Five Back, Five Forward


I love this time of year, when there are back-to-back Elite Series tournaments with an overlapping FLW Tour derby on a premier smallmouth fishery for good measure. It’s an abundance of riches for pro bassing freaks like me, with not quite enough personal bandwidth to give it all the attention it deserves.

I could write a tome about various aspects of the just-completed Upper Mississippi deal, and I haven’t been as excited about one of these events as I am about Oahe since Falcon in 2008. I’ve got so many ideas flopping around in my head like a grinnel on bass boat carpet that I’m about to explode from ADD/OCD overload.

With that in mind, here are five quick thoughts about Wisconsin, and five given in anticipation of South Dakota:

Looking back on La Crosse:

1.    What can you say about Ish Monroe? He walks the walk. Others say all they care about is winning, but Ish has five B.A.S.S wins, an FLW Tour victory and an FLW Series trophy, plus more than a handful of bombs to show that he’s following the program more than talking about it. Dude looks MAD when he has to even consider picking up a spinning rod.

2.    Why isn’t there duckweed EVERYWHERE?

3.    Randall Tharp may have saved his season with his third place finish. He’d missed four checks in the first six events, and looked like he might miss consecutive championships for the first time in his career. Now he’s back inside the cut.

4.    There is an Onalaska, Wisconsin and an Onalaska, Texas. Both have good bass fishing, although Lake Onalaska on the Mississippi might currently be better than Lake Livingston. There’s also an Unalaska, Alaska (say that 10 times fast). Alaska has worse bass fishing than Livingston.

5.    In a year where a number of veteran pros are really struggling, it was heartening to see Gary Klein make his first cut to Sunday since Wheeler in 2016.

6.    I don’t care what you say. There’s no one more entertaining on stage or on camera – and I’m not limiting this to the fishing world alone – than Aaron Martens.

Looking forward to Oahe:

1.    I’m still not 100% sure how you pronounce the lake’s name. I assume it’s OH-AH-HEE, but I’m scarred for life by the folks who named Ouachita, so I’ll reserve judgment. And if someone from Natchitoches was an early settler of the area, we’re all in trouble.

2.    Does it have largemouths?

3.    Normally I don’t envy the pro anglers’ lives on the road, with all of that windshield time, but after seeing all of their pictures of Mt. Rushmore, the Corn Palace, and the giant prairie dog, this is one 500 mile jaunt I might’ve enjoyed.

4.    One friend described as “a ditch in a canyon” and said that it’s a boat-eater if the wind blows in the right/wrong direction. It’s supposed to blow steadily from the NW starting on Friday. I hope no one gets hurt. I also hope they don’t have to lose a day of fishing, and I don’t fancy the idea of “Championship Tuesday.”

5.    I know that Springsteen was raised in Jersey, but I’m cheering for any angler who uses “Badlands” for his walkup music.

Not even gonna predict where Ott DeFoe will end up