Randall Tharp is known for his cool demeanor, but the second day of the Bassmaster Classic was almost more than he could take.
He went into the day leading the event. That’s enough pressure to try an angler.
But what really affected Tharp’s game plan was when his outboard went down early, costing him nearly 2 hours of fishing time while he was towed to a ramp to have his gear case repaired.
And he lost the lead in the event, falling a mere ounce behind Day 2 leader Edwin Evers.
“I couldn’t generate enough bites (after the repair was made),” he said. “I think I caught three fish in three hours.”
He began the day strong.
“The start to my day, considering everything that was going on — leading the Classic — it was a very good start,” Tharp said. “I put the smackdown on some fish early.”
However, even then it was clear his plan would have to change.
“The big one I weighed in came off a main-river ridge,” Tharp said. “I ran a dozen of those placed today, and that’s the only bite I had.”
When his motor went down, Tharp was towed to a ramp and sat for an hour and 45 minutes while about 100 people watched an Evinrude service tech make the necessary repairs.
“I actually took my long johns off on the ramp today, and all 100 people saw me in my underwear,” Tharp chuckled.
Once he got back on the water, however, it was obvious the areas he had targeted yesterday — which he said were unpressured — simply weren’t going to produce again.
“The amount of current has changed the way the fish are positioning,” he said.
He said his fish came off a combination of an XCalibur XR50 lipless crankbait, a Rapala DT6 crankbait and a Spro McStick jerk bait — with the XR50 being the most productive.
While his five-fish stringer maintained his first-place standing going into the final day of competition, Tharp said he was not happy with the performance.
“I’m very confident about what I am capable of doing on the water, and any day I catch 19 pounds on this lake is a disappointment,” he said. “I expect to be able to go out and catch 25 pounds.”
He said tomorrow he’ll give the areas on which he caught his first-day sack, but would quickly move on if necessary.
“I won’t spend more than a couple of hours if it doesn’t work out,” Tharp said.