had fished all three events, the prerequisite for earning the Opens berth. He was fishing Oneida for pride and most importantly, fun.
“The thing that carried me through this week and the whole season — has been the fact that I’ve had fun,” he said. “That’s been my focus throughout the Elites and into these Opens, and it’s worked out really well. I’m having a blast!”
Monroe relied on two baits and several areas. He threw a Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog (three different models: white, black and clear) across the top of matted grass along the bank, and when the wind blew, he punched through the grass with a heavy weight and a black and blue flipping bait. The key with the flipping bait was the River2Sea specialty flipping weight. It sports a matte black finish. Monroe reasons that lighter-colored weights give off too much flash under the dark mats and spook fish.
Michael Simonton made a hard charge at Monroe, but Monroe’s 4-pound cushion proved too much for Simonton’s 16-9 stringer and 48-12 total. Simonton, a Fremont, Ohio, native earned $13,800 for his runner-up finish.
In third place, earning $11,500, is John Pelletier of Nassau, N.Y. He tallied 45-7 over three days. In fourth is Elite Series pro Pat Golden of High Point, N.C., who earned $9,200 for his three-day catch of 45-7. Rounding out the top five is Elite Series pro Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., who won $8,280 for his total of 44-5.
On the co-angler side, Kevin Haley of Syracuse, N.Y., took home a brand new Skeeter bass boat with Yamaha outboard for his three-day catch of 26-8. Haley relied on a pair of baits, a Bass Pro Shops XPS walking topwater bait and a 3-inch Strike King Shadalicious swimbait. Five of his nine keepers fell for the topwater, the other four ate the swimbait. He gives much credit to his pros, all three of whom put Haley on solid fish each day.
In second place is Kevin Phelps of Allentown, Pa., with 25-12; in third place is Anthony Savino of Marlboro, N.Y., with 24-13; in fourth place is Michael Rinaldi of North Haledon, N.J., with 24-11; and in fifth place is Aaron Anders of Boston, Ontario, Canada.