UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Kerr Lake

Randall Tharp Q&A

Randall Tharp, the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup champion, balances bass fishing and redfishing in Florida's brackish bays.

Q: How has winning the Forrest Wood Cup changed your life?

A: There is no denying it, when you win that amount of money at one time, it does change your life to a certain degree. Even if you walked into a convenience store, bought a scratch-off ticket and won $500,000, it would change your life, unless you were already some kind of multimillionaire.

So to win that much money is sort of surreal. But one misconception I do want to clear up is that I did not take a half-million dollars and blow it on a beachfront mansion in Florida. [Laughing] I think some people might be under the impression that I took all my winnings and bought a giant house on the Gulf of Mexico like a rock star. That’s not true. I actually sold my home in Birmingham and bought a house in a coastal town in Florida long before I won the Cup. Now, it is true we were in the midst of moving from Alabama to Florida during the Cup last year, but the house was already purchased before I even finished the 2013 Tour season. The Cup winnings went straight to my fishing account, which is what has funded my fishing career since day one: tournament winnings. And in that regard, yes, it has given Sara and me quite a bit of breathing room in terms of the financial stresses that fishing for a living can cause.

Q: How has winning the Cup changed your career?

A: Following the Cup win, I did a lot of media in the form of radio, television, print, news interviews, personal appearances, speaking engagements, etc. Shortly after the Cup win I won a B.A.S.S. Open on Ross Barnett, which then qualified me for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and the 2014 Elite Series. And that only seemed to fuel the media storm even more. I spent a lot of the 2013-2014 off-season traveling for show appearances and for sponsors. It seems like the new benchmark to achieve in professional fishing these days is to win multiple events in a single season. Winning a single event, even a world championship, is certainly big. But what seems to really get the media’s attention is winning multiple events in a season. Look at what Jason Christie did last year with his three major wins and then Brett Hite this year and the buzz that created.

Most people might think that just because you have won a big championship event like the Cup, you can just sort of kick back and rest on your laurels. But that’s not the case at all. It has kind of an opposite effect, in that it pushes you even harder. It’s not like, "Hey, I just won $500,000 so I can sleep in for practice for the next tournament." It’s more like, "I just won a tournament, so I’ve got to get to the next one and practice even harder than I did for the one I just won." Winning gives you a first-hand perspective of where the winning bar is set. Once you know where that is, it causes you to push yourself harder to stay above it.

Success breeds success, and nothing could be truer in the sport of pro fishing. The success of winning the Forrest Wood Cup has certainly helped propel me to more tournament success.

Q: So you mean to tell me you won $500,000 in the Forrest Wood Cup and you didn't splurge on anything for yourself?

A: OK, I might have afforded myself a small luxury in the form of a new Ranger Phantom flats skiff with an Evinrude E-TEC. I love that little boat. It’s light and so fuel efficient; great for stalking fish in super-shallow bays here in Florida, which is what I love to do. I just feel invisible in that thing.

 

A fishy distraction: As Randall Tharp works on his bass fishing tackle, his Ranger Phantom flats skiff beckons for a trip to the bay.

Q: You just used the word “stalking.” If I were to describe your fishing style, I would say you are a stalker – in a good way. You tend to stalk, almost hunt fish down, in shallow water, until you make them bite. Would you agree with that?

A: I guess. I mean I don’t exactly rip down the banks with 15 rods like Bryan Thrift, and I don’t read a meter like Brent Ehrler. So, yeah, I guess I feel most comfortable when I find shallow fish that are reluctant to bite to a point where fishing is considered tough. I like areas or patterns where getting just five or six bites a day is at a premium. I like it when a “flurry” is catching two 3 1/2-pounders in a 15-minute window and then there might not be another “flurry” for three hours. That kind of fishing requires a lot of persistence, dedication and focus while the clock is ticking.

Q: So you have now lived on the coast for a year stalking saltwater fish in your Ranger Phantom. How has that changed you as a fisherman?

A: Living at the coast has been a doubled-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a distraction to my bass fishing. Let’s just say I spend far less time working on bass tackle these days because I’m out on the bay chasing something. But on the other hand, the ocean is just an awesome, unforgiving place with a lot of big stuff that swims in it. It’s constantly changing – wind, tides, clarities, currents. No two days are exactly alike. And in that respect, it’s a great place to practice the instinctual side of my fishing – sharpening that sixth sense of finding fish. To me the ultimate reward in fishing comes from that feeling you get when you know you are around fish based on current conditions – the here and now – and then having that feeling about a particular action, size or color a bait needs to have to get the fish to react. And when a fish eats your stuff, verifying those ideas, it’s a very strong, rewarding experience, no matter what species you’re after. So in that respect the coast is a fantastic environment for that kind of fishing exercise, so to speak.  

