Louis Monetti is a New Jersey angler who recently took the win at the 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence River. Louis gives us all the details about the big smallmouth bass he caught and his recent win at the Megabux Tournament.
How long have you been tournament fishing?
I’m from Brielle, New Jersey. Not exactly a bass fisherman’s dream, but certainly a fishing town known for it’s excellent inshore and offshore saltwater fishing. I grew up fishing for Stripers and Blues and just about anything else I could get a hook into.
In grade school, a friend of mine took me bass fishing at a local pond. I became instantly addicted. When I was 14…I turn 19 in October…I signed up to fish in the youth program of a local club and have been fishing competitively ever since.
Before the Megabux Tournament, you had fished the 1000 Islands area 3 times. How had your fishing been up there?
My first trip to the St Lawrence was a long while ago, probably the year before I started fishing tournaments. I remember fishing the shallow grass of Lake of the Isles and Goose Bay for largemouth, as well as catching a few incidental smallies while walleye fishing out of our rented pontoon boat.
My second trip was 2 years ago, again out of a rented pontoon but with much more under my belt. We were much more successful that trip, and it was probably then that I realized how amazing of a place it was.
Last year I had my first experience of the river on a bass boat when I trailered my 17′ Ranger the 6 hours up there. More of the same on that trip, obviously with the added comfort and convenience of electronics and a trolling motor.
The one constant with those 3 prior trips was that I had never fished the Canadian side of the river. When my club put it on the schedule, I made sure that I would explore those foreign waters for the event.
What were your thoughts going into the Megabux Tournament?
Going into the tournament I was really excited. I was honestly quite intimidated by the sheer amount of water that I would face now that I had opened up an entire new half of an already immense fishery. I wasn’t quite sure of how I’d go about breaking it down.
Being that it was the club’s first time up there, I was honestly most concerned with everybody enjoying the fishing and making a return trip with the club a possibility. My good friend Trevor and I both traveled and camped together for the trip. We were both very hopeful that we would claim the two top spots.
How was your practice?
Practice went pretty well for me. I covered a lot of water, eliminated a lot of water, and found a pretty consistent post-spawn pattern that I had a lot of confidence in going into the tournament.
With the water temperature ranging from 68 to 72 degrees, I spent a little bit of time searching for bedding fish with no success at all. I had 4 days to practice, and by about midday on the second day I realized that the fish were in mainly a post-spawn phase.
I spent the remaining days expanding on my areas and eliminating water. The key for me was sticking to an area just North of the border which spanned about 10 miles and was loaded with all kinds of different structure and cover for those fish. It was one area that I was confident I could get better bites in. I devoted myself towards it in the tournament.
Was this a total smallmouth bass tournament for you?
For me, every fish I weighed in and a very large percent of the fish I caught during the week were smallmouth bass. I spent a pretty good amount of time in practice back in Goose Bay and Lake of the Isles trying to find those better quality largemouth but just couldn’t. The smallmouth were much easier to find and more importantly much easier to find in quality for me during this event.
How did the first day of the tournament go?
The first day of the tournament started off horrendously for me. I went to my first spot at which I found some really nice fish at in practice and started my morning off with about 4 or 5 really solid missed blowups on a spook. I grinded it out there for about 2 hours longer than I probably should have, catching a really small limit on that spook and a spybait.
At about 8AM I ran to another island had some big fish on it in practice, and after missing a few bites on a spybait I saw a big shadow in about 20 feet of water. That fish ate my Ned rig first cast, and after fighting it to the boat it made a run and jumped off. Easy 4.5+ pound fish.
I knew I could get more quality bites, but I knew 5 of those are not easy to come by. After culling 10 minutes later with a solid fish, I went back over to where I lost the big one and saw it in the same spot. When I looked closer, I was shocked to see it on a bed. I threw the Ned in twice, no interest.
First cast with the dropshot she bit and I put her in the boat. That was probably the biggest moment of the week for me. It was the first and only fish I saw on a bed the whole trip. I slowly culled up throughout the day, fishing the Ned rig in current and catching another 4 right where I had caught the big one in the morning. I went to weigh in thinking I had about 17 pound and at the very least a chance going into the next day.
What place were you in after day 1?
To my surprise, I weighed in almost 18 pounds and was leading by almost 2.5 pounds going into the next day. I didn’t pay much attention to weather or anything, and I was planning on fielding whatever conditions were thrown my way. I knew that I would need to repeat or do better to have a shot at winning. I went into that second day with plans to put another 17 plus in the boat no matter what.
How did day 2 play out?
Day two started out much differently than day one. I went back to my day one starting spot, and before taking my first cast I knew that things would go very different. It was drizzling and there was a light chop with wind, and my gut told me to pick up a jerkbait. After tying on a jerkbait…I still had one with bent hooks tied on from practice…I fished that area hard.
I came around a key current break, tossed it up there, and hit a brick wall after two rips. Two headshakes, and a big brown missile followed that, and I Brought my big fish of the day into the boat. The rest of the day was nothing short of magical. I simply smashed ’em on just about every spot I hit, throwing three’s back at the end of the day like they were nothing.
The Ned rig and jerkbait put all of my weight in the boat, and I weighed in a personal best winning bag of over 21 pounds, resulting in a two day total of 39 pounds.
When did you know you may just have the win?
The big fish to start the day weighed 5.91lbs and really anchored my catch. At around 9 to 10 in the morning, I found a small spot where some bigger fish seemed to have grouped up and made 4 culls on 4 casts, including 2 over 4 pounds. At that point I didn’t think I had won it, but I definitely knew that someone would have to come in with a big bag to beat me.
Overall, what 5 pieces of advice based on your experience do you have for anyone else fishing a July tournament on the 1000 Islands?
My 5 peices of advice coming out of that tournament would be first and foremost to always trust yourself, and not to second guess yourself when out on tournament day.
Secondly I think that keeping your baits simple and relying on baits you have confidence in is very important. Leave the bait testing for practice.
I think one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer is that you should never be afraid to run around and practice a little during a tournament. It often helps to get outside the areas you fished in the days prior to the event.
Next I think that keeping a positive mental attitude is an absolute necessity. Had I not kept my head in the right place I do not think I walk away winning the event.
Lastly, I would advise anyone within 10 hours, and further to schedule a trip up to the 1000 islands! It is a magnificent place to visit and a phenomenal fishery that everyone should experience.
Great information Louis! Thanks and Congrats on the win! Will be following all of your success on Instagram @loumonetti_fishing.
Check out our St. Lawrence River bass fishing page for more information on this incredible fishery.