Randall Tharp Leads Day One at Bassmaster Classic

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2014 Bassmaster Classic Day On Leader Randall Tharp (Custom)

Randall Tharp Leads Day One of Bassmaster Classic – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Losing what he called “a really good fish” right off the bat, Randall Tharp’s Friday didn’t begin well.

But a few keepers later, Tharp began to roll straight toward the first-day lead of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro on Lake Guntersville.

“At about my fifth stop, I finally got into a little school and caught an 8 1/2 and a 5. From then on, it got pretty easy,” said the Floridian, who ended round one with 27 pounds, 8 ounces. “I caught fish at about every stop I made.”

Tharp’s huge haul of Lake Guntersville largemouth bass gave him the lead, but he didn’t stomp the field. He had 11 ounces on Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., who posted 26-13 for second place. Third place was taken by David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., with 24-13.

Fourth place was a tie at 23-2 between Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., and Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla. Roumbanis’ bag held the largest bass of the day, a 9-3. That Guntersville lunker positioned Roumbanis as the event’s frontrunner for the Carhartt Big Bass Award of up to $2,500 for the largest single catch.

B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Coby Carden of Shelby, Ala., nailed down sixth place with 22-4.

Tharp, who now lives in Port St. Joe, Fla., lived much of his life in Alabama near Lake Guntersville, and he considers it to be his home water. He’s won several events on the lake over the years, including a 2008 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Allstate.

Tharp, like all 55 Classic anglers, had to make adjustments Friday after a hard rain and wind hammered Lake Guntersville the night before.

“I think the rain hurt everybody,” he said. “This lake typically fishes better when it’s a little lower. It was high, with too much current today. Obviously it muddied a lot of water up. I could tell by the way the fish were biting. They were slapping at the bait.

“But as the day went on, they started eating the bait a little better,” Tharp said.

His key moment was hooking into the 8 1/2-pounder.

“When you catch a fish like that, that’s a lot of weight in one bite. You definitely need a bite like that every day here to win this tournament,” he said.

Tharp said he was switching up his lures, going in turn to a lipless crankbait, a jig, a crankbait and a jerkbait.

“I’m fishing specific places, extremely slowly to get the bite,” he said.

Tharp said he culled six or seven times to put together his 27-8.

Besides a fast start toward the Classic’s first prize of $300,000, Tharp pocketed the $1,000 GEICO Everyday Leader Award, plus another $1,500 if he had a GEICO decal on his boat’s windshield.

Like everyone, Evers had to adjust to the muddy water.

“It was a grind today,” Evers said. “It looks great on paper — 26-13 — but I really didn’t catch that many fish. I had the right ones, and I’m fortunate to be where I am.”

He predicted that the weights across the board will improve as the water clears.

Evers said he capitalized on bass moving up toward spawning beds. He caught two of his larger keepers on back-to-back casts, then on the next cast, he lost one.

“Then I went hours without a bite. You come across little pods of them. You just have to keep moving, roaming until you find them,” Evers said.

His largest bass was a 7-4. Evers said there are more where that one came from.

The full field will return to Lake Guntersville Saturday for the second day. Sunday, only the Top 25 will compete.

Fans can catch the Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Arena doors will open at 3 p.m. There’s no admission charge. Bassmaster.com will continue with wall-to-wall coverage, including live streaming of the weigh-ins. All online access is free.

To see the Classic competition on ESPN2, fans can tune into The Bassmasters on Saturday, March 1, at 10 a.m. ET, for the first hour of Classic coverage. The Classic finale show will air in prime time — 8 to 10 p.m. ET — on Sunday, March 2.

2014 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2014 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsors: Diet Mountain Dew, GoPro

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: Dick’s Sporting Goods

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Apparel Sponsor: Carhartt

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

2014 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic Presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro 2/21-2/23
Lake Guntersville, Birmingham, Ala.
(ANGLER) Standings Day 1

   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts

1.  Randall Tharp          Port Saint Joe, FL       5  27-08    0
Day 1: 5   27-08
2.  Edwin Evers            Talala, OK               5  26-13    0
Day 1: 5   26-13
3.  David Walker           Sevierville, TN          5  24-13    0
Day 1: 5   24-13
4.  Casey Ashley           Donalds, SC              5  23-02    0
Day 1: 5   23-02
4.  Fred Roumbanis         Bixby, OK                5  23-02    0
Day 1: 5   23-02
6.  Coby Carden            Shelby, AL               5  22-04    0
Day 1: 5   22-04
7.  Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  22-03    0
Day 1: 5   22-03
8.  Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ     5  20-14    0
Day 1: 5   20-14
9.  Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK              5  20-13    0
Day 1: 5   20-13
10. Jonathon VanDam        Kalamazoo, MI            5  20-11    0
Day 1: 5   20-11
11. Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN            5  20-10    0
Day 1: 5   20-10
12. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  20-03    0
Day 1: 5   20-03
12. Randy Howell           Springville, AL          5  20-03    0
Day 1: 5   20-03
14. Chad Morgenthaler      Coulterville, IL         5  19-05    0
Day 1: 5   19-05
15. David Kilgore          Jasper, AL               5  18-15    0
Day 1: 5   18-15
16. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                4  18-10    0
Day 1: 4   18-10
17. Ish Monroe             Hughson, CA              5  18-08    0
Day 1: 5   18-08
18. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS         5  17-11    0
Day 1: 5   17-11
19. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX               5  17-05    0
Day 1: 5   17-05
20. Rich Howes             Oviedo, FL               5  17-00    0
Day 1: 5   17-00
21. Terry Scroggins        San Mateo, FL            5  16-15    0
Day 1: 5   16-15
22. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL             5  16-13    0
Day 1: 5   16-13
23. Morizo Shimizu         Osaka JAPAN              5  16-11    0
Day 1: 5   16-11
24. Brandon Palaniuk       Hayden, ID               5  16-11    0
Day 1: 5   16-11
25. Chris Jones            Bokoshe, OK              5  16-10    0
Day 1: 5   16-10
26. Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               5  16-06    0
Day 1: 5   16-06
27. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI            5  16-02    0
Day 1: 5   16-02
28. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                5  15-10    0
Day 1: 5   15-10
29. Hank Cherry Jr         Maiden, NC               5  15-09    0
Day 1: 5   15-09
30. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ          4  15-09    0
Day 1: 4   15-09
31. Patrick Bone           Cleveland, GA            5  15-07    0
Day 1: 5   15-07
31. Alton Jones            Lorena, TX               5  15-07    0
Day 1: 5   15-07
31. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  15-07    0
Day 1: 5   15-07
34. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  15-05    0
Day 1: 5   15-05
35. Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA          4  15-04    0
Day 1: 4   15-04
36. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL         5  15-01    0
Day 1: 5   15-01
37. Adam Wagner            Cookeville, TN           5  14-14    0
Day 1: 5   14-14
38. Takahiro Omori         Emory, TX                5  14-12    0
Day 1: 5   14-12
39. John Murray            Phoenix, AZ              5  13-11    0
Day 1: 5   13-11
40. Jordan Lee             Vinemont, AL             4  13-07    0
Day 1: 4   13-07
41. Bobby Lane             Lakeland, FL             5  12-15    0
Day 1: 5   12-15
42. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ              5  12-13    0
Day 1: 5   12-13
43. Mark Dove              North Vernon, IN         5  12-08    0
Day 1: 5   12-08
44. Doug Thompson          Mabelvale, AR            4  12-07    0
Day 1: 4   12-07
45. Jeff Lugar             Mcgaheysville, VA        3  11-10    0
Day 1: 3   11-10
46. Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR            4  10-00    0
Day 1: 4   10-00
47. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            3  09-10    0
Day 1: 3   09-10
47. Chris Zaldain          San Jose, CA             3  09-10    0
Day 1: 3   09-10
49. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA               2  07-12    0
Day 1: 2   07-12
50. Timothy Johnston       Kalispell , MT           2  07-10    0
Day 1: 2   07-10
51. Cliff Crochet          Pierre Part, LA          2  07-05    0
Day 1: 2   07-05
52. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               2  07-04    0
Day 1: 2   07-04
53. Gary Klein             Weatherford, TX          1  04-06    0
Day 1: 1   04-06
54. Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR          1  03-12    0
Day 1: 1   03-12
55. Gerald Swindle         Warrior, AL              1  02-01    0
Day 1: 1   02-01
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        39       239       863-15
———————————-
39       239       863-15