Kyle Monti’s Eyes are on the Stars

Now $1,600 richer is co-angler Kyle Monti. He finished 10th at Pickwick.

Kyle Monti knows the score.

The spotlight won’t linger on him at the Forrest Wood Cup, even if he did qualify to fish it as a co-angler. He won’t have to think of anything clever to say to Chris Jones or Jason Harper when he weighs in, because chances are he’ll be quickly shunted along to make room for the big boys. Monti doesn’t have a problem with that. He’s just finished his first season of the Walmart FLW Tour and knows he’s still an unknown quantity. To be special in this world, you have to do special things.

Although 22, Monti has the build of a slender teenager and a face to match. Still, though he’s not yet fleshed-out, he has man-sized ambition, and his career is progressing nicely along those lines. The rookie from Okeechobee, Fla., finished 11th in the co-angler standings this year. Only fellow newcomer Grayson Smith of Clarksville, Tenn., did better among rookies, having placed fourth in the co-angler ranks.

If you had seen Monti in the pre-dawn darkness on a chilly March morning at Sam Rayburn, shivering in the wind while waiting for his ride on the first day of the Walmart FLW Tour event there, you might not have expected that he would have done so well. Excitement swirled around him, but he was like a boulder in the current. He seemed unmoved by the hubbub that a new tournament season always generates. There was a hangdog look to him, which was understandable considering that his father, John, had died 11 days before in Belle Glade, Fla. According to Kyle, his father had become embroiled in a verbal altercation that quickly got out of control like a windswept sugarcane fire. His father’s life was ended by a gunshot.

John Monti, 39 years old when he was killed, was a rough-hewn cracker who grew up in an area where crimes involving gangs or drugs are frequently in the news, and where disagreements are often settled by violence. Kyle’s father and mother split up when he was very young. Kyle eventually moved with his mom to Okeechobee. His life could have easily taken a bad turn early, but along the way there was always somebody or something to keep him centered. Then, too, he made a decision to stay away from the places where trouble festered and cultures clashed, to keep his focus straight ahead toward his goal of becoming a professional bass fisherman.

John Monti encouraged his son’s interest in fishing. He took Kyle bass fishing in the cane field canals and kept him supplied in tackle and lures. Kyle’s stepgrandfather, the late Ray Austin, introduced him to Lake Okeechobee and the different techniques for locating and catching bass in big water. Other family members supported him as well.

“I think I was like 2 years old when I caught my first bass, and I never wanted to do anything but fish from then on,” says Kyle. “One time when I was just a kid, FLW had a tournament on Lake Okeechobee, and my dad took me to Chevy Pro Night [where Chevy pros meet and greet fans at a local Chevrolet dealership a few days prior to an event]. It wasn’t a very big dealership, so there weren’t a lot of people there. I got to meet all the pros and talk to them. Kevin VanDam was there, and he talked to me a long time.”

As Kyle got older, The Bass Federation played a significant role in his development as an angler. When he turned 10, he was able to join the Big “O” Teen Anglers, a Federation-backed club, and he stayed in it until he reached 18.

“We had 12 tournaments a year, and I had 96 tournaments under my belt by the time I was 18,” recalls Kyle. “I won Angler of the Year three times in three years, and started fishing BFLs when I turned 16. So I got a lot of experience up front. The best thing about it when I was a kid was being able to fish with Federation guys.

“In the junior club, kids would go out with a boat captain who was a local Federation member, and somebody that might have fished at the BFL level too. All the ones I fished with were especially good at something – flipping docks, fishing wood and weeds, Carolina rigs, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater, jigs. I cut years off my learning curve just by fishing with those guys.”

In addition to fishing the Walmart Bass Fishing League when he turned 16, Kyle was a member of the Indian River State College fishing club. In 2013, he and teammate Mike Cornell finished eighth in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Beaver Lake.

Along the way, Kyle made a lot of friends, some of whom support him today: Bill Lewis Lures, Medlock Jigs, Denali Rods among them, as well as local help such as the Farm Bureau Insurance office and Cam’s Mobile Marine Service. Next year, he’ll join the Walmart FLW Tour pro ranks and hopes to follow in the footsteps of such co-angler-turned-pro-standouts as Scott Martin, Stetson Blaylock, Casey Martin and Spencer Shuffield.

“Flipping a jig is by far my favorite way to catch fish,” says Kyle. “Anytime flipping comes into play, I feel that I’ve got as good a chance as anybody to win. I would describe myself as a power fisherman, but I’ve also developed versatility, thanks to what I’ve learned from pros like Cody Meyer. If you’re not versatile, you can’t be successful at the top level.”

Kyle proved his versatility earlier this season [on YouTube, type Kyle Monti Promo in Search box]. Despite the grief and mental turmoil he felt over his father’s death, Kyle fished the Rayburn tournament and finished 20th. Prior to that, in the first tournament of the year on his home lake of Okeechobee in February, he placed seventh, and he came in 10th in each of the last events of the 2014 campaign, at Pickwick and Kentucky lakes – fishing deep. Through it all, he was able to practice or fish with the likes of Jim Moynagh and Casey Ashley, Cody Meyer and Kerry Milner, and learned something important from each.

Kyle’s ambition isn’t unique. Somewhere up ahead, he wants to take his turn at being the best. He wants to be the next Andy Morgan or Kevin VanDam until he becomes, finally and firmly, the one and only Kyle Monti.

