The 2016 FLW Tour campaign was a bittersweet one for Redding, Ca., co-angler Gary Haraguchi. He had a phenomenal season, but wound up finishing second in the Co-angler of the Year race to Bryan New, who is without question one of the best from the back of the boat.
In just his fourth season fishing the Tour, Haraguchi has become known as someone who is always smiling and loving life, no matter how his day of fishing went. Inside his relaxed demeanor, a fire burned and Haraguchi set out on a mission to win COY in 2017 after coming up short the previous year. With a 22nd place finish this week on the Potomac River, the California co-angler shut the door on his goal – and with it comes a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp Evinrude.
“Coming in second last year [in the COY points] was kind of tough,” says Haraguchi. “I never said anything to anyone, but I set a goal for myself to try and win the title this year and it was an awesome season. I had a really blessed year.”
The season got off on the right foot for Haraguchi after he escaped a tough Lake Guntersville with a 23rd-place showing. From there, he made the top 10 on Travis, a top 20 on Cumberland and another top 10 on Beaver. His other two finishes were 40th and 22nd. He cashed a check in every event this season. Basically, he crushed it.
“For me personally, this was a tough year,” he continues. “In practice I wouldn’t get many bites and it would leave me thinking that the tournament couldn’t go well. Luckily, I got fortunate and wound up catching them during the tournament. But overall it was still a tough year.”
Despite having marginal luck in practice, leaving him leery of the tournament, Haraguchi kept a laid-back approach to each event and it paid off.
“I really just fished off the seat of my pants this year,” he adds. “I never ask what my pro is doing when we get the pairings because I like to decide how I’m going to fish when we pull up to the first spot.
“Cumberland was a great example. I never threw a crankbait during practice but during the tournament I caught all my fish on one. I had that situation happen a lot this year and it pays to keep an open mind.”
While Haraguchi credits a wide variety of baits to his success this season, a special shout out goes to the Yamamoto Senko. The thing is a fish-catching machine and he says you’ve got to throw one when things get tough.
Haraguchi knows that catching fish is only part of winning a COY. Support off the water can be just as vital as your abilities on the lake.
“I travel with a great group of guys,” says Haraguchi. “I practice and travel with Jimmy Reese and I wouldn’t be here without him. We also travel with Billy Hines and Chuck Kavros. They are a good group of guys and it’s been a really fun year.