La Crosse's Monsoor captures first FLW Tour Qualifier

Tom Monsoor reeled in his first FLW Tour professional bass tournament title on Sunday and it was a whopper as in $100,200.
The La Crosse native won the FLW Tour Qualifier presented by Costa Sunglasses on the Potomac River in Marbury, MD, by the slimmest of margins. Monsoor’s winning weight of 66-11 bested tour rookie Chad Warren of Sand Springs, OK, by a mere 5 ounces.
"They said I need 14-11 to win the title,"Monsoor said early this morning. When I saw 15 flash on the screen, I flipped. Man, am I every happy."
Monsoor led the 165 pro angler starting field on Thursday when he cracked 19-6 for second place. He moved into first place on Friday with 16-14. Monsoor's retained the lead by 2 ounces after Saturday's semifinal round with a three-day total 51-9.
Sunday was the longest day of his 15-year FLW career, but it was well worth it.
"I used my swim jigs, especially the black-and-blue," Monsoor said, in an exclusive interview with early today.
He also tried a Yamamoto Swim Senko and a Yamamoto Senko the final two days, but he never weighed in a fish on either.
"I used some other stuff, but I didn't catch any keepers," he said. "I also caught some catfish and perch, but my swim jigs worked the best."
Monsoor said he caught another quick limit early Sunday, but with high winds causing significant waves on the main river, Monsoor’s only option was heading back to Quantico for one last attempt
“At around 1:30, I caught two keepers - bang, bang," he said, reliving the moments for the umpteenth time to the media.
One of those was close to 4 pounds and one around 3 pounds, according to the Greater La Crosse Area's top pro angler. After culling two smaller fish, Monsoor was just over the 15-pound mark, just enough to nip Warren.
Monsoor has fished the tour since 2002, yet never won an event. The closest he came was in 2004 when he finished second at the Atchafalaya Basin.
"During Sunday's weigh-in, Monsoor said he figured he would maybe finish third or fourth.
"But I was hoping for second or third," he said, laughing.
However, he'll take the $100,200 and first place. It would have been $125,000 because Ranger donates that much to each tournament, he said. Anglers must be piloting Ranger boats no more than 4 years old. Unfortunately, Monsoor's Ranger boat is 6 years old.
"That's OK. I'm happy," he said, laughing again. "This is by far the biggest victory of my life."
Monsoor admits it has been an experience of a lifetime, but it continued into Sunday night and then again early Monday morning.
"I had over 70 calls, and I don't know how many TV and radio interviews. I finally shut off my phone at 9 o'clock and went to bed," he said. "Then I had to get up at 5 o'clock this morning for a film shoot."
Monsoor, one of the most popular pros on the granddaddy of all bass fishing tournaments in the world, also had to drive to a bait shop before the filming crew showed up.
"I gave away all my lures to some kids and I didn't have any left," he said. "Unreal!"
He was leaving for La Crosse by 10 a.m., on Monday, hoping to return home sometime Tuesday.
"I'm going home and play with my dog," he said. "This is a trophy I didn't have. That's all that changed. Nothing else has changed about me. Nothing else... never will."  
1. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 66-11 (20) – $100,200
2. Chad Warren – Sand Springs, Okla. – 66-6 (20) – $30,100
3. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ontario – 65-8 (20) – $25,000
4. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 64-11 (20) – $20,000
5. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 64-3 (20) – $19,000
6. Brandon McMillian – Clewiston, Fla. – 63-2 (20) – $18,000
7. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas – 59-8 (20) – $17,000
8. Mike Surman – Boca Raton, Fla. – 59-1 (20) – $16,000
9. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 57-11 (20) – $15,000
10. Andy Young – Mound, Minn. – 52-8 (17) – $14,000


