Monsoor ready for FLW Tour opener in Florida

Flashback to June, 18, 2017, as reported on
Tom Monsoor reeled in his first FLW Tour professional bass tournament title on Sunday and it was a whopper as in $105,000.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.
Imagine that... 5 ounces, the weight of a deck of cards.
"They said I needed 14-11 to win the title," Monsoor said minutes after the biggest victory of his life. "When I saw 15 flash on the screen, I flipped. Man, am I ever happy."
Monsoor was among the 165 professional angler field when he cracked 19-6 for second place on opening day on June 15. He moved into first place the next day with 16-14. Monsoor retained the lead by 2 ounces after the semifinal round with a three-day total of 51-9.
Now, flash forward to Jan. 25, when Monsoor travels to Clewiston, FL, for the first of another seven 2018 FLW qualifiers and hopes of making it to the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup one more time.
Monsoor, who turns 69 on Jan. 28, is an icon in La Crosse area bass fishing circles. No, make that Wisconsin. No make that Midwest. No make that the United States.
He has survived three heart attacks and one open heart surgery, but the commercial fisherman by trade, keeps plugging along.
"I fish all day, from daylight to dark, just because I love it," he said with a big smile.
Monsoor, who competed in six previous Forrest Wood Cups, didn't make last year's grand finale, but finished the year on a high note in several La Crosse area events, winning the Walmart Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Super Regional ($8,000), the Freedom Fishing Partners Tournament for veterans, including the big bass trophy, two Bass World partner events with his girlfriend, Karen Savik, from Minneapolis, and one 3 Rivers Bass Tournament title.
Yet, the $105,000 FLW Qualifier that Monsoor won on the Potomac River in Marbury, MD, was by far the biggest of his career.
"I had a great finish in 2017, and I'm hoping the ride continues this year," he said in an exclusive interview with
Savik also fared well when Monsoor won the $105,000 first-prize check. Savik drove from Minneapolis to French Island to babysit Jigs, Monsoor's yellow labrador.
"I told Karen I'd give her $100 a day to babysit Jigs or she could take 10 percent of my winnings. She came out really well," said Monsoor, with another big smile. "She said she was praying the whole time."
Monsoor has won more than $806,000 in 16 years on the FLW Tour, notwithstanding local and regional tournaments. Yet, La Crosse's king of bass fishing believes there's more ahead.
"My goal is to win another FLW Qualifier and make it to another FLW Cup," he said. "My other goal is to finish in the top 50 in all seven qualifiers. If I do, I'll make the cup."
Anglers reaching the top 50 each event earn $10,000. However, it won't be easygoing against 185 other pros each week.
"There used to be 150 pros each week, then it went to 165 the last couple of years. This year it's 186," Monsoor said. "It's the biggest circuit in the world and attracts anglers from Japan, Africa and Spain."
It's not cheap to compete on the FLW Tour either. Anglers must commit to all seven qualifying events for a total cost of $31,500 each year. That doesn't include mileage, food and lodging, besides wear and tear on boats, trailers and vehicles. Additional funds are needed for pre-fishing before each tournament. Anglers usually spend at least a couple of weeks prefishing before the qualifier.
"It's not cheap, but it's what I enjoy... fishing," Monsoor said.

Make the most of Free Fishing Weekend

MADISON, WI - Free Fishing Weekend, Jan. 20-21, gives newcomers of all ages a chance to try ice fishing without a license, and a Department of Natural Resources fish-loving couple passes on their tips for making that first trip fun for the whole family, particularly kids.
Pamela and Scott Toshner, a DNR lake and watershed protection specialist and a DNR fisheries biologist, respectively, are avid ice anglers and parents of twin girls. They started getting the girls involved in fishing when they were about 3 years old. The first couple of years were short trips and by 5 years old, the girls were already fairly seasoned ice anglers.
Here are the Toshners' tips for ice fishing fun with the whole family.

Getting ready for adventure
Go into the adventure with an open and patient mindset.
Make sure they're dressed for the weather. Let them go inside a vehicle, shack or house to warm up when they get cold.
We have had success starting out with tip-up fishing in spots that have good action. Northern pike are usually what we catch and make a great fish to start kids on. Try to get them involved in the whole process. For instance, take them to the bait shop to pick up minnows, snacks and refreshments. Let them help with scooping the slush out of holes and catching minnows out of the bait bucket.
Fishing with tip-ups is usually more successful than asking kids to sit on a bucket watching a hole. With tip ups, they don't have to sit in one place and watch for a bobber to go down. However, if you have a good action lake for panfish and either a warm winter day or an ice shack, jigging is fun as well.
Have other activities for them to do while waiting for a flag to go up. Our girls like ice skating, cross country skiing and sledding. They play tic-tac-toe in the snow and shuffle ice path mazes with their feet followed by a game of tag in the maze. Veer outside the path, and you're out! Bringing our dog along also provides them with some entertainment.
Bring food, snacks and beverages for them, but have a plan on how to take care of bathroom needs. A bucket and maybe a blanket to hold up to provide some privacy can work if you're fishing in a busy area.

When they catch a fish
Let them catch the fish. If more than one child is along, figure out a system of taking turns before the first flag goes up. We often flip a coin for who goes first. The other child's turn begins after the first has actually caught a fish and not just run to a flag to find no fish or after losing a fish.
Be ready for some tears when a fish is lost at the hole. It happens and is a bit of a life lesson. We personally try not to give too much instruction on how to land a fish, they figure it out pretty quickly.
Make a big deal about any fish they do catch - any size or any species. To a kid, a skinny 22-inch northern pike is a bigger fish than a nice chunky 19-inch walleye.
Have a camera or your phone along - it makes a kid proud to get his or her picture taken with a fish. Again, any size or species of fish will do. With today's smart phones you can also take video footage of the kids catching the fish.
We usually bring a fillet knife and cutting board along, which enables us to fillet the fish out on the ice. The kids love watching and always ask to cut the fish's stomach open to see what it has been eating.
Take it from the ice to the dinner table. The kids are proud to provide a meal for the family, so make sure they are involved in the process. (Quick tip: for northern pike up to about 26 inches in length we simply fillet the fish with the bones in it and put it through the meat grinder.... bones included and unnoticeable in the final product. We then add bread crumbs and seasoning, an egg or two and mix. Make some patties and fry them in a pan for a delicious dinner.)
Take the opportunity to teach them a bit about rules, fish and fish habitat. The questions of why we are fishing here and not there are the basis for them learning about fisheries habitat and ecology.
For example, we fish for northern pike in bays with aquatic plants because those are the habitats that allow pike to feed and seek cover. Without the aquatic plant habitat the fish may not be there for us to catch. This is also a good opportunity to talk a bit about the rules we follow to make sure there are fish for them in the future.
This one may be the hardest for hard core adult ice anglers. Be ready to leave when the kids are no longer having fun. Sometimes the bite isn't good or even if it is they just get tired of it. Especially for younger kids, two hours is plenty of time on the ice. Although "prime time" may be coming up, if the kids aren't having fun, they are less likely to want to go again.
Let them bring their friends. Not only will this make for more fun when the fish aren't biting, but you may introduce someone to the sport who otherwise might not get the opportunity.
Wisconsin residents and visitors can fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend, Jan. 20-21. Most waters of the state are included, except for spring trout ponds. All other inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River are open. All other regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force.
The DNR has ice fishing equipment available for loan at 22 of our 56 tackle loaner sites. And 16 sites have fly fishing gear in case you want to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend to give the early catch and release trout season a try.
Free ice fishing clinics are a great way to get introduced to ice fishing, so check out DNR's listing of events by searching the DNR website for "Free Fishing Weekend."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Fishing line recycling not just a summer thing

Twenty pounds of fishing line. That’s what has been recycled through the use of the strange looking PVC tubes located at boat landings and other fishing access locations between Trempealeau, WI and Wabasha, MN.
The Friends of the Refuge Headwaters (Friends) wanted to do something to help clean up the river and protect wildlife.
In 2009, they decided to begin a fishing line recycling program and with the help of local Boy Scouts, constructed 10 recycling containers or tubes which were installed at major boat landings in the Winona area. Interest grew and anglers requested that the tubes be available at other fishing locations. Today, there are over 30 of them along the 40-mile stretch of Mississippi River that is the Winona District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
The tubes are checked, repaired and emptied two or three times a year by Friends members. The fishing line is then sent to the Berkley Conservation Institute in Spirit Lake, IA, where it is combined with other post-consumer plastics and recycled into artificial underwater habitat structures called Berkley FishHab. Since 2009, the Friends have sent in just under 20 pounds of line! The Berkley Company reports that since 1990, they have received and recycled over 9 million miles of fishing line from across the country.
Friends members John Lyons and Pete Koutsky, both of Winona, have been checking the containers for the past couple of years. Both men remember the days when people just threw their used or broken fishing line in the water.
“We were really surprised to see how useful the tubes were,” said John Lyons, “it’s incredible the difference we see between the locations, some are jammed full of line and some, unfortunately, get more trash.”
When the men make their rounds they sort the fishing line from the trash and other recyclable items.
Both men enjoy the time they spend driving around the refuge checking the tubes. Each stop brings the surprise of seeing what’s inside because it’s never just line. It's sinkers, jigs, leaders and bobbers along with the occasional aluminum can or glass bottle. Then they both fondly remember the time they found a $15 “tip” in one of the containers.
“We really appreciate that people use the tubes, and hope that more anglers get into the habit of discarding their line in them” said Pete Koutsky “it really makes a difference on the river.”
Discarded fishing line is not biodegradable, extremely strong and can impact a wide variety of wildlife that call the refuge home. Line often finds its way to the shore where it entangles turtles, frogs, birds (including bald eagles) and small mammals causing amputations and even death.
Animals will inadvertently swallow the line where it can become entangled in their stomach preventing the ingestion of food which ultimately leads to starvation. People and pets are also injured by the hooks that often remain on the ends of the line, getting caught in bare feet and paws. Discarded line can also get caught in propellers and damage boat motors.
Anglers are reminded that recycling isn’t just a summertime sport “Ice anglers should use the tubes to recycle their line too” said Lyons. "Leaving broken line on the ice or stuffing it down the hole is the wrong thing to do.”
The Friends plan on adding six fishing line recycling tubes next spring, mainly around Buffalo City, WI, which will bring the total to 39 tubes.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blair Sportsmen's Club Ice Fishing Contest Jan. 13

BLAIR, WI - Catch a tagged fish and pocket $500.
It's as simple as that... well, not really.
Despite brisk winter cold, the annual Blair Sportsmen's Ice Fishing Contest is set for Saturday, Jan. 13, on Lake Henry in Blair, WI.
The derby runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
There will be loads of fishing prizes for categories including trout, crappie, perch, bluegill/sunfish, northern pike and bass.
There is also drawing prizes and you don't need to be present.
Other activities are scheduled in the William Schroeder Memorial Park Shelter.

2018 Kid's Ice Fishing Event scheduled Feb. 3

WINONA, MN - The annual Kid’s Ice Fishing Event, co-sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Refuge Headwaters, is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10 a.m.-noon at the McNally Boat Landing on Prairie Island Drive, Winona, MN.
Children ages 6 through 13 and their families are invited to join in this free event. Children will be paired with experienced ice anglers who will assist them with a hands-on ice fishing experience.
Bait, tackle and fishing rods will be available, however, participants are encouraged to bring their own ice fishing supplies if they have them and a bucket or folding chair to sit on while watching their bobber. Children should also be dressed appropriately for ice fishing - hats, mittens, snow pants, boots and winter coats. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided in a heated tent.
All children must be registered for the event by a parent or guardian. A registration station will be available at the McNally Boat Landing. If the event is canceled due to weather or unsafe ice conditions, an announcement will be made on the Winona Radio group stations in the morning.
The McNally Boat Landing is located on Prairie Island Road, between Prairie Island Campground and the Minnesota City Boat Club (GPS coordinates: Easting 605183, Northing 4881470). Parking is available at the spillway parking lot located between the campground and landing. A shuttle will be provided from the parking area to the fishing location. The McNally Boat Landing will be closed to public entry during this event.
For additional information, contact Ed Lagace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (507) 494-6236 or visit the refuge website at  

