As the Day One leader, Randall Tharp has apparently attracted quite a few observers today. He didn't seem worried about that possibility during Friday evening's press conference. "The way these fish are positioned and the way I'm fishing, I don't feel like crowds will be a concern for me," Tharp said.
Almost immediately after landing his last keeper, Tharp hooked up again, but it was short and he released it without fanfare. A few minutes later he brought another fish to the boat, one he didn't have to measure. "They're getting bigger," he said. He's getting bit consistently, but we haven't seen any of the handful of locals fishing nearby hook up. He's got something going on.
As a camera boat approached to hop in the boat with him, Tharp hooked up again and deftly played another keeper to the boat. It wasn't big, but that's three. He seems remarkably calm, talking to the camera, feeding off the crowd, working toward a limit.
Boom goes the bass. Fred "Boom Boom" Roumbanis just put a nice keeper in the boat. I'm about 75 yards away from him, but I'm calling it a 3- to 3 1/2-pounder.
We've talked a lot about spectator traffic and local angling pressure, but the fans watching Fred Roumbanis are keeping a respectful distance this morning. There are 25 boats watching Boom Boom now, and the closest boat to him is probably 60 yards distant. I'm told by one spectator that there was a local angler on this spot when Roumbanis arrived, but that angler yielded the spot upon Roumbanis' arrival. Photo: Seigo Saito
Tharp is switching among a group of moving baits, working them through the grass and occasionally having to rip it free. On the ride up, we dodged a fair amount of floating debris and uprooted grass -- likely the result of Thursday night's storms -- but the water here is relatively clear and free of stuff on the surface. He just shed his jacket -- getting serious now.
The three Japanese anglers in the Bassmaster Classic had plenty of support at takeoff this morning. Huge flags and loud cheers greeted them as they left City Harbor.
David Walker started Saturday in third place with 24-13. He's making a roughly 30-mile run up the lake and fishing a rotation of several spots. He said just prior to this morning's launch that the long run likely helped to reduce the spectator boat traffic Friday. "That probably helped," Walker said. "I noticed all of that traffic when I came back down the lake yesterday afternoon. I only had a couple up there. It was much more manageable. But I wasn't in contention yesterday, either."
After a long, cold ride up the lake, we found the Randall Tharp show. Wasn't hard — there are at least 50 boats here. We were told that he already has one in the box that he had to measure, but as we idled toward him he hooked up again. After landing it from the driver's seat he let out a yell and the assembled masses responded in kind. Two down, three to go.