Randal Tharp Announces Transition from MLF to Bassmaster Opens
11.17.23 – Professional angler Randall Tharp, an esteemed veteran of the fishing industry, has recently made a significant decision regarding his competition plans for the upcoming season. Tharp has announced his departure from the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour and his intention to fish the Bassmaster Opens as an EQ angler in order to requalify for the highly coveted Elite Series and potentially make a triumphant return to a Bassmaster Classic.
Tharp, who has been a prominent figure in professional fishing for 14 years, boasts an impressive track record filled with numerous accomplishments and tournament victories. Throughout his esteemed career, he has secured multiple championship qualifications, including five Forest Wood Cups, five Bassmaster Classics, and four Red Crest appearances. Additionally, he has successfully claimed a spot in every Heavy Hitters event hosted by Major League Fishing since its inception.
With a keen focus on building strong relationships within the fishing industry, Tharp has a deep commitment to representing his valued sponsors, such as ARC Bass Boat Technologies, Yamaha Outboards, Phoenix Boats, and other companies he has been collaborating with throughout his career. Tharp’s decision to transition to the Bassmaster Opens was not simply influenced by a preference for five-fish-limit tournaments or the scoring format; instead, it primarily revolves around how he can best support and promote these partner brands.
Unhappiness on the MLF Bass Pro Tour has been brewing within Tharp for several years, with one of the main issues being the lack of consistency in the tournament format. Over the years, the format has been altered multiple times, occasionally even during events, which Tharp finds unacceptable. Furthermore, Tharp has grown increasingly frustrated with the enforcement, or lack thereof, of rules in MLF tournaments. Witnessing these issues firsthand, he no longer wishes to be associated with them.
Another factor contributing to Tharp’s decision is the excessive idle time experienced during MLF Bass Pro Tour events. With events spanning nearly two weeks, there have been instances where Tharp has spent several days in a rental house without fishing. As a passionate angler, Tharp’s priority is to spend his time on the water, especially considering his limited number of competing years ahead. Therefore, he sees transitioning to the Bassmaster Opens as an opportunity to fish each day of a tournament, reigniting his love for the sport while maximizing his valuable time.
Regrettably, Tharp does not possess a “Legends exemption” that would grant him direct entry into Bassmaster Elite Series events. Consequently, he has chosen to fish all nine Bassmaster Opens next year, where winning an event guarantees an invitation to the prestigious Bassmaster Classic. Although his immediate goal is to secure a Classic berth, Tharp remains open to potentially qualifying for the Elite Series through the points system.
Looking forward to the upcoming season, Tharp is eager to compete once again in a five-fish-limit tournament with a weigh-in. He sorely misses the connection with fans on the stage and the camaraderie shared during the weigh-in process. Having fished his last Bass Pro Tour event in early 2023, Tharp believes that a return to the Bassmaster Opens will bring him a renewed sense of excitement and appreciation for this traditional format.
Tharp’s decision to transition to the Bassmaster Opens aligns with the evolving landscape of professional fishing. While the sport continues to change, Tharp remains steadfast in his commitment to competition and looks forward to reconnecting with old friends from the Bass Pro Tour, as well as forging new relationships with fellow anglers in the Bassmaster Opens.