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

More than 20 DNR sites offer loaner ice fishing equipment

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's winter Free Fishing Weekend is set for Jan. 20-21, and free loaner equipment and ice fishing clinics make it a great time for open water anglers to discover the fun of ice fishing or to introduce family and friends to this hard-water recreation.
Fishing is free for Wisconsin residents and visitors alike on these days. No fishing license or Great Lakes salmon stamp or Inland Trout Stamp is needed to fish all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and other boundary waters. Spring trout ponds are not open, however. All other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish anglers can keep, and any seasons when anglers must release certain fish species.
"Free Fishing Weekend is a great way to get outside during the winter and have fun with family and friends," said Theresa Stabo, Department of Natural Resources R 3 coordinator, who is working on angling recruitment, retention and reactivation.
It's also a chance for anglers to try the early catch-and-release trout season for free. That season opened Jan. 6 and normally requires anglers to have a fishing license and an inland trout stamp to join in.
Stabo says that people interested in ice fishing or trying the early catch-and-release trout season shouldn't let a lack of equipment stop them. More than 20 DNR tackle loaner sites have ice fishing gear for loan that groups and individuals can use. Ice augurs are not available through the DNR, but fellow anglers are usually willing to drill a hole in the ice for newcomers or they can use an abandoned ice fishing hole, she says.
So far, the DNR is aware of free fishing clinics during Free Fishing Weekend at these locations: Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo; Straight Lake State Park in Polk County; Mauthe Lake State Recreation Area in Fond du Lac County; Perch Lake County Park and Maple Lake Public Beach in Oneida County; Glen Lock in Chippewa Falls; Brittingham Park in Madison and Fireman's Park in Marshall.
More information on the free fishing clinics, on how and where to borrow ice fishing equipment from DNR offices and parks, and on the weekend itself can be found on DNR's Free Fishing Weekend webpage. Go to and search "Free Fishing Weekend."
Fishing groups, local chambers of commerce, outing organizations, recreation departments and others hosting their own Free Fishing Weekend events can fill out an electronic form with their event details so the DNR can help publicize events that are open to the public.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Early catch-and-release trout season opens Jan. 6

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's early catch-and-release trout season opens Jan. 6 on hundreds of waters statewide and provides another fishing opportunity to help anglers beat cabin fever.
"The long season offers anglers a great opportunity to try the early trout season if you haven't before," said Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.
The season is open on all classified trout streams in 46 counties and there is at least one stream open in 18 other counties. All streams in Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Menominee, Outagamie and Winnebago counties are closed.
The season opens at 5 a.m. on Jan. 6 and runs until midnight May 4. All anglers are not required to use barbless hooks, but artificial lures and flies are still required. All fish caught must be immediately released. The bag limit is zero.
Anglers who fish the early catch-and-release season need an inland trout stamp as well as a valid Wisconsin fishing license. The 2017-2018 fishing license and stamp are good through March 31. Anglers fishing after March 31 will need to buy a 2018-2019 license to fish the early season in April and May.
Wisconsin has more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, including more than 5,300 miles of Class 1 trout streams in Wisconsin. These high quality trout waters have sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout and require no stocking. Another 40 percent of the waters are Class 2 waters that may have some natural reproduction, but require stocking to maintain a desirable sport fishery.
New online maps and interactive maps make all of the trout waters easier to find and provide other information to increase anglers' success, Griffin said. To find the maps, search the DNR website for keyword "trout."
Anglers fishing the early trout season should take many of the same kind of precautions that ice anglers do, including knowing local conditions, fishing with another person, and carrying a cell phone. Find more winter fishing safety tips on ice safety page of the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR