By BassFan Staff

Ish Monroe didn't weigh the biggest fish on day 1 of the Okeechobee Bassmaster Elite Series in Florida that honor went to Kevin Short. But the smallest specimen on Monroe's five-fish stringer was in the same class as the largest, and his 34-05 haul staked him to a big early lead.

The Californian has an advantage of nearly 9 pounds over 2nd-place Davy Hite, who weighed 25-09. Then there was a drop of more than 3 pounds down to 3rd, where Nate Wellman resides with 22-03.

The Florida-bred Lane brothers rounded out the Top 5, with reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Chris weighing 21-15 and Bobby checking in with 21-03.



Here's a look at the current Top 12 (deficit margin from leader is indicated by red numbers in parentheses):

1. Ish Monroe: 34-05
2. Davy Hite: 25-09 (8-12)
3. Nate Wellman: 22-03 (12-02)
4. Chris Lane: 21-15 (12-06)
5. Bobby Lane: 21-03 (13-02)
6. Scott Rook: 20-15 (13-06)
7. Bradley Roy: 20-09 (13-12)
8. (tie) Skeet Reese: 19-06 (14-15)
8. (tie) Todd Faircloth: 19-06 (14-15)
10. Jeff Kriet: 19-05 (15-00)
11. Randy Howell: 18-10 (15-11)
12. Kyle Fox: 18-01 (16-04)

As anticipated, it was a blustery day on the big Lake and the overall weights weren't extremely impressive. Less than a quarter of the field (23 competitors) weighed 15 pounds or more and the 50th-place cutline is currently 12-01.

Monroe had no qualms about revealing the bait he caught his fish on he used a Missile Baits D Bomb produced by John Crews' new company.

"That was the biggest key," he said. "The good thing about it is it's so new that they don't have them in the stores down here yet, so I'm not worried about other guys getting them. By the time they get them shipped in from Tackle Warehouse, it'll be too late."

Tomorrow's weather forecast predicts partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 85 degrees and winds out of the southeast to 10 mph.

The field will be reduced to the Top 50 after the day-2 weigh-in, and then to the Top 12 for the final day. The winner will be determined Sunday by highest cumulative weight.

Monroe Mum on Area

> Day 1: 5, 34-05

Monroe's weight was his second-best ever as a pro, topped only by a 35-07 sack from Falcon. Although he freely divulged his bait, he was much more secretive about his location.

"It's a small area and there's a (local) tournament this weekend, and I want to keep as many people away from there as possible," he said. "There were a couple of locals in there moving around and cutting stuff up and bumping the reeds, and that just makes those fish tougher to catch."

On a positive note, he saw only a couple of fellow competitors and thinks he has lots of fish left.

"I don't think I came close to hurting my water at all today," he said. "I do have a backup plan, especially if the wind lays down. My second-biggest fish came out of muddy water, so I have confidence that they'll bite in the mud."

None of the fish he weighed was under 6 pounds. His biggest was 7-11 2 ounces lighter than the bruiser Short caught to take big-bass honors.

"I had some bites in there in practice and one or two were decent, but not like what I caught today. I really didn't catch very many little ones out of my first 10 bites, five of those were the right size.

"They came in little spurts. I caught two of my biggest ones 5 minutes apart and I had most of my weight by noon or 1:00. I caught the last good one right at the end from a different place."



B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Davy Hite got most of his weight from a place he found on a pre-practice trip in January.

2nd: Early Trip Paid off For Hite

> Day 1: 5, 25-09

At this stage of his career, Davy Hite isn't much for pre-practicing on lakes he's visited many times over the years. However, his historically poor track record in Florida and the fact that it'd been a decade or so since he'd seen the Big O prompted him to make a trip down here in January.

That excursion paid dividends today, as he caught most of his weight off a waypoint he'd marked 2 months ago.

"I was really kind of surprised," he said. "I'd caught some fish in practice on two of the days, but the second day I didn't do very well. You never really know what you can catch until you put your head down and really focus and work hard on the pattern you hopefully found in practice.