Monsoor retains slim lead entering final day of FLW Tour Qualifier

Tom Monsoor could be headed for the biggest payday of his life.
The La Crosse native has a tiny 2-ounce lead after the third round of the FLW Tour Qualifier presented by Costa Sunglasses on the Potomac River on Saturday.
Monsoor was in second place in the 161-angler field after Day 1. He took the lead on Friday and kept it on Saturday despite his lightest bag of the week. Yet, the 68-year-old Monsoor continues to top the leaderboard.
Saturday's semifinal field was cut to the top 20. Sunday's field is reserved for the elite 10 and Monsoor is right there at the top of the totem pole.
Collecting 15 pounds, 5 ounces on Saturday, Monsoor’s total is 51-9, just two ounces more than Brandon McMillan and 12 ounces more than Chad Warren. Monsoor’s weights have fallen each day, and McMillan has weighed two straight bags over 19 pounds.
"My second best spot was dead today," Monsoor said during his weigh-in on FLW Tour live internet video. "Brandon is going up and everyone else is going down, but anytime I get to fish four days, I'm a happy camper."
Monsoor will certainly be camping in his hotel room one more night in Marbury, MD, but who knows how much sleep he will get realizing a first-place, $125,000 paycheck could be awaiting him late Sunday.
"Oh yeah, I'll sleep," Monsoor said in an exclusive interview with early Saturday evening. "But, right now I have to get my boat fixed."
In between his interview and answering questions from a friend who was trying to find out what problems there were with his battery and livewell, Monsoor had little time.
"Tomorrow's the big day for sure, but I have to get this boat fixed first," he said.
"Yes, I caught a limit at my first spot from 6:30 to 8:30 this morning. Then I went to my second spot at 9 and that was dead," Monsoor added. "I got two good ones, but the spot wasn't as good as it has been."
Monsoor caught all of his fish on his patented swim jog.
"I have no idea what's going to happen at all on Sunday, absolutely none at all," he said. "Sorry, but I have to run."

1. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 51-9 (15)
2. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 51-7 (15)
3. Chad Warren – Sand Springs, Okla. – 50-13 (15)
4. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ont. – 49-13 (15)
5. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas – 48-15 (15)
6. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 48-2 (15)
7. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 48-1 (15)
8. Andy Young – Mound, Minn. – 47-8 (15)
9. Brandon Cobb – Greenwood, S.C. – 47-2 (15)
10. Mike Surman – Boca Raton, Fla. – 47-2 (15)


Take a Kid Fishing Weekend begins June 9

During Take a Kid Fishing Weekend Friday, June 9, to Sunday, June 11, anglers in Minnesota can fish without licenses if they take children ages 15 or younger fishing, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“We encourage adults to get out on the water and introduce a new generation to the fun of fishing," said Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor. “Teaching a kid to fish can be as easy as rounding up some basic equipment and casting a line, and we have lots of helpful information on the DNR website for learning about fishing.”
In Minnesota, children ages 15 and younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year. Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is a way for adults and kids to fish together without the step of buying an adult license.
Minnesota has a strong fishing tradition, but the overall percentage of people who fish is declining mainly due to a smaller percentage of anglers in their 20s, 30s and early 40s.
“Millennials and young adults are interested in the outdoors, and fishing can be a great way to further that interest,” Ledermann said. “Fishing is a way to relax and unwind that doesn’t have to break the bank. It takes you to some incredibly scenic spots on Minnesota's lakes and rivers where you can get away from the everyday noise.”
The DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend page at includes links to a beginner’s guide to fishing. DNR’s Fish Minnesota page includes regulations and locations of easy-to-access fishing piers and shorefishing areas, and information about fishing in Minnesota state parks.
Minnesota state parks are a great place to spend Take a Kid Fishing Weekend. Fishing gear is available to borrow at state parks and the DNR’s I Can Fish! program teaches the basics of fishing and runs throughout the summer at state parks. Even when it’s not Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state parks without a fishing license if the body of water doesn’t require a trout stamp.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

La Crosse's Monsoor grabs 1st place in FLW Qualifier

Tom Monsoor has a simple reason why he is leading the FLW Tour Qualifier on the Potomac River in Marbury, MD.
With a possible $125,000 paycheck within in his grasp, the veteran La Crosse professional bass fisherman says the reason for success so far is, "I'm just catching fish in a tourney rather than in practice. I haven't made any changes. I'm just fishing."
Monsoor may downplay his first two days of competition, but he is not "just fishing." He's fishing really well.
Monsoor is known for two things - his patented swim jigs and river fishing after growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River. Both may finally be coming together for him after two days of the FLW Tour on the Potomac River presented by Costa Sunglasses.
He's fished the Potomac many times, but has had trouble figuring out the tides. However, tied haven't been a problem so far this week.
On Day 1, Monsoor thought it finally clicked, as he utilized a pattern he felt was tide dependent. Helping the matter was his boat position of 149, which allowed him to capitalize on both key feeding windows brought on by the tide changes in the morning and afternoon.
However, being in the first flight Friday, and with the tides backing up an hour, he knew he really only had the morning window. He made the most of it, cracking 16 pounds, 14 ounces to take over the lead with 36 pounds, 4 ounces. Robert Behrle of Hoover, AL, is in second place with 35-2.
“I had a limit by 8 a.m. on the first spot, and then I culled out four of them in the second spot,” Monsoor told FLW officials. “I was done fishing by noon and just went looking after that.”
It was a good thing Monsoor was done so early, as his batteries went dead and his livewell began leaking, forcing him to stop and refill his livewell any time he ran so much as a mile.
He got both problems fixed late Friday.
"Yup, I'm ready to go," he said from his hotel room Friday night.
The 156-pro field was cut to the top 20 for Saturday's round. Only the top 20 advance to Sunday's final round.
"We'll found out tomorrow," Monsoor said after exiting a late night FLW meeting for semifinalists. "I'm just taking it one day at a time and see what happens."
Monsoor has won almost $750,000 during a 14-year career on the FLW Tour. However, he has failed to cash in any qualifier this year. A six-figure payday on Sunday would certainly fill his wallet.
"I'm just a fisherman, he chuckled. "I've led FLW tourneys after Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, but never after Day 4. "We're not even close to that yet."


Minnesota DNR sees boatload of state record fish applications

Interest has ramped up this spring in the state record fish program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with five applications for four species including everything from shortnose gar, lake sturgeon, golden redhorse and the quillback carpsucker.  
“This is by far the wildest, craziest spring we’ve ever had. We’ve never had so many record submissions and so much interest in such a short span of time,” said Mike Kurre, state record fish program coordinator. “They’re are all impressive catches and show interest in the program is growing and that there are some huge fish out there in Minnesota.”
There are two kinds of Minnesota state records - one for catching and keeping the biggest fish in each species based on certified weight, and the other for the length of a caught and released muskellunge, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish.
A bump-up in applications for record fish shows interest in the state record fish program, but a bump in records tells little about an angler’s overall chances of catching a large fish.
Someone’s chances of catching a lunker depend on a variety of factors including the species and location. Anglers fishing for lake sturgeon, for example, now have better chances of catching large ones because of the recovery and restrictive harvest regulations have led to their numbers increasing.
On the level of individual fish, catch-and-release fishing often means large fish returned to the water can keep growing.
“Anglers are in some cases benefiting from good fisheries management decisions and environmental cleanup of past decades, especially when it comes to long-lived fish like sturgeon,” Kurre said. “In some cases, specific state record holders probably wouldn’t have the record without other anglers releasing that fish in the past.”  
Anglers also might be taking more of an interest in identifying and trying to catch obscure species – like golden redhorse or shortnose gar – and boosting their personal life-lists for species caught. Such was the goal in the case of one recent record.
“The newest record for the shortnose gar involved a cool story of a father and son who set out to fill out their life species list and were targeting some of the more obscure fish,” Kurre said. “They succeeded and not only are they up to 45 out of the recognized 62 state record fish on their list, they have a new state record with a shortnose gar.”
So far the record count this year stands at four: a 5-pound 4-ounce shortnose gar caught by Cayden Hutmacher; two caught and released lake sturgeon that were 70 inches long caught by Tim Deiman and Mark Minnick; and a 4-pound 7-ounce golden redhorse caught by Mathew Williams.
Social media even fueled some recent speculation that there would be two other candidates for flathead catfish records after photos surfaced of anglers who caught, photographed and released large catfish on the Minnesota River the same day on May 15, about 100 miles apart from each other. The fish may have ended up tied with the current 49-inch length record. However, one of the anglers didn’t have a witness and the DNR hasn’t received a record application for the other.
The largest catch-and-release record submitted for consideration this year came from the Minnesota-Canada border waters, a submission that stated it as a 72-inch lake sturgeon. Unfortunately, there was no photo of that fish on the ruler so it could not be certified as a record. There was also an application for a quillback carpsucker that turned out to be a bigmouth buffalo.
“Some of the potential records submitted for the catch-and-release category haven’t had a photo of the complete fish on a ruler,” Kurre said. “It’s understandable, since outside a cadre of top-level anglers, few go out fishing expecting to catch one of these huge fish. Or, in the other cases, solo anglers would have just needed to take someone else fishing with them.”
Kurre recommends anglers become familiar with the record-fish guidelines and be ready to take the required photos and go through the correct procedures for submitting the record – especially when equipped with the fishing tackle and on waters where they might catch record fish.
The DNR will in coming weeks announce new state records in news releases and online. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

