Robert Harkness Makes a Big Jump To Win

TBF Championship Final

David Hart

Robert Harkness had little thought of actually pulling out a win on the final day of the TBF Championship. The Elizabeth, West Virginia angler was in fifth place and 7 pounds, 9 ounces behind leader Nick Smyers who was on a strong pattern that produced two solid limits on days one and two. Harkness just went fishing.

“I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to pull out a win so I just went out and had a good time,” he recalled.

Harkness, however, not only managed to have fