Harriman’s lone fish enough to hang on at Lake of the Ozarks - Major League Fishing
Harriman’s lone fish enough to hang on at Lake of the Ozarks
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Harriman’s lone fish enough to hang on at Lake of the Ozarks

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Travis Harriman had a brutal final day, but still pulled off the win thanks to a cushion and overall tough conditions. Photo by Patterson Leeth. Angler: Travis Harriman.
September 30, 2023 • Sean Ostruszka • Toyota Series

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – It may have been the worst and best 30 minutes of Travis Harriman’s career.

Walking up to weigh in for the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division finale, the Arkansas pro admits he was having one of the worst days of his life.

You see, he’d taken off on Lake of the Ozarks this morning with a 4-pound 12-ounce lead after two stellar days of fishing. Yet, in his weigh-in bag he only had one fish that didn’t weigh as much as the lead he figured for sure he squandered.

Somehow, though, that one fish ended up being enough.

With most of the rest of the Top 25 struggling or completely bombing, Harriman’s lone 4-pound, 4-ounce bass got him to 42-12 for the event, which was just enough to hang on ahead of weak charges from Cody Huff and Joe Grafeman.

“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.”

Travis Harriman has had a really good 2023, with a lot of success on and off the water. Photo by Patterson Leeth

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.”

Travis Harriman started the day with a big lead and finished the day with the lead that mattered. Photo by Patterson Leeth

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.”

Top 10 pros

1. Travis Harriman – 42 – 12 (11) – $40,000

2. Cody Huff – 41 – 14 (15) – $15,500

3. Joe Grafeman – 41 – 14 (15) – $13,200 (includes $1,000 Phoenix Bonus)

4. Jim Stamper – 41 – 4 (15) – $10,000

5. Kirk Smith – 40 – 11 (15) – $9,000

6. Adam Boehle – 40 – 7 (15) – $8,000

7. Drew Gill – 40 – 2 (15) – $7,000

8. Corey Cook – 40 – 1 (15) – $6,000

9. Michael Harlin – 39 – 7 (15) – $5,000

10. Brad Jelinek – 37 – 13 (12) – $4,500

Complete results