A great week all around in Ridgeland, Mississippi last week as the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open drew professional and amateur anglers from all over the country to Mississippi for great fishing, delicious food, and good old Southern hospitality
Bassmaster touring pro Randall Tharp was on point all week at the Central Open.
The pro from Port St. Joe, Florida caught his limit each day, as he seemed to find the right formula when other pro seemed to struggle in the trick conditions of Ross Barnett Reservoir.
“Ninety percent of my fish this week came on a 1/2-ounce Randall Tharp Signature Series 4 x 4 Jig, and almost all of my big fish came from around isolated docks,” Tharp said. “I weighed in two fish on an Alabama rig off the riprap and I weighed in one fish on a Chatterbait.”
Tharp led after day one and took the momentum into day two when a fog delay started the day and caused some uncertainties. It turned out, afternoons were Tharp’s best friends.
“It was slow in the morning and I just put my trolling motor down and didn’t pick it up until I got five fish. There was a small window (of action) from about 11 to 12 o’clock.”
Tharp took home quite a haul from winning this title.
A Triton 19XS/Mercury 200 Pro XS package worth $40,000 and cash. Over the three days of competition, Tharp caught 41-15. More importantly to Tharp, he secured a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and took the Bassmaster Central Opens point standings title.
Tharp edged Hot Springs, Arkansas, pro Stephen Browning. Browning had a huge Sunday as he caught 16 pounds, 14 ounces of bass to vault from 10th place into the hot seat until Tharp arrived.
Browning, who had won a Bassmaster Open title earlier this season felt he had nothing to lose and got creative on the last day of competition. Browning fished the brush piles and some of the stumps in the sloughs of Ross Barnett Reservoir.
Will Major of Port Allen, Louisiana won the non-boater division and the top prize of a Skeeter T2X 170 with Yamaha F115LA valued at $25,000. The 66-year-old Major relied on a white Zoom Horny Toad to catch most of his seven fish. Major also received a Livingston Lures gift pack valued at $250.00.
The Bassmaster Central Open had 148 boats entered, and riding on each was a pro and a co-angler.
It’s a big undertaking to hold a Bassmaster Open event, and Ridgeland Tourism and all of its partners worked tireless not only to bring this event to Ridgeland, but to make sure it went off without a hitch and all the anglers had a great time.
Based on early estimates, the city is seeing an economic impact of almost $100,000 from the week-long event. Along with that, the city gained valuable experience and saw what it takes to host an event of this magnitude. Look for more events like Bassmaster Opens to line up to come to Ridgeland.
Chris Boews, Sr. Tournament Manager at B.A.S.S., the organization that puts Bassmaster events on says there are certain requirements needed to put on a Bassmaster Open, and Ridgeland has it all.
“We need to have a fishery, a fishery available that has a decent population of bass. We also need to have the infrastructure and the size and space we need to accommodate a 150-200 boat field. We have all of that in Ridgeland.”
That and dozens of chain and local restaurants, beautiful hotels and enough shopping to fill all of your free time,
Prior to this year’s event, the Bassmasters hadn’t been held in Ridgeland and at Ross Barnett Reservoir since 1998. 15 years is a long time for the people of Ridgeland and the Jackson area of Mississippi to wait for an event of this stature. I’m betting it doesn’t take that long for the next one.
Ridgeland has a lot to offer, check out www.visitridgeland.com.
Rick Limpert was onsite cover the Bassmaster Central Open all week. He is based in Atlanta and covers events, sports, and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @RickRoswell.