ESPN2 and ESPN Radio: Bass dreams

Ish Monroe and Katrina DeHaven say they couldn't ask for more than an opportunity to fish for a living and be good role models.

Monroe and DeHaven are fishing-practice partners who reside in Phoenix.

They also happen to be among the few African-American anglers participating in competitive bass circuits.

As Black History Month continues, ESPN2's "BassCenter" and "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio" offer profiles on these two anglers.

When asked what he wishes for his legacy, Ish Monroe says he hopes to be remembered for his art of catching largemouth bass, nothing more and nothing less.

"I really don't want to be considered to be a Tiger Woods. I just want to be known as an angler for his ability to catch fish and that he's a nice guy on the water," said Monroe, 30, of Phoenix, who will be interviewed this weekend on a "BassCenter" segment on African-American pro bassers.

Part of ESPN Outdoors' Bass Saturday, "BassCenter" airs at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

"One reason that I got into this sport is that there are no color lines," said Monroe, who competes on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour. "In fact, there's just one color and that's green — the green of money and the green of bass."

So far, Monroe has been learning how to capture the green quite well … in terms of bass for the weigh-in scales and the checks that come from such catches.

With one career appearance in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic — he finished 54th at the 2003 Classic — Monroe has finished in the money 33 times out of the 75 tournaments he has entered.

Such consistency, coupled with his No. 16 ranking in the current 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year point standings, has brought Monroe not only the attention of fans, but also sponsors.

"I've been able to get quite a few sponsors," Monroe agreed.

"How do I get them? Some would say because I'm black. But I talk to my sponsors and they say that's not the case.

"They say I know how to market myself and that I have a job to do and I do it very well."

Monroe learned how to do that job very well because of parents that he says laid a solid foundation of good morals and hard work as he grew up in the San Francisco Bay area.

And a keen love for fishing was instilled in Monroe at an early age by his father.

"He took me fishing every chance he could get," Monroe said. "He made the love for fishing so strong; I just wanted to figure out a way to make a living fishing."

As Monroe considered his options, he admits that guiding seemed like too much work and being a deckhand on a party boat didn't seem like much fun.

But when he got his first glimpse of tournament angling on television as a teen-ager, he was hooked.

Even so, the dream of fishing for a living has not been an easy catch for Monroe.

"I worked odd jobs up until the time I was 24," Monroe said. "I was in the car business, was a UPS loader and worked at Play It Again Sports. I've pretty much done it all to try to make it."

As he worked hard to make it in pro angling, Monroe finally caught the eye of his first sponsor — Scot Laney.

"He's one of the most important parts to me fishing today," Monroe said. "He sponsored me and without him and my father, I definitely wouldn't be doing this now."

What Monroe is doing is being a nice guy off the water who is a tough, fish-catching competitor on the water.

Those are both qualities that he hopes will inspire young people to pursue angling as a career regardless of their particular ethnic background.

"I'd like to be known as a guy that went from basically nothing and who made something of his life other than gangs and such," Monroe said. "I'd like to be a positive role model."

Monroe certainly isn't alone in his quest to live out the dream of fishing for a living or of being a positive role model.

Katrina DeHaven is a 32-year old Phoenix angler who also dreams of the day that she'll make her living pulling bass from the water.

Currently a non-boater and co-angler on the FLW Everstart Western division and the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open circuits, this energetic young lady recently received her first check at an event on Arizona's Lake Havasu.

But as she has done since her late father taught her beginning at the age of 3 in the upstate New York hamlet of Liberty, DeHaven has been learning more about fishing over the last year by traveling both the CITGO Bassmaster Pro Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Tour angling circuits.

"Last year, I went for broke," said DeHaven, who will be interviewed by Tommy Sanders on the "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio."

"I figured that the best thing I could do if I wanted to be a tournament fisherman is to spend time on the water," she added. "I put 44,000 miles on my car, fished 10 states and slept in my Land Rover.

"My attitude was that if I wanted to play with the big boys, then I've got to fish with them."

And fish with them she has done, learning from such angling friends as her practice partner Monroe and the likes of Kelly Jordon, Mark Tyler, John Murray and Roy Hawk.

Those friends and their families, who DeHaven now describes as her own family, have taught her the ins and outs of bass angling over the past several months.

And the 5-foot-2 basser whose license plate reads "Bass Kat" has learned by her own admission how to walk softly in the world of tournament angling and carry a big stick … a 6-foot graphite flipping stick, that is.

All of that angling education has come after DeHaven — who recently fished in Spain as a part of the EuroBass Cup on the Mike Iaconelli-captained U.S. squad — walked away from a more conventional career.

Leaving behind a lucrative lifestyle that found her holding high-level sales and marketing positions for restaurant and resort companies, DeHaven has endeavored to find a new career path following the death of her father.

Why would a vibrant young woman of African-American, Native American, Dutch, Chinese, Filipino and Spanish decent chuck it all to catch bass for a living?

In DeHaven's case, it's because she has found fishing to be the best therapy and medicine that money can buy for a number of medical problems she has faced throughout her adult life.

"I've been in and out of the hospital and have had numerous surgeries," DeHaven said. "The water was like a medicine.

"The best drug isn't Tylenol or anything like it; it's the adrenaline when you bring that fish in."

She also has found joy in inspiring young anglers regardless of their ethnic background or gender.

"The biggest high you can get is when a kid says, 'I want to be just like you,'" DeHaven said. "It's when a little girl aspires (to fish) and tells her mom, 'I want to be just like her, mom.'"

While DeHaven hopes to find success and riches on the pro angling circuits — she'd like to one day win the CITGO Bassmaster Classic — more than anything, she appreciates waking up each day and seeing the sun rise over creation again.

"I've been very blessed," DeHaven said. "I've got a career now where I get to wake up with God to see the sun rise and to see it set.

"How much more can we ask for?"

Monroe points out that what he is doing isn't anything different from that which millions of other people around the world dream about each and every day.

"It's anybody's dream," Monroe said. "To me there is no African-American dream, no American dream; it's just everybody doing something they love to do and go make a living at it.

"There's not one person in this world that would not want to make a living doing what they love doing."

And that includes Monroe and DeHaven, two anglers living out their dreams on the tournament trails of professional bass fishing.

  • Click here to learn more about "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio." And to find the ESPN Radio affiliate in your area, click here.