Randall Tharp hit the scales today with 11 pounds and 3 ounce for what he called, “an average day”. This brought his two day total to 29 pound and 11 ounces, giving him a 4 ounce lead over his closest competitor Bryan Thrift. Thrift also had an average day with just 11 pounds. The General, Larry Nixon, had a great day on the water and carried over 14 pounds of bass across the stage; closing the gap on the two leaders that had distanced they’re selves in the opening round by more than five pounds.
Yesterday Randall Tharp told me that he was going to a completely new area today. It was an area he fished in the Bassmaster Open this past spring. He hadn’t pre-fished the area but knows there are a lot of fish that live in there. Randall was excited to say, “I pulled up in that area this morning and caught a two and half pounder in first five minutes, which settled me down. My next bite was a 3 pounder and I caught a limit by 9:15. I left that area about 10.” Randall continued and explained that he didn’t catch near as many keepers today and was only able to cull two times for a few ounces.
When I talked to Randall yesterday he talked about fishing new water today, and how his pattern on day one required covering a lot of water. When I asked if he would be hitting yet another new area on day three he announced, “I’m going straight back to where I started today. I lost a good bass at the boat and had a couple quality fish roll on my frog that I didn’t touch. This little area has a lot of good fish in it and I’m going to catch a limit in there tomorrow.”
Even though Randall increased his lead he was not excited about his weight today. Randall somberly told reporters, “There are still two days to go, if I can catch 11 pounds tomorrow I’ll have a chance, but I need another day with a weight in the teens to win.”
Hot on Randall’s heals, or livewell if you will, is Bryan Thrift. Bryan claims he struggled a little bit today and had to really work to catch his eleven pounds. He went on to say, “I really had to scramble today to catch my bigger bass. I even ran into Pool 4.” Bryan said that he caught all his weigh fish in Pool 5 with a variety of baits, and the shakey head produced his biggest fish of the day again today.
Bryan described his catches for the day, “I caught my big one pretty early, about eight in the morning. Then I scrambled and finally went back to that area about 2 P.M. where I lost one about four pounds. I’ll be heading back there in the morning.” When asked whether he was fishing back waters or main river, Bryan explained that he had about fifteen spots he was rotating through, both main river and back waters. His “scrambling” efforts seem to be centered on two baits. The first being the Damiki Finesse Miki and the other a chatter bait. Catching his numbers on the chatter bait, and for two days in a row his kicker bass have come on the Shakey Head.
I asked Bryan what his game plan for tomorrow was going to be, he was unsure in his reply, “I’m thinking about running to Pool 3, but might wait until the last day to make that run. I’ve got one spot down there that has a bunch of bass on it, but I’m not sure about the quality down there though. If I make that run and only catch eight or nine pounds, there won’t be time for me to stop in on my quality areas. I’m just not sure what I’m going to do yet.”
When asked why he was considering such a change in game plan he quickly replied, “I’m going to need another big bag to win, Larry is consistent and Tharp is capable of kicking out another big bag.” I asked Bryan if he were to stay in Pool 5, would he change presentation to try and improve his quality, he rapidly replied, “I’m going to through a frog a little more.” Bryan was being bombarded for signatures so I finished up with one last question for him, and that was, with the weather stabile now and continuing to stay that way, will the fishing get better the next two days? He simply smiled and said, “I think it could.”
Both Randall and Bryan are watching the General slowly gain ground on them. Larry Nixon, AKA The General, brought a little over 14 pounds to the scales today and erased a big chunk of the lead they enjoyed on the opening round. Larry is known for being steady and consistent, and that puts Randall and Bryan on edge.
Larry told us about his first bass of the day which was also his biggest: “I caught that four to four and a half pounder first thing this morning. It was a rough start because it hung me up. I pulled and pulled, but he wouldn’t come loose. I didn’t want to have to go get it. At one point I considered breaking him off. But after a couple more pulls, I finally got him out. Boy I’m glad I didn’t go ahead and break that fish off.”
When asked how he improved his weight today from yesterday, he simply said, “I’m eliminating some things and trying to figure this out. I had one big bass and 3 little bitty ones at 12:30, but was able to cull in the afternoon.” Larry continued, “My morning deal is my main deal if I could ever get them to bite. But it’s been an afternoon thing for me the last two days.”
I asked Larry if maybe the post front issues had finally given way and the bass were just biting better, he shook his head in agreement and said, “The wind was still this morning, I thought it would be better than it was because the north wind was gone. But, there was no activity, no bait fish moving, not even birds. I don’t know, I may have it fished out. But you go back where 4 pounders are and I’m headed back in the morning.”
There’s what the top three anglers had to say after walking off the stage on the second day of the Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River. While the top three positions didn’t change, the separation between them did. To make it to the third day anglers had to make the top twenty cut. That cut line started at the current AOY Andy Morgan. Andy’s two day total is just short of 20 pounds. With two days of fishing left, it’s still any angler’s tournament to win. A stumble at the top and a big catch at the bottom and the leader board can completely flip in just one cast.
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