The general consensus going into the Forrest Wood Cup was that it would take an average of about 12 pounds per day to take home the title.
Judging by Thursday’s first-day results on the Red River, it could take more than that.
Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., grabbed the lead with a five-fish limit weighing 18 pounds, 8 ounces. That was just one ounce more than second-place Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C.
Five other anglers went over the 12-pound mark — Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark. (13-5); Adrian Avena of Vineland, N.J. (13-2), Mark Rose of West Memphis, Ark. (12-15); Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, N.D. (12-8); and Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark. (12-7).
Paul Clark, the lone Louisiana angler in the pro division, had a tough day. He caught just three fish weighing 3-8 and is in 45th place. Clark, a ULM student, qualified by winning the college fishing national title.
Forty-six anglers are competing in the pro division for a first prize of $500,000 in what is deemed the world championship of bass fishing. Another 46 are competing in the co-angler division for $50,000.
Theo Corcoran of Kansas City, Mo., has a big lead in the co-angler division at 14-13. Alan Woodford of Winslow, Ind., is second at 10-0.
The tournament runs through Sunday. The field will be cut down to the top 20 after Day 2 and the top 10 after Day 3. The co-angler division wraps up today.
Competitors launch from Red River South Marina at 7 each morning. Weigh-ins each day are at 5 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center.
Tharp is coming off a good year on the FLW Tour with a 10th-place finish in the point standings. In 2011, he finished second in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita.
“Believe it or not, it started off pretty badly for me today,” Tharp said in a release on the FLW website. “I had been catching them really quick in practice, but today I didn’t put my first fish in the boat until 10:30 a.m. But, from 10:30 until 2 p.m., it was pretty special. Once they started biting I caught a limit fairly quick. Then I was able to fish this one little area, and was able to put the smack down on some good ones.”
Thrift has been on the FLW Tour seven years and qualified for the Cup every year. He had back-to-back runner-up finishes on the Tour this year at Lake Eufaula and Grand Lake.
He has finished in the top 10 in the Forrest Wood Cup four times.