If you spot him on the dock before takeoff at the Cup, seemingly engaged in a cellphone conversation with someone, chances are Kyle is listening to his father’s voice. In times past, before various tournaments, John Monti would call his son and wish him well. Kyle saved a dozen or so recorded messages and plays them back occasionally. Words of encouragement such as any man might pass along to his son, but words that are echoes.

The Forrest Wood Cup is nothing if not a statement that people who set their minds to do something important can overcome obstacles to get it done. The greater the prize, the bigger the roadblocks. Kyle Monti understands this already. He’s got time, and will proceed at his own pace. Though his eyes are on the stars, his feet are firmly planted.

He knows the score.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-2015-forrest-wood-cup-field-announced

2015 Forrest Wood Cup Field Announced

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-hunter-captures-co-angler-of-the-year-title

Hunter Captures Co-angler of the Year Title

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for first-year Walmart FLW Tour co-angler John Hunter, who wrapped up a phenomenal season from the back of the boat to win Co-angler of the Year and the Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard that goes with it. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-aoy-update-martin-controls-his-destiny-

AOY Update: Martin Controls His Destiny

Scott Martin is on the verge of winning the only major FLW title that has escaped him to this point: Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year. As John Cox and Bryan Thrift stumbled in the Walmart FLW Tour season finale on the Potomac River, Martin steamed ahead and made the top-20 cut in 11th place with 26 pounds, 9 ounces. The way the math checks out, if Martin finishes 19th place or better, he’ll win AOY. If he finishes 20th, he’ll be tied with Cox. The tiebreaker awards AOY to the angler with the most total weight for the season. If he finishes 20th, Martin can still win by bringing at least 11-13 to the scale on day three. Anything less and Cox survives to win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-25-on-the-bubble-for-the-cup-

On the Bubble for the Cup

By rule, the top 35 anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings make the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita Aug. 20-23. However, when a Tour pro pre-qualifies through another of FLW’s tournament circuits and also finishes in the top 35, an additional Cup invitation is extended to the angler in 36th place, and on down the list in the event of additional double qualifications. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-24-a-bass-fisherman-in-need

A Bass Fisherman in Need

Friends of FLW College Fishing angler David Cosner have established a fund to help the Texas fisherman pay medical bills associated with his long battle with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a debilitating disease that gradually destroys the organs. Cosner, who founded the Texas State University Bass Cats and was named to the 2010 FLW College Fishing All-America team, was diagnosed with the rare disease in 2009 when he was 17 and since has had to undergo 215 surgeries. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-coy-and-roy-on-the-line

COY and ROY on the Line

FLW is hauling a lot of hardware to Maryland this week for the final stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The world’s largest tournament fishing organization is also going to be writing some fat checks. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-18-father-of-david-dudley-passes

Father of David Dudley Passes

James Dudley, the father of longtime Walmart FLW Tour pro David Dudley, passed away June 17 after a lengthy illness. He was a lifetime resident of Lynchburg, Va., and a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Like his son, James Dudley was also a tournament fisherman and competed in 73 FLW events. He finished in the top 10 in eight of them. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-12-is-this-the-new-bass-fishing-capital-of-the-south-

Is this the New Bass Fishing Capital of the South?

Dayton, Tenn., is situated on Richland Creek, a tributary that flows into the western side of Lake Chickamauga, one of the hottest bass fisheries in the country. Local officials with a flair for marketing – and good business sense – believe that Chickamauga can be the sellable “brand” that attracts bass fishermen to come and spend their time and their money in Dayton. They believe that old-fashioned Southern hospitality and small-town charm, plus trophy bass, are just the recipe for turning Dayton into “The New Bass Fishing Capital of the South.” READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-09-bass-bbq-is-back

Bass & BBQ is Back

Bass fishing and barbecue are favorite Southern pastimes, made even better when you spice them up with a little competition. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-04-bfl-payouts

BFL Payouts

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-01-2015-flw-tv-schedule

2015 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-01-miss-nina-wins-more-accolades

Miss Nina Wins More Accolades

When the letter that notified Nina Wood that she was being inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame came awhile back, she was a bit surprised. None of the rest of us was. In a sense, it was a restatement of the obvious, another in a long line of awards and recognition earned by the co-founder of Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-19-missed-opportunities-at-beaver-lake

Missed Opportunities at Beaver Lake

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-12-strader-maintains-lead-at-halfway-mark

Strader Maintains Lead At Halfway Mark

Midway through the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, Tennessee pro Wes Strader is in first place in the Angler of the Year race, and his prospects for winning it are as good as anyone’s. Two upcoming events, at lakes Eufaula and Chickamauga, “fish” in a way that suits his style, and he has a good track record on the Potomac River, the last Tour stop of 2015. A good finishing kick could earn the veteran his first AOY title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-10-mother-of-ramie-colson-jr-passes

Mother of Ramie Colson Jr. Passes

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-07-community-outreach-sportsmanship-award-

Community Outreach (Sportsmanship Award)

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-06-tornadoes-sweep-across-oklahoma

Tornadoes Sweep Across Oklahoma

2014 Rayovac FLW Series Champion Zack Birge, whose appears in the Central Division Tournament on Kentucky Lake was cut short by tornados at his home town in Oklahoma, characterized the damage to his house as “a near miss.” READ MORE »