Tharp can afford to add a mantle to his house to show off the hardware. He and his wife are re-modeling, and once back in Florida, they may have to spend a few nights in a motorhome. Tharp probably won’t care where he sleeps, if he can. It may take a few days for reality and his victory to settle in.
The anglers in the championship event were thrown a curve ball with a sudden change in the weather. In practice, the day temperatures were in the mid- to upper-90s. After a cool front hit the Shreveport, La., area, air and water temperatures took a tumble. While the cooler air was welcomed by the anglers, the bass in the Red River made their move.
Tharp said during practice he got 40 to 50 bites a day. On the final day of competition, he had only seven. However, he made those seven bites count by bringing in a limit of five bass tipping the scales at 14 pounds. Tharp held off a hard charging Jacob Wheeler to win by more than four pounds.
The first day it appeared it was going to be a two man horse race with Tharp and South Carolina pro Bryan Thrift both over the 18-pound mark. The third-place angler was back by around five pounds. However, the stingy Red held back and the two leaders managed only around 11 pounds each on day two.
On day three, Tharp managed only a 10-pound sack but moved in the lead over Thrift by a few ounces. By the final day, Tharp made the right decision holding in is main area and picked up a frog. On his first cast with a Spro Bronzeye frog he boated a 3 1/2-pound bass. Tharp was able to increase his weight with a couple more bass from the frog.
The young pro Wheeler made an outstanding effort to finish in the No. 2 spot. He went wire-to-wire last year on Lake Lanier in Georgia to capture the Cup. This year Wheeler was in 40th spot after day one. After his girlfriend poked a little fun at him, Wheeler got serious moving into the top 20 and then the top 10 for the final day.
The Cup victory for Tharp is long overdue. He finished a close second behind Scott Martin in 2011. With only six events over five months, an angler has to be consistent to make it to the Cup. Tharp has proven he is a true champion. An interesting note is there has never been a repeat winner for the FLW Cup in its 17-year history. Could Tharp be the first to break the record?
A tip of the hat to co-angler Richard Peek of Centre. He fished from the back of the boat for two days to take 10th place in the co-angler division at the Cup event and around $4,500 pocket change. Look for Peek next year on the pro side.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com