Monroe Races to Sudden Death Win in Challenge Cup

By Joel Shangle - June 4, 2018

VIDALIA, Louis. – Two things became clear shortly after “Lines in!” for the first Sudden Death Round of the 2018 Lucas Oil Challenge Cup in Vidalia, Louisiana: the 22-pound target weight on Lake Bruin was probably going to fall in a hurry, and the angler to beat was probably going to be Ish Monroe.

The Daiwa pro served notice to the rest of the field in the first few minutes of competition, boating a 3-pound, 15-ounce largemouth. He backed that up with two more 3-pounders and a 2-pounder that pushed Monroe halfway to the cut weight before an hour had passed in the period.

“He made us look like a bunch of school children,” Gary Klein muttered.

A flurry of five 2-pounders later, Monroe had blasted past the target weight with 23-12 and was on his way back to the hotel for a shower and an early lunch.

“Now that’s what happens when everything comes together,” Monroe remarked. “I made the right cast with the right rod right at the start of the day, and that’s all I needed to know.”

Monroe relied on a simple bladed jig with a green pumpkin trailer right from the get-go. While Aaron Martens, Jeff Kriet, Bobby Lane and the rest of the nine-man field alternated among crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, etc., through the entire first period, Monroe methodically picked apart a series of docks and cypress knees, ringing up SCORETRACKER with three mini-flurries that saw him score 8-6 in one 10-minute span, 7-3 in a 29-minute stretch, and 4-13 in a 4-minute window later in the period.

The only thing that could slow Monroe down: the period break, which simply delayed the inevitable. Monroe hooked a 2-6 20 minutes into Period 2 for the win.

“He made us look like a bunch of school children,” Gary Klein muttered.

For the rest of the round, it was a scramble for the remaining three spots in the Championship Round.

Andy Montgomery clocked out with 23-9 exactly an hour after Monroe, and then Klein scratched his way to 22-5 with his 15th fish of the day, a 1-1 on a Berkley Power Worm. The final advancement of the day: Martens, who didn’t land a scorable bass for the first two hours of the day, but leap-frogged Jeff Kriet thanks to the biggest fish of the day (a 4-4) early in the third period.  

NOTES: Monroe came into the Challenge Cup in dire need of a strong performance to qualify for the General Tire World Championship: he started the event in 19th place with 30 cumulative points over the three Cups contested in 2017 and 2018, and needed to make up 12 points on Mark Davis to guarantee a spot in the Championship.

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