As the field for the Forrest Wood Cup gathered Tuesday afternoon under a picnic shelter at Dreher Island State Park following the conclusion of official practice, some thunder boomed overhead as a brief storm system passed through.
While some flinched at the claps of thunder, Randall Tharp was calm, composed and quietly confident, anxiously awaiting his chance to defend his Cup victory.
"I spent 2 days here before the cutoff and halfway through the second day I found a little area that I felt like had winning potential and I've obviously checked that area and I didn't practice much since then," he said with a sheepish grin.
His practice at the Red River was almost the same story – he'd found an area with a lot of potential earlier in the spring and when the Cup came around on the schedule, he got dialed in and rode it all the way to the win. It's hard to ignore the similarities in his demeanor this week compared to last August in Shreveport, La.
"I expanded on it a little bit and I never saw another boat the whole time I was here," he added. "I like my chances. I'm not interested in finishing 2nd or 3rd. I'm trying to fish to my strengths and what's going to give me my best chance to win.
"Championship events, these are the ones you want to win. I get emotions at tournaments like this that I don't get at any other ones. The half million dollars probably has something to do with it, but I didn't come here to finish 2nd."
Who said pro anglers aren't willing to help each other out when the chips are down and $500,000 is on the line?
On Monday morning, Tom Monsoor said he came across Mark Rose on the water at Lake Murray. Rose was frustrated that he'd just missed a good fish. Monsoor took a moment to help him understand possibly why.
"I said, 'Throw me your lure,'" Monsoor said. "He cut the lure off and the hook slid down my thumbnail. I said, 'Mark, that's embarrassing.' I grabbed the hook sharpener and said, 'This is how you sharpen a hook the right way. You go with the grain.'
"I showed him everything. It took not even a second and the hook stuck on my thumb as soon as I touched it. It didn't slide. He goes, 'Wow, I've been doing that wrong all of my life.'"
Rose confirmed Monsoor's account, adding, "I guess I've been doing it wrong for 30 years. I usually sharpen it out toward the point. He comes in from the point. The thing was like a needle when he gave it back to me. I think a lot of it had to do with his sharpener."