"On this lake right now you can get three to five big bites a day. I got three and I was fortunate that I caught all three of them."

His bag was topped by a 7 1/4-pounder.

"At 10:00 I had 9 pounds and I'd caught nine or 10 fish, and then I got into an area and started catching some better ones and upgrading some. Then real late in the day I stopped at a place on my way back and caught two good ones.

"I feel good about tomorrow, but it's all about getting two or three of those big ones in the boat."

3rd: Bed-Fish Boosted Wellman

> Day 1: 5, 22-03

Wellman's bag was highlighted by a 6 1/2-pounder that he caught off a bed, but he wasn't looking at her at the time he'd been looking for her, but hadn't seen her.

"I'd found that fish in practice and when I went in there and got to my waypoint, I couldn't see it," he said. "I put my Power-Poles down and flipped over to where I'd seen it before and I was actually looking at another bed, trying to see if there was a fish on it, when I felt the bite and my line started moving off.

"I set the hook and then finally got it close to the boat, then I had to get my shoulder all the way down into the lily pads to get it boated."

He was reluctant to reveal much about his pattern. He said he's making a 15- or 20-minute run and went through about 15 keepers.

"I can say that it's not a topwater deal and I'm not flipping, but I am power-fishing. I'm doing something I have a lot of confidence in and I've got other areas I haven't tapped into.

"I think I've got a good shot at catching another nice bag, but I've got to get the bites and I've got to execute on them. In this kind of vegetation, you can hang a 30-pound sack and not get any of them into the boat."

4th: Chris Lane Missed 3

> Day 1: 5, 21-15

Chris Lane said his strong sack could've been considerably heftier had he not missed three quality bites.

"The opportunities were there for me to have a really big bag, but I was very, very happy with my day," he said. "Yeah, I'm way behind (Monroe), but when you consider that there's 3 days left, it's really not that far. You can make that up on one fish here."

He boated about 10 or 12 fish, including a 7 1/2-pounder. He said the three key ones he missed were all 5 pounds or better.

He pitched a Gambler jig, a Gambler Ugly Otter and a Luck-E-Strike tube. Those last two baits are the same ones he used to win the Classic on Louisiana's Red River.

"It's so thick out there, and you can't go out thinking you're not going to miss fish with the wind and all that. But I learned a lot today and hopefully I'll have an even better day tomorrow."

5th: Short Day for Bobby Lane

> Day 1: 5, 21-03

Bobby Lane began the day fishing the west side of the lake, and then ran all the way to the south. He had a short day (he was in the first weigh-in flight) and all of that driving cost him some valuable fishing time, but he nonetheless scored a strong bag.

"I probably lost about 2 1/2 hours in run time, and when I was practicing I was putting in 7 or 8 hours down there in certain areas," he said. "But I caught two 7-pounders down there, and with a longer day tomorrow, maybe I can get three or four of those big ones. It's just a matter of them turning on.

"If I get on them quick it could be outstanding, but if not I could go backwards because you don't get a lot of bites. I also found a place where the shad are spawning on a bank and I might run over there to start with. If I could catch a few good ones early I'd feel more confident about flipping all day."

He shared his best stretch of water with Gerald Swindle (34th) and he said Greg Hackney (53rd) was also in the vicinity. He pitched the new Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw the Scott Suggs-designed bait that'll hit the shelves later this year.

"That thing's lights-out anywhere in Florida."

80th: Vinson Not on Much

> Day 1: 5, 8-12

Classic runner-up Greg Vinson hasn't had a finish lower than 37th in nearly a full year, but that run will be broken here unless he has a big day tomorrow.

"I really just haven't found anything or figured anything out," he said. "I had a really horrible practice I got one decent bite the first day in the mats and I spent the rest of that day and a lot of the next one doing that, but I never could duplicate it.

"I can catch plenty of (smaller) fish flipping the reeds, but I don't have that magic area to get the quality bites."

