KINGSTON, Okla. – Inclement weather and strong winds in excess of 30 mph swept across the nation the past several days, forcing tournament cancelations and delays state-wide across several Major League Fishing (MLF) circuits, including the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at Lake Texoma Presented by Outlaw Ordnance. Originally scheduled as a three-day tournament, the first two days of the event were canceled by tournament officials due to inclement weather – a first in Toyota Series history. However, that was of little concern to pro Rick Harris of Del Rio, Texas who faced the elements for the one-day shootout on Saturday to bring a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 21 pounds, 13 ounces and secure the win.
“I had a decent practice prior to all the wind and weather coming in, but I think the two days being canceled actually helped me,” said Harris. “A lot of the things you plan for a three-day event just go out the window in a one-day tournament, so you either make it or break it.”
Harris’ limit of 21-13 gave him a three-pound margin over second place Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and Phoenix Boats pro Jeff Reynolds of Calera, Oklahoma, who finished the day with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces. While the three-pound gap between first and second place at the end of the day may look as though it were a ‘slam dunk’ for Harris, the Texas pro said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I started the morning in Highport and there were a ton of boats in there fishing a high school tournament,” said Harris. “I fished in that area all morning, but never got a bite. I made a move to Big Mineral and caught a 2 ½-pounder on a ¾-ounce BOOYAH Covert Series spinnerbait with a Hayabusa Trailer Hook pretty quickly, but didn’t catch another fish for over two hours.
“Around 1:30 in the afternoon I had just decided to leave that spot when I caught a 6-11 on my Ark Tharp Series Casting Rod 7’ Fast Hammer. That gave me a little hope that I could salvage out a limit and finish well.”
With only two fish in the box and the time clock ticking, Harris was on the hunt for more bass – and more water.
“I ran around for over an hour and a half, just trying to find an area where there wasn’t a boat – everywhere I ran there were six or seven boats,” said Harris. “I tried fishing those places, but it just wasn’t working.
“Around 3 p.m. I was running back and remembered I’d found a fish on a bed earlier in the week, so I pulled in that pocket to see if she was still there. She wasn’t, but as I was about to leave, I pitched my bait and caught a 3-pounder on a point.”
With only 20 minutes left until check-in, Harris said he decided to spend the remainder of his time fishing down that bank.
“We had planned to leave there at 3:25, and I’d told my co-angler, ‘this is my last flip, get your things ready to go’”, said Harris. “I made a flip and hopped a homemade jig with a green-pumpkin-colored Reins Ring Craw trailer, and got nothing. As I’m reeling the jig in and turning the boat away to leave, I see a 6-pounder following my bait.
“I flip back in there with my Ark Tharp Series 7’6” Heavy King Cobra rod and catch a 3-pounder – put it in the box, flip in there again and catch a 6-pounder – then we raced back to check-in, where we made it with only 30 seconds to spare.”
With mere ounces separating second through fourth place, losing either of those two fish would have meant an entirely different outcome for Harris, who is celebrating his first MLF win.
“I had three in the box and was heading back to check-in without a limit – that just blows my mind,” said Harris. “It’s been very humbling to receive all the calls and text messages after winning the event. When we went to bed that night, I had 280 text messages to reply to – I still can’t believe it.”
The top 10 pros on Lake Texoma finished:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro Wardell Motley of Cleburne, Texas won the $500 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Saturday with a bass weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces.
Reynolds took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Ricky Friedrich of Pearland, Texas won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a one-day total of four bass weighing 13 pounds, 8 ounces. Friedrich took home the top 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 Texoma finished:
Lee was the Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, with a 6-pound, 3-ounce bass.
The Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at Lake Texoma was hosted by Discover Durant. It was the second tournament in the Southwestern Division Presented by Outlaw Ordnance. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place on Apr. 28-30 – the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E on Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma hosted by the City of Grove and the Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com .
The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions and finish in the top 25 – or the top 12 from the Wild Card division – will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 cash. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship will be held Nov. 3-5 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by Marshall County Tourism and Sports.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Outlaw Ordnance, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF Toyota Series on the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.