Lake of the Ozarks Major League Fishing Toyota Series 6 Mar 2021
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (March 7, 2021) – Missouri boater Michael Harlin of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 20 pounds, 6 ounces to win the Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. at Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Fenwick. Harlin weighed in 15 bass over three days of competition totaling 62 pounds, 1 ounce, besting second-place angler Andy Newcomb of Camdenton, Missouri , by more than 15 pounds. For his victory, Harlin earned the top payout of $37,802 in the first tournament of the 2021 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Plains Division.
Each day was a little different in how the bite unfolded for Harlin, but he caught them all three days doing the same thing – throwing an umbrella rig while watching his forward-facing sonar.
“Today, I stuck with the same plan,” Harlin said. “I was fortunate to sit right down on them this morning when they were biting, or it would have been a lot tougher. I caught my two biggest fish right away and had most of my weight by 9 o’clock.”
All week, he targeted what he considers the mid-depth range and cycled through multiple spots.
“I keyed on the 6- to 20-foot range,” said Harlin. “All of the places were between the toll bridge and the dam. I started the tournament with around 15 spots I found in practice and had narrowed it down to eight or 10 by today. I also found some new stuff yesterday and that’s where I started today.”
Keying on brush and rock to find fish, Harlin thinks locating staging areas was of more importance. Timing was another critical factor.
“It was mainly brush but also some rock and pea gravel,” said Harlin. “It didn’t seem to matter what it was they were holding to. The first day I caught them all day and the second day, it was late in the day. Today, it was an early bite. I think you just had to hit it right when they were in that feeding window.
Harlin’s umbrella-rig was a YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. with 1/8-ounce Crock-O-Gator jigheads rigged with 3.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT swimbaits . That setup was his go-to all week.
“I fished the French pearl color and pro blue red pearl and would alternate if it got sunny or cloudy,” he said. “I also caught some fish today on a Megabass Vision 110 in stain reaction OB.”
Forward-facing sonar was vital for Harlin, both for locating fish and getting them to bite.
“I watched just about every fish I caught this week eat the bait,” he says. “It takes a lot of practice with it, but you can learn to interact with the fish. It helps you get them to bite when they aren’t really biting that good or just following it. It gives you a clue to change your retrieve a little if they are not committing to it.”
The top 10 pros on Lake of the Ozarks finished:
1st: Michael Harlin of Sunrise Beach, Mo., 15 bass, 62-1, $37,802
2nd: Andy Newcomb of Camdenton, Mo., 15 bass, 46-12, $15,595
3rd: Jack Uxa of Osage Beach, Mo., 15 bass, 46-6, $11,299
4th: Brock Reinkemeyer of Warsaw, Mo., 15 bass, 45-9, $9,416
5th: Eric Olliverson of Lampe, Mo., 12 bass, 45-8, $8,475
6th: Kirk Smith of Edmonton, Okla., 15 bass, 43-6, $7,533
7th: Brad Jelinek of Lincoln, Mo., 15 bass, 42-12, $6,591
8th: Stephen Whitesell of Grove, Okla., 15 bass, 42-6, $5,650
9th: Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., 14 bass, 40-2, $4,708
10th: Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., eight bass, 29-9, $3,766
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.