The best fish in his bag was a 3-pounder and he also lost one that size in the same area. That isn't a big fish for Okeechobee, but it would've helped him considerably today.

"I found a place in the last hour today where I got a couple of my better bites, and maybe I'll go there and try to stick it out. It's the kind of place where you could get a good bite.

"I've got to try to make up some ground and do some damage control tomorrow."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 99 anglers, 92 limits, 4 fours, 1 three, 1 two, 1 zero.

> Bobby Lane is looking forward to logging a decent finish in his home state after a 76th at the Okeechobee FLW Tour Open last month and a 60th at the St. Johns River last week. "It'd be nice just to get a check for once. Those last two tournaments were miserable."

> Grant Goldbeck's bag contained only two fish, but they averaged more than 5 pounds apiece and he's in 65th place just a little more than a pound below the current cutline.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., March 23 - Partly Cloudy - 85/63
- Wind: From the SE at 10 mph

> Sat., March 24 - Partly Cloudy - 86/64
- Wind: From the S at 10 mph

> Sun., March 25 - Scattered T-Storms - 82/58
- Wind: From the W/SW at 12 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 34-05
Day 1: 5, 34-05

2. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 5, 25-09
Day 1: 5, 25-09

3. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 5, 22-03
Day 1: 5, 22-03

4. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 21-15
Day 1: 5, 21-15

5. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 21-03
Day 1: 5, 21-03

6. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 5, 20-15
Day 1: 5, 20-15

7. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 5, 20-09
Day 1: 5, 20-09

8. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 5, 19-06
Day 1: 5, 19-06

9. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 5, 19-06
Day 1: 5, 19-06

10. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 5, 19-05
Day 1: 5, 19-05

11. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 5, 18-10
Day 1: 5, 18-10

12. Kyle A. Fox -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 18-01
Day 1: 5, 18-01

13. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 17-07
Day 1: 5, 17-07

14. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 17-05
Day 1: 5, 17-05

15. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 5, 16-10
Day 1: 5, 16-10

16. Fletcher Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 5, 16-04
Day 1: 5, 16-04

17. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 16-03
Day 1: 5, 16-03

18. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 5, 16-00
Day 1: 5, 16-00

19. Jeremy Starks -- Scott Depot, WV -- 5, 15-12
Day 1: 5, 15-12

20. Pat Golden -- Bethlehem, GA -- 5, 15-08
Day 1: 5, 15-08

20. Michael Iaconelli -- Pittsgrove, NJ -- 5, 15-08
Day 1: 5, 15-08

22. Brent Broderick -- Oregonia, OH -- 5, 15-04
Day 1: 5, 15-04

23. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 15-02
Day 1: 5, 15-02

24. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 14-13
Day 1: 5, 14-13

25. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 14-11
Day 1: 5, 14-11

26. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 5, 14-10
Day 1: 5, 14-10

27. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 14-09
Day 1: 5, 14-09

28. Russell Parrish -- Riesel, TX -- 5, 14-08
Day 1: 5, 14-08

29. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 14-07
Day 1: 5, 14-07

30. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 5, 14-06
Day 1: 5, 14-06

30. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, AL -- 5, 14-06
Day 1: 5, 14-06

32. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 5, 14-05
Day 1: 5, 14-05

33. Boyd Duckett -- Demopolis, AL -- 5, 14-03
Day 1: 5, 14-03

34. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 5, 14-02
Day 1: 5, 14-02

35. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 14-01
Day 1: 5, 14-01

36. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 5, 13-08
Day 1: 5, 13-08

37. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 13-04
Day 1: 5, 13-04

38. Alton Jones -- Woodway, TX -- 5, 13-01
Day 1: 5, 13-01

39. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 5, 13-00
Day 1: 5, 13-00

40. Morizo Shimizu -- Matsugaoka, Japan -- 5, 12-15
Day 1: 5, 12-15

41. Jason Quinn -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 12-11
Day 1: 5, 12-11

42. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 12-10
Day 1: 5, 12-10

43. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 12-09
Day 1: 5, 12-09

43. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 5, 12-09
Day 1: 5, 12-09