Q: What does it mean to you to come into the Lake Murray event as the reigning Forrest Wood Cup Champion?

A: I mean, on one hand, it’s great. I’m the reigning champ. But once the green flag drops on Murray, it’s not like I get a head start or a few extra pounds in my livewell because I’m the previous champion. It all starts from zero, and being the previous champ offers no advantage. In those other guys' eyes, I’m just another guy they want to beat. Trust me, no one is going to get out of my way on the first day at Lake Murray just because I am the previous champion.

Q: Do you think you can win again and be the first back-to-back Forrest Wood Cup champion?

A: That’s kind of a tricky question. I’ve been down this road before, and it’s a slippery slope. Personally, I know exactly how I feel about the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray. But if I were to publicly say it and explain why I feel that way, I’d get called cocky and arrogant or whatever. It’s happened to me in other interviews, so there is no need to go there again.

Along those same lines, I will say this sport does fascinate me in that we have these things called tournaments, which are, by definition, a competition where there is only one winner – and I emphasize one winner. And we all enter these tournaments because each and every one of us thinks he can win. But if we publicly say we think we can win, then we are somehow cocky. I don’t really understand it. Maybe we should have a tournament where everyone is a winner, and then no one would run the risk of being cocky [laughing].

Q: I see on your refrigerator a quote from University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban that reads, “Mediocre people don’t like high achievers, and high achievers don’t like mediocre people.” Do you consider yourself a high achiever?

A: I simply like the way Nick Saban runs his football program. It’s a quote I heard him say on a national interview on 60 Minutes; that’s all it is. His quest for perfection is tireless, and as a competitor in bass tournaments I understand that.

Q: On your fence is a stuffed honey badger guarding a sign that reads "Jackals and Birds prohibited!!" Once and for all, can you please clarify the whole honey badger thing?

A: It was just a hilarious viral video on YouTube several years ago. The whole premise wasRandall Tharp having fun with his fishing moniker: The Honeybadger. this animal lives in the desert, one of the most hostile environments on Earth, and he is pretty much immune to all the adversity he encounters all day long. He almost welcomes adversity because, as the saying goes, "The honey badger don’t care." If he can only find some nasty larva to eat, he don’t care; the jackals and birds come around and try to steal his scraps, he don’t care; he gets bitten by a cobra, he don’t care. And basically the whole thing reminded me of fishing tournaments because so much of it is dealing with adversity. The wind is going to blow 25 mph, the water temperature is going to drop 15 degrees, a big bass is going to come off, there are going to be other people on your best spot when you get there, and I became immune to it all after watching that video like 100 times.

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being the Forrest Wood Cup champion and having a bird’s eye view of the sport from atop?

A: Well, probably it’s that tournament bass fishing is not exactly the center of the universe. In fact, it’s not even the center of the fishing universe. Don’t get me wrong, tournament bass fishing is my passion, my living, and I love it, like a lot of people who fish FLW. But I can tell you this: I’m a Forrest Wood Cup champion, and in the town I live in, the guy who brings in the biggest kingfish or cobia for the week is a bigger fishing hero than I am. Heck, in my mind, the guy who brings in a boatload of fresh oysters for the local oyster bar is the real fishing hero! Down here there are commercial fishermen, offshore fishermen, inshore fishermen, kayak fishermen, guys who only fish for tarpon with a fly rod – so many different versions of fishing that are just as important to those guys as bass fishing is to me. Being a Forrest Wood Cup champion and living in a fishing town on the coast of Florida have both given me a lot of perspective of where our sport falls in the bigger picture of fishing itself. And at the end of the day, fishing is what you want it to be. It’s how you want to pursue it. It’s what you make of it. No matter if you’re catching bream on crickets, fishing in a $500,000 championship or tonging up a bushel of oysters – being on the water pursuing something that totally fires you up is what it’s all about. And that’s going to be happening in just a few days on Lake Murray, and I can’t wait.

 

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-08-28-planned-power-outage-in-ky-office

Planned Power Outage in KY Office

A planned power outage is in effect around the Benton, Ky., area causing phone lines and internet to be temporarily unavailable. It should last until roughly 5 p.m. CT. Do not call the help line or try to register online during this time. Instead, if you'd like to sign up for an event call the tournament director for the particluar tournament you'd like to fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/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/2015-06-27-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 »