Tharp Continues to Lead FLW Tour Bass Fishing Tournament on Lake Okeechobee

Okeechobee bass fishing tournament leader

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Weather continued to play a factor for anglers on Lake Okeechobee on Saturday. A front blew through and brought with it cooler temperatures, cloudy skies and winds that howled with gusts up to 25 to 30 miles per hour. Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., has endured the changing weather during the bass fishing tournament and led the first two days of competition with sacks each day that weighed more than 30 pounds. He voiced concern Friday that he might have an “off” day where he would be unable to maintain that catch weight.

Tharp’s prediction came true Saturday, but he still managed a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces to hold his lead at the FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee and advanced to the top 10 as the crucial No. 1 seed. With a three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 78-10, he now holds an 8-pound, 13-ounce lead in the tournament going into the final day of competition.

“It was a struggle today,” said Tharp, who claimed the runner-up spot at the 2011 FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. “Really, I had the bites to put the tournament out of reach, but I had a bad day. I broke a couple off today, and I think one was in the 10-pound class. I worked really hard and I had four big bites today and I caught two of them.”

Tharp said he’s sticking with the technique that’s earned him the lead for three days now – flipping a bait with a 1 ½-ounce weight into thick vegetation. He’s fishing for big bites, not numbers, and that could make for an interesting final day where the forecast calls for cold temperatures and more wind.

“I can’t worry about the other guys, because I can’t control what they do,” Tharp said. “I have to go out there and do my job. I’m going to have a couple of flipping sticks out and fish for one fish at a time, and hopefully I’ll get five bites. There’s going to be a wind chill of 25 (degrees) and high winds tomorrow, so I’m not anticipating setting the world on fire. But I’m doing the right things for those conditions.”

John Cox of Debary, Fla., advanced to the final round of 10 pros in the No. 2 spot with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 69-13.

Rounding out the top 10 pros and advancing to the final day of competition are:
3rd: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., 14 bass, 61-2
4th: Jeremy York, Monroe, Ga., 15 bass, 60-13
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 58-0
6th: Roland Martin, Naples, Fla., 14 bass, 55-10
7th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 14 bass, 55-3
8th: Nick Gainey, Charleston, S.C., 15 bass, 54-5
9th: Art Ferguson III, St. Clair Shores, Mich., 15 bass, 53-1
10th: Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala., 14 bass, 52-9

Finishing in 11th through 20th are:
11th: J. Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga., 14 bass, 50-6, $12,500
12th: Chad Prough, Chipley, Fla., 14 bass, 47-0, $12,500
13th: Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore., 15 bass, 45-13, $12,500
14th: Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., 15 bass, 45-3, $12,500
15th: Brandon Medlock, Lake Placid, Fla., 15 bass, 44-7, $12,500
16th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., 14 bass, 42-3, $12,000
17th: Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla., 12 bass, 42-1, $12,000
18th: Bob Izumi, Milton, Ontario, 15 bass, 39-9, $12,000
19th: Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., 13 bass, 39-3, $12,000
20th: Jeff Gustafson, Keewatin, Ontario, 12 bass, 37-5, $12,000

Overall there were 85 bass weighing 222 pounds, 7 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.

Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The top five anglers in the point standings from the four FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 44 pounds, 4 ounces followed by Spiro Agouros of Peterborough, Ontario, in second place with 13 bass weighing 38-0 worth $7,625.

“I just got to work today and that’s all there is to it,” said Wilcox, who said he relied on Gambler jigs tipped with beaver-style soft plastics for the majority of his fish during the event. “I was paired with some really great pros and want to thank them for putting me on the fish.”

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are:
3rd: Jason Counsil, Casselberry, Fla., 13 bass, 34-8, $5,000
4th: Ralph Mulleins, Cumberland, Va., 15 bass, 33-5, $4,000
5th: Larry Hostetler, Floyds Knobs, Ind., 15 bass, 33-2, $3,000
6th: Shannon Schiner, Pompano Beach, Fla., 13 bass, 31-3, $2,500
7th: Marlon Crowder, Tampa, Fla., 10 bass, 29-10, $2,000
8th: Timothy Dearing, Loudon, Tenn., 12 bass, 27-10, $1,800
9th: Rod Lambirth, Odessa, Texas, 11 bass, 26-0, $1,700
10th: Theo Corcoran, Waterford, Mich., 11 bass, 25-13, $1,600

Overall there were 50 bass weighing 93 pounds, 4 ounces caught by co-anglers Saturday. The catch included four five-bass limits.

Co-anglers were fishing for a top award of up to $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The top five co-anglers in the point standings from the four FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

The top 10 pros will take off at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning from the Clewiston Boat Basin. Sunday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 1005 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston beginning at 4 p.m.

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