EUFAULA, Ala. – Randall Tharp hopped out of his truck after a 13th-place finish in the Qualifying Rounds of REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage ready to head home and have a cold adult beverage. The Honey Badger needed something to look forward to after another long day of banging his head against a wall fishing shallow in the chilly waters of Lake Eufaula.
“Going out there in this cold water and trying to find numbers of fish is a challenge for me right now,” Tharp expressed. “The way I’m fishing right now is searching for big bites and that’s the way I want to fish, but it’s not the most effective right now. I’m holding out hope it can be, though.”
After what he felt like was a good day of practice on Sunday, Tharp was confident that he would be able to spend his tournament shallow in search of prespawn largemouth. Unfortunately for Tharp, those big fish he’s in search of haven’t quite made their way towards the shore in bunches.
Still, the Florida pro has been able to swim a jig in less than a foot of water and has come away with eight bass for 27 pounds through his first two days – good enough to get him through to the Knockout Rounds. Tharp is a big fan of the warmer weather and sunshine that’s rolled into southeast Alabama after a week of frigid temperatures. He’s holding out hope that with more sun and rising temperatures in the forecast his shallow-water strategy is about to pay off in a big way.
“We’ve had two 70-plus degree days with the sun shining, I’m betting that these fish are coming to the bank,” Tharp predicted. “I’m fishing right now where I think these fish are about to be. This tournament can be won on the bank, I just need this weather to warm up that water. If it warms up a few degrees, I really like my chances.”
Tharp knows what it takes to win on a lake dubbed “The Big Bass Capital of the World.” Back in 2008, the Honey Badger grabbed a win on Eufaula in a Stren Series event and claims he’s fished just about every inch of water in the more than 45,000-acre reservoir.
The Ark pro will have an off day on Wednesday as he prepares for Knockout Round 2 on Thursday when his weight total will reset back to zero. He hopes that the extra day of rest will give his shallow water an extra 24 hours of warmth to invite those big largemouth to the bank.
“I’m really thankful that I have an off day tomorrow so that water can warm up even more before I get out there on Thursday,” Tharp explained. “I can tell these fish want to come up shallow. We’re so close to the time where it’s really going to get good, I’m just hoping I’m there to catch it.”