Honey badger ropes Red River cobras

Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., leads after day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River with 18 pounds, 8 ounces.

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. - Coming in to day one of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, the big debate was whether a big bag in the upper teens could be caught from the stingy Red River in the middle of August. Each of the last two Cup champions rode big opening-day bags and then solidified the title with average, but consistent stringers. This year, two eye-opening bags were caught on day one as Randall Tharp and Bryan Thrift weighed nearly identical 18-8 and 18-7 stringers. Tharp's day got off to a slow start - an extremely slow start. At 10:30 a.m. he was fishless and had a front-row seat for the Adrian Avena show as the Jersey boy was catching keepers hand over fist. Frustrated and disappointed, Tharp eventually left the area and refocused. "I caught a limit from about 10:30 to 11:30 this morning," said the second-place finisher at the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup. "From 12 to 1 p.m. I caught all the big ones. I was able to fish this one little area, and was able to put the smack down on some good ones." Fourth-place pro Adrian Avena makes a cast as leader Randall Tharp vacates the area. While Thrift had a kicker in the 7 1/2-pound range, Tharp's biggest was just over 5 pounds. But the smallest fish he weighed went nearly 3 pounds. "I had 15 or 20 different places that I had planned on rotating through during this tournament," Tharp added. "The first couple places I went had boats all over them. Later this afternoon I finally got into a groove, into a good rotation. I started running some new water, then went back and visited those places. They had rested, and the fish had repositioned where I could catch them. The fish are just grouped in real small areas." Known as the honey badger, Tharp is one of the premier flippers on the Walmart FLW Tour and while he used several different baits, all were fished on his Halo flipping sticks. As he does down in Okeechobee, Tharp fished some of the thickest cover he could find - including wood, lily pads, hydrilla and milfolil. "I tried some offshore stuff, but everything I weighed came from 3 feet or less. Nobody else is doing what I'm doing. I feel real comfortable fishing here. I had a top-five finish here in a tournament earlier this year, and tomorrow I plan on fishing an area that I fished during that tournament. I was able to get a limit there pretty easily in practice, and I feel like if I can catch another limit tomorrow it should be good enough to get me fishing on day three. Like a true honeybadger, Randall Tharp was trying to burrow his way back into Red River mudholes to hunt cobras. "It's all about timing. My big fish didn't bite until later in the afternoon today, so I'll be in those areas at the right time tomorrow. If I can put some fish in the boat early, it will settle me down." While he didn't expect to catch 18-8, Tharp knew big bags were possible. "I was catching 40 or 50 keepers a day in practice, so I don't think the bite is bad at all. Getting the quality bites is tough, but you've still got to fish for big fish. It's a good start, but I can never be comfortable when I'm fishing against these guys, especially when Bryan Thrift is right behind me." Thrift second Thrift's recent Forrest Wood Cup resume is impeccable, with top-10 finishes in four of the past six Cups. Heading into the event, he made no qualms about the venue and repeatedly stated that he hates rivers. Today, the Red was good to the Chevy pro. "This morning I felt like there was going to be a big bag or two," said the two-time FLW Tour champion. "But I didn't think it was going to come from me." Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., found himself only 1 ounce off the overall lead during the first day of Forrest Wood Cup competition on the Red River. Thrift's co-angler, Alan Woodford, caught a 5-pounder at about 9:30 this morning. Thrift made the exact same cast and caught his 7 1/2-pound kicker, which bit a shaky head and a 6 1/2-inch Damiki Finesse Miki. Right then, Thrift recognized he caught a game-changing fish. "I knew that fish was going to make the day. I had no idea that kind of quality was there. You can't explain a day like this, especially on the Red River in August. It's really hard to catch anything over 2 or 2 1/2 pounds. I could go out there tomorrow and catch 7 pounds." Thrift said he spent most of his day throwing a "hodgepodge" of baits in Pool 5. His second-biggest fish, a 3-plus pounder, came from entirely new water. "I have one little other deal that seems to be working pretty good. If I can get a couple bites on it, I think I have a shot to catch a couple 2 1/2-pounders." In total, Thrift boated 13 or 14 keepers Thursday. "I'm happy. When we were here two years ago in May my biggest bag was 9 pounds." Nixon third The General Larry Nixon in his wheelhouse: worming in the summertime.The one title that has eluded Larry Nixon is the Forrest Wood Cup. He thought he was going to win in 2010 on Lake Lanier and he thought he was going to win back in 2000 on this very same Red River. In fact, he led going in to the final day only to watch fellow Chevy pro Dion Hibdon take home the title. After catching a 13-pound, 4-ounce stringer Thursday, Nixon is right back in the thick of things in third place. "I took me a little while, but I found the right cast and caught four in a row," said Nixon, who caught 10 keepers on the day. "Then a little later I fished around and caught a 4-pounder. And I finished the day with a new pattern, which allowed me to cull three times. I was excited about that." Nixon said he's fishing slow with smaller finesse-style plastics, "pretty much the way I want." He said he sampled only one pool and stayed relatively shallow. He intended to fish several other areas, but knew the north wind would put too much stain into the water. Avena fourth Adrian Avena fights a Red River largemouth to the boat. While the mid-morning bite was fast and furious for Avena, he managed only one additional upgrade in the afternoon - finishing the day with a limit worth 13 pounds, 2 ounces. "I caught them on four different types of crankbaits, some squarebills, some deep divers," said the Vineland, N.J., pro, who boated well over 40 keepers on the day. "That one late cull came on a frog and I spent some time flipping too." Avena stayed exclusively in Pool 5 - starting in Port Lake before immediately running to another area downriver. He stayed there until almost 1 p.m. as the action was nearly nonstop. "It's an area where there's some current, some rock and some bait. I'm boat No. 1 tomorrow so I'll start on it and I think it's possible to catch a limit and maybe scrounge out a big one or two." Avena found the spot in prepractice and has four others that are similar in nature. Interestingly, he sounded unconcerned with the boat traffic in the area as it may have actually helped him today. "I think all those other boats moving through helped, almost as though they were aiding the current." Avena currently sits in fourth, just over 5 pounds back of the leaders. "I might be behind, but it's a four quarter deal." Rose fifth Mark Rose is now considered the ledgemaster, but he cut his teeth fishing shallow rivers. He Mark Rose starts the day in a big pad field. took second the last time the FLW Tour visited the Red and he's currently fifth after catching a 12-pound, 15-ounce opening-day limit. "It's a good start," said the Walmart pro. "I'm going to treat this like a marathon. I wasn't fast out of the gate, but I am catching a good number of fish. I had a pretty good practice, but I actually think the water clearing up right now is going to help the shallow bite more. I know I'm around big fish, but today was sort of a backwards day for the fish. I'd like to start in the same place tomorrow but go somewhere different in the afternoon." Rose said he's throwing a new Strike King bait that he'll reveal later in the week. Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Forrest Wood Cup after day one: 6th: Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., five bass, 12-8 7th: Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark., five bass, 12-7 8th: Mark Daniels Jr. of Fairfield, Calif., five bass, 11-12 9th: Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 11-8 10th: Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., five bass, 11-6 10th: David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., five bass, 11-6 Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. Central time from Red River South Marina located at 250 Red River South Marina Road in Bossier City, La. As a proud sponsor of FLW, Walmart offers one of the most comprehensive selections of fishing tackle and equipment in the industry. To find great deals on Walmart's entire collection of rods, reels, baits and electronics, click here.

