The main purpose of Randall Tharp’s trip to China was to work on his signature line of rods with the manufacturer. As the first American bass pro to fish there, he was surprised to see how many Chinese have been hit hard by the bass bug.
“The coolest thing for me was getting to fish,” Tharp said. “I got to meet this group of guys, basically like a bass club, and it was one of the better lakes in the entire country. They followed me around, filmed me for a couple days. They were just fascinated. I think I showed them some things they’ve never seen before.”
Editor's note: See China photos.
Tharp made the trip halfway around the world with wife, Sara, to visit ARK Fishing International facilities in Weihai. He used the company’s rods last year and was putting his designs and name on 14 models, which they hope to debut at the Bassmaster Classic Expo.
“The trip was a lot more than that for us,” Tharp said. “We were there for nine days, went to like four different cities. It was pretty awesome.”
Seeing ancient history like the Forbidden City, built in the 1500s, awed the Tharps, as much as climbing to one of the highest points of the Great Wall (construction began around 771 B.C.) exhausted them. But Tharp got excited when he spoke of the passion among the Chinese anglers he met.
“The coolest thing is seeing what those guys go through to go bass fishing,” he said, “and their quest for knowledge and trying to becoming better anglers.
“I went to dinner with this group of guys for two nights, and none of them spoke a lick of English, but we had a translator. We basically never went to sleep for about two nights. Those guys just quizzed me from dinner until the sun came up the next morning.”
Tharp said they all had very smart, well-educated questions that mined his fishing knowledge. While there are not a lot of freshwater lakes and only a few with bass, bass fishing and stocking programs are growing in the country of 1.379 billion people.