OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Pro Travis Harriman of Huntsville, Arkansas, only brought one bass weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces to the scale Saturday, but it was still enough to hang on to the lead and win the third and final event in the Toyota Series Plains Division – the Toyota Series at Lake of the Ozarks Presented by FVP and earn the top payout of $45,000.
“I’m in disbelief,” Harriman said. “When I checked in I thought for sure the writing was on the wall. I thought there was no shot one bass would bring it home.
“They say when it’s your time, it’s your time. Today is truly a testament of it. Thank the Lord above I got the one right bite that I needed.”
It truly was a dramatic week for Harriman from the start.
Initially, he just came into the event hoping to secure a berth into the Toyota Series Championship on his home waters of Table Rock Lake. Then he located an area of docks up the Niangua arm of the lake that had a significant amount of bait on them that seemed to change everything.
First thing in the morning he’d hit some deeper docks, which produced a 5-pound bite within minutes each of the first two mornings. Then he’d run some shallower docks where he noticed shad were flicking and bluegill were roaming around.
Around the deeper docks, he went with a 3/4-ounce Jewel Football Jig (green pumpkin purple flash) and a Strike King Rage Scounbug trailer. Up shallow, it was a 1/2-ounce Jewel J-Lock Flip’N’ Jig in the same color with the same trailer. Both were tossed on 7-foot VIRTUS|Jewel Red Diamond rods, going with the flip/pitch model for the football jig and the Titan model for the J-Lock. He said the rod choice was key to be able to skip his jig to “where the sun don’t ever shine.” To get his fish out from the darkest recesses, he used 25-pound Strike King Tour Grade Fluorocarbon.
Considering his fast starts meant he barely touched all his good stuff, he was more than pumped to “burn it all down” on the final morning. Problem is, local anglers got there first, as he said almost all his initial starting docks had people fishing them first thing this morning.
“That really got me off my rotation,” Harriman said. “I ended up going shallow a lot earlier than I had been, and I figured I’d have plenty of time to catch a limit.”
An entire day of fishing later, he’d only had two bites, and he lost the first one. That fish, for sure, was one he felt would haunt him.
“I was kicking myself over that lost fish,” Harriman said. “I’d fished clean all week long. You’re not supposed get them all out from under docks, but I had up until that one. I thought that one was going to cost me.
“What do you say? I’m glad it didn’t.”
The Top 10 pros on Lake of the Ozarks finished:
1st: Travis Harriman, Huntsville, Ark., 15 bass, 42-12, $40,000
2nd: Cody Huff, Ava, Mo., 15 bass, 41-14, $15,500
3rd: Joe Grafeman, Camdenton, Mo., 15 bass, 41-14, $13,200 (includes $1,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
4th: Jim Stamper, Montreal, Mo., 15 bass, 41-4, $10,000
5th: Kirk Smith, Edmond, Okla., 15 bass, 40-11, $9,000
6th: Adam Boehle, Warrenton, Mo., 15 bass, 40-7, $8,000
7th: Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 15 bass, 40-2, $7,000
8th: Corey Cook, Lebanon, Mo., 15 bass, 40-1, $6,000
9th: Michael Harlin, Sunrise Beach, Mo., 15 bass, 39-7, $5,000
10th: Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 12 bass, 37-13, $4,500
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
On Thursday, pro Brad Jelinek earned the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division with a bass weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces. On Friday pro Cody Spetz earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize with a largemouth weighing in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces.
Scott Parsons of Rogers, Arkansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 13 bass weighing 28 pounds, 12 ounces. Parsons took home the top co-angler prize package worth $33,500, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Lake of the Ozarks finished:
1st: Scott Parsons, Rogers, Ark., 13 bass, 28-12, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Brian Lopp, Springfield, Ill., 14 bass, 27-4, $5,000
3rd: Anthony Scoma, Spring Hill, Kan., 11 bass, 24-6, $4,000
4th: Sakae Ushio, Tonawanda, N.Y., 10 bass, 22-7, $3,500
5th: Justin Layton, Kirbyville, Mo., 11 bass, 21-9, $3,000
6th: Nycholas Swanson, Cedar Falls, Iowa, nine bass, 21-2, $2,500
7th: Bill Ramsey, Huntsville, Ark., eight bass, 20-15, $2,150
8th: Mike Youngblood, St. Louis, Mo., nine bass, 20-9, $1,750
9th: Rick Dahlman, Mokena, Ill., eight bass, 20-7, $1,500
10th: Chris Bunk, Sullivan, Mo., nine bass, 18-14, $1,250
Pro Todd Mowery of Madison, Alabama, earned Thursday’s $150 Berkley Big Bass co-angler award after weighing in a 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth, while Friday’s Day 2 $150 co-angler award went to Bill Ramsey who weighed in a bass that totaled 5 pounds, 13 ounces.
With the three regular-season events in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division now complete, pro Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Illinois, was crowned the 2023 Plains Division Pro Angler of the Year (AOY) and earned the $5,000 AOY bonus with a total of 762 points. Alan Bernicky of Joliet, Illinois, won the 2023 Plains Division Strike King Co-angler AOY race and the $2,000 AOY bonus with 745 points.
The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Lake of the Ozarks Presented by FVP was hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association. It was the third and final regular-season event for the Toyota Series Plains Division. The next event for the Top 25 anglers in the Toyota Series Plains Division AOY standings will be the Toyota Series Championship at Table Rock Lake, Nov. 2-4, in Branson, Missouri. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern Division Presented by Rabid Baits, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the Top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2024. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, and is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Next Gen Lithium, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.