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-06-29-dobson-sticks-with-jerkbait-for-win

Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division tournament of 2015 on Lake St. Clair. For his victory, Dobson earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-johnston-targets-beds-for-big-limit

Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

Cory Johnston of Cavan, Ontario, Canada, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 25 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament of 2015 on 1000 Islands. For his victory, Johnston earned $5,632. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-football-jig-helps-bates-net-title

Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

Matthew Bates of Greenville, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds even Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Ferguson. For his victory, Bates earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-hipsher-hops-ledges-for-victory

Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

Craig Hipsher of Benton, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League LBL Division tournament of 2015 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his victory, Hipsher earned $4,385. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-lauer-wins-on-ohio-river

Lauer Wins on Ohio River

David Lauer of McConnelsville, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 12 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Lauer earned $6,289. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-29-creature-bait-does-it-for-berhorst

Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Ozark Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Truman. For his victory, Berhorst earned $5,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-wendlandt-back-at-the-top

Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-top-10-patterns-from-the-potomac-river

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-28-potomac-river-day-4-coverage

Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-wendlandt-receives-helping-hand

Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-27-potomac-river-day-3-coverage

Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-wendlandt-in-familiar-territory

Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-26-potomac-river-day-2-coverage

Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-jersey-boy-leads-the-pack

Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

Talk about a traffic jam. And, no, we’re not talking about the streets around the Washington, D.C. area. We’re talking about the standings at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. Adrian “Jersey Boy” Avena leads the way with a 16-pound, 12-ounce limit, but a total of 41 pros weighed in at least 12 pounds. Many pros lamented the tough bite today, but the results say otherwise as 114 limits were brought to the scale on the pro side. Troy Morrow trails Avena by just 1-06, and 1 ounce behind Morrow is one of the most successful tidewater bass anglers of all time, Bryan Schmitt. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-top-5-patterns-from-potomac-river-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-aoy-shake-up-martin-makes-his-move

AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-25-potomac-river-day-1-coverage

Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-richardson-wins-all-american

Richardson Wins All-American

Curtis Richardson has a way of surprising people – even himself. The Ontario angler had all but written himself off in the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American, thinking his limit of five bass wouldn’t hold up for long with the likes of Jeremy Lawyer and Bill Schroeder breathing down his neck. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-20-all-american-midday-update-day-3

All-American Midday Update Day 3

Big changes might be coming in the standings of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American on Kentucky Lake, as some of the top 10 leaders struggled this morning to catch limits. Canadian angler Curtis Richardson, who currently is leading, had only one 3-pound keeper by midmorning. And second-place boater Billy Schroeder, who had fished just below the Paris Landing Bridge for the first two days, finally bailed out from there after catching four keepers this morning. READ MORE »