Flashback to June, 18, 2017, as reported on boblamboutdoors.com.
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 boblamboutdoors.com.
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.