Randall Tharp weighs the positives and negatives of being stubborn while competing on the Bass Pro Tour. Photo by Phoenix Moore

I’m stubborn. I’m really stubborn. As a professional bass angler, stubbornness can be your best friend, or it can be your worst enemy.

I’ve won a lot of money over the years being stubborn and fishing how I like to fish. Everyone who knows me knows that I love to put a flipping stick in my hand, run the bank, and just fish what’s in front of me. I was quoted in an article before the first MLF Bass Pro Tour season started, saying that I wasn’t going to change how I fished on this new tour.

In all honesty, I had no idea what I was getting myself into since I’d never fished a format where every scoreable fish counted. Well, after eight regular-season events, two Cup events, and a championship, I learned that being stubborn and fishing how I like to fish doesn’t always pay off. 

I’ve had to learn how to target different schools of fish. I still start fishing the way I like to, but now if it’s not generating enough bites to compete, I change. 

The pace is incredibly fast on the Bass Pro Tour. The old way of fishing tournaments doesn’t compare.

In the old format, where your goal is to come in at the end of the day with the five biggest fish you can find, you can have seven hours of terrible fishing and then salvage your day in 10 minutes. I’ve seen it happen too many times to count. But that doesn’t happen here. On this tour, you have to be your best as soon as lines are in the water. You can still have small flurries that boost you up the SCORETRACKER®, but you definitely can’t have seven hours of downtime.

Things I’m Learning

The Bass Pro Tour has forced me to become better at pattern fishing, and to understand not only the general idea of where fish will be during the time of year we’re fishing, but all sorts of subtle things that help me catch more fish that I may have overlooked before.

To be successful here, you have to perform at peak levels every minute. Nobody hits a hole-in-one every time they golf. You’ll have off days, of course, but you have to stay in it all day.

I remember there were times in the old format of tournament fishing you could catch the weight you needed, take the rest of the day off and go explore, or head to the dock, order a pizza, and take a nap. Those days are gone. 

The pressure is on all day. It’s an addictive feeling and I love it. Oh, I’m still stubborn, but I’m willing to learn and become a better angler, and thanks to the Bass Pro Tour format, I have done and I am doing both.