45. Jami Fralick -- Martin, SD -- 5, 12-06
Day 1: 5, 12-06

45. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 5, 12-06
Day 1: 5, 12-06

47. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 5, 12-04
Day 1: 5, 12-04

48. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 5, 12-04
Day 1: 5, 12-04

49. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 5, 12-01
Day 1: 5, 12-01

49. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 5, 12-01
Day 1: 5, 12-01

51. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 11-15
Day 1: 5, 11-15

52. Zell Rowland -- Austin, TX -- 5, 11-14
Day 1: 5, 11-14

53. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 11-12
Day 1: 5, 11-12

54. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 11-10
Day 1: 5, 11-10

54. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 5, 11-10
Day 1: 5, 11-10

56. Timmy Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 5, 11-08
Day 1: 5, 11-08

57. Denny Brauer -- Camdenton, MO -- 5, 11-07
Day 1: 5, 11-07

58. Shaw E Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 11-07
Day 1: 5, 11-07

59. Byron Velvick -- Boenre, TX -- 5, 11-06
Day 1: 5, 11-06

60. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 5, 11-04
Day 1: 5, 11-04

61. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 10-15
Day 1: 5, 10-15

61. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 10-15
Day 1: 5, 10-15

63. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 5, 10-13
Day 1: 5, 10-13

64. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 5, 10-12
Day 1: 5, 10-12

65. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, TX -- 2, 10-12
Day 1: 2, 10-12

66. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 5, 10-11
Day 1: 5, 10-11

67. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 5, 10-08
Day 1: 5, 10-08

68. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 10-07
Day 1: 5, 10-07

69. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 5, 10-01
Day 1: 5, 10-01

70. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 5, 09-15
Day 1: 5, 09-15

71. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 09-14
Day 1: 5, 09-14

72. Casey D Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 5, 09-11
Day 1: 5, 09-11

72. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 5, 09-11
Day 1: 5, 09-11

74. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 5, 09-05
Day 1: 5, 09-05

75. Brandon Card -- Caryville, TN -- 5, 09-03
Day 1: 5, 09-03

76. Travis Manson -- De Pere, WI -- 5, 09-01
Day 1: 5, 09-01

77. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 08-15
Day 1: 5, 08-15

77. Casey Scanlon -- Lenexa, KS -- 5, 08-15
Day 1: 5, 08-15

77. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 08-15
Day 1: 5, 08-15

80. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 5, 08-12
Day 1: 5, 08-12

80. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 5, 08-12
Day 1: 5, 08-12

80. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 08-12
Day 1: 5, 08-12

83. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 5, 08-09
Day 1: 5, 08-09

83. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 5, 08-09
Day 1: 5, 08-09

85. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 4, 08-07
Day 1: 4, 08-07

85. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 4, 08-07
Day 1: 4, 08-07

87. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, FL -- 5, 08-01
Day 1: 5, 08-01

88. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 5, 08-00
Day 1: 5, 08-00

89. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 4, 08-00
Day 1: 4, 08-00

90. Clark Reehm -- Lufkin, TX -- 5, 07-08
Day 1: 5, 07-08

91. Dustin Wilks -- Rocky Mount, NC -- 4, 07-08
Day 1: 4, 07-08

92. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 5, 07-07
Day 1: 5, 07-07

93. Jared Miller -- Norman, OK -- 5, 07-01
Day 1: 5, 07-01

94. Terry Butcher -- Talala, OK -- 3, 06-11
Day 1: 3, 06-11

95. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 5, 06-05
Day 1: 5, 06-05

95. Michael Simonton -- Fremont, OH -- 5, 06-05
Day 1: 5, 06-05

97. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 5, 06-01
Day 1: 5, 06-01

98. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, TX -- 5, 03-15
Day 1: 5, 03-15

99. Kevin Ledoux -- Choctaw, OK -- 0, 00-00
Day 1: 0, 00-00