Some people who've seen Ish Monroe recently for the first time in awhile have had a hard time recognizing him. His physique has been transformed from one reminiscent of a nose tackle to more of an outside linebacker look.

The Californian has been on a strict diet and workout regimen since early November and he's dropped 23 pounds. He didn't wear a tournament jersey during his seminars at the recent Sacramento edition of The Bass University because the ones he has would've have hung over his slimmed-down frame like the skirt on a mop jig.

"I told (the producer of his jerseys) that at some point this year I'm going to want a tight muscle shirt with all the same sponsor logos," he said. "And I'm not going to have anything hanging out on the sides."

Doctor Calls the Shots

Monroe's fitness program was designed by a Bay Area doctor who specializes in nutrition, and it's being conducted under her supervision. He visits her office once a month for progress checks.

When he began the program, he was carrying 258 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. He's in the low 230s now and hopes to be down around 200 by the time summer arrives.

His poor performance on the Bassmaster Elite Series last year (he finished 79th in the Angler of the Year race), combined with his desire to fish both the Elites and the FLW Tour in 2010, were the primary reasons that he decided to undertake the regimen. Also, he broke up with his girlfriend, which gave him more free time to devote to himself.

"I knew that if I was going to do the two-tour thing successfully, I had to be in the best shape of my life," he said. "When I did it before (in 2006), it was too hard on me. I'm setting my goals for this year real high – I want to win the Angler of the Year on both tours, which is something that's never been done before."

He limits his food intake to about 1,300 calories a day (a regular-sized Big Mac combo at McDonald's contains 1,900). He eats a lot of chicken, fish and turkey, and very little red meat. Steamed vegetables and wheat or whole-grain bread are also staples – whole-grain waffles are among his breakfast favorites, but he pours honey on them instead of maple syrup.

"You can still have the sugars because your body needs to burn those. I also drink six to 10 (20-ounce) bottles of Aquafina water a day, mixed with a packet of Crystal Light. Those packets are 5 calories each."

Photo: BassFan

As Monroe esplains, he needs to acquire some new jerseys for the upcoming season – the ones he has are now much too large.

Now a Gym Rat

Monroe visits a gym at least five times a week and said he burns off about 800 calories with a 45-minute run on a treadmill. He also does some light free-weight work on a program put together for him by a friend who was formerly a certified personal trainer.

"I stop at 45 minutes of (cardiovascular work) because after that you're burning muscle," he said. "With the weights, I'm not trying to bulk up or anything – I just want to lean out and be in the best health I can be.

"The doctor told me that a guy with a 40-inch waist has a 70% higher chance of having a heart attack than a guy with a 32-inch waist. I was a 38 when I started and I'm down to a 36 now, and I could probably wear 34s."

He plans to continue his routine during the tour season, and for the most part he doesn't foresee that as being too difficult. On the Elite Series, he rooms with John Crews (a workout freak) and Mike and Becky Iaconelli (healthy-eating fanatics). He has a small weight set that will travel with him.

"I'll just have to figure out how to do the cardio, whether it means getting up an hour earlier to walk or run, or doing it in the afternoons. It might be hard sometimes, but it's just something that I have to do.

"It's made a huge difference not just in the way I feel, but the looks I get from people. And it's not just a few people, but almost everybody I run into."


> Monroe said he'll soon release a new line of apparel called BassADX. "We'll have something for fishermen of every age. The Nature series will be for the more mature guys, and we'll have the Destroyer and Tribal for the high school to age 30 crowd. And then the Graffiti is a cartoon line that will appeal to people of any age."