La Crosse's Monsoor 2nd in FLW Tour Qualifier

It was only Day 1, but La Crosse veteran bass pro Tom Monsoor is only 5 ounces away from leading the FLW Tour Qualifier on the Potomac River in Marbury, MD on Thursday.
Clark Wendlandt, from Leander, TX, claimed the lead thanks to a healthy 19-pound, 11-ounce limit. Though his lead is a mere 5 ounces ahead of Tom Monsoor, Wendlandt has reinforced the notion that he’s in tune with this tidal system.
“I have fished the Potomac for a long time, since 1996,” Wendlandt said. “My first three tournaments here were terrible. I couldn’t catch a bass. Then I just figured out how to catch them here and it’s hard to describe but I get a warm, fuzzy feeling fishing out here. Not that I think I am going to catch them, but I feel very confident."
Monsoor also caught a five fish limit, but it weighed 19-6.
Monsoor, born and raised in La Crosse, has won almost $750,000 during a 14-year career on the FLW Tour. However, he has failed to cash in any qualifier this year.
The field is cut to the top 20 anglers after Friday's second round. Sunday's final round is reserved for only the top 10 anglers.

Muskie season opens Saturday in Minnesota

Anglers can begin fishing for muskellunge on Saturday, June 3, in Minnesota – a state well known as a muskie fishing destination, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
While committed muskie anglers might cast large lures all season and be happy with a small number of encounters with trophy fish, casual anglers may not be in-the-know about muskies in Minnesota.
To help set the stage, Chris Kavanaugh, northeast region fisheries manager, discussed some muskie basics.   
Q: Where did muskies come from?
A: Muskie are native to Minnesota waters, and they were present historically in many lakes and rivers, mainly in the north-central and northeast part of the state in waters connected to each other in the Mississippi River watershed. They were actually found in all the major watersheds in the state.
Q: What different kinds of muskies are present in Minnesota?
A: Presently, the fish we consider pure-strain muskies are descended from the fish that lived here historically, and are referred to as the Mississippi River or Leech Lake strain. We also have a small number of waters with smaller-growing native muskie from Shoepack Lake in what’s now Voyageurs National Park, although this strain has not been stocked since the 1980s. Finally, tiger muskies are hybrids of northern pike and muskie.
Q: Where in Minnesota can you fish for muskie now?
A: Some well-known muskie lakes include Leech, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Vermilion and Mille Lacs, and the St. Louis River estuary. Muskies are also found on many smaller lakes. Contact a local area fisheries office to ask about local muskie fishing opportunities, and learn about lakes to fish on the DNR LakeFinder at
In all, there are 99 waters managed for muskie and they’ve also been found in small numbers in another 50 waters. The 99 waters make up 21 percent of the total surface area of all the waters managed for fishing in the state – which means they’re here in very low density considering we have 5,500 fishing lakes and several large rivers.
Q: Does the DNR stock muskies?
A: Yes, of the 99 waters where we manage for muskie fishing, we stock pure-strain muskie in 50 waters, and tiger muskie in 11 waters in the Twin Cities metro area. Some waters are stocked every year. Others may be stocked every other year or less frequently. The number stocked in any given water varies from as few as 63 fingerlings to 4,000 fingerlings. In any given year, about 30,000 fingerlings are stocked across the state.
Q: How many people fish for muskie?
A: Our estimates tell us that about one in six Minnesota resident anglers fish for muskie at least once per year. The popularity and interest in muskie fishing seems to continue to grow.
Q: Can people eat muskies?
A: Yes, although the minimum size to keep a muskie on inland waters is 54 inches. On specific lakes in the metro area, the minimum size is 40 inches for tiger muskies. There is a strong catch-and-release ethic among muskie anglers, so fewer anglers choose to harvest these large fish compared with some other species. That’s one reason we included muskie in the catch-and-release length category of our state record fish program. The record length for a caught-and-released muskie is 56-7/8 inches from Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR