EverStart pro Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., crossed the stage with a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces for a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 29-11 to maintain the lead for the second consecutive day. Tharp holds a 4-ounce lead over Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., who weighed five bass weighing 11-0 for a two-day total of 10 bass for 29-7.
"I started out today in a different area that I didn't fish in yesterday," said Tharp, who is seeking his first Tour-level win outside of the state of Florida. "I caught two decent fish right away and it really settled me down. It wasn't fast and furious, but I had my limit today by 9:15 a.m., and it was pretty close to what I weighed in today.
"I really struggled from 11:30 on," Tharp continued. "I culled twice this afternoon, but I only caught nine keeper fish throughout the day. I did see some good fish, though, and I had some good fish roll on my bait that I know will be there for me tomorrow."
Tharp said that he fished around 10 different areas in Pool No. 5 throughout the day on Friday, and that he was fishing some of the same water as 3M Scotch Tape & Peltor Brands pro Ray Scheide.
"I've still got a bunch of good areas that I have not fished in this tournament," said Tharp. "But, a lot of them are on the river. Fishing the river is like rolling the dice and trying to get a big bite. You can catch 50 bass and not get a big bite, and then pull up to a new spot and find a big one. There's no rhyme or reason to it. I feel like this tournament is going to be won in the backwaters, and that's where I need to stay to get those big bites.
"There are still two days to go, and 11 pounds a day won't win this tournament," Tharp continued. "I'll need at least one more day in the teens to get this thing done."
The top 20 pros that will continue to Saturday's competition are:
1st: EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Port St. Joe, Fla., 10 bass, 29-11
2nd: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 29-7
3rd: Chevy pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 10 bass, 27-9
4th: 3M Scotch Tape & Peltor Brands pro Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark., 10 bass, 25-3
5th: Walmart pro Mark Rose, West Memphis, Ark., 10 bass, 24-13
6th: Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, Wis., 10 bass, 24-11
7th: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 10 bass, 23-15
8th:Robbie Dodson, Harrison, Ark., 10 bass, 23-7
9th: Mark Daniels Jr., Fairfield, Calif., 10 bass, 23-2
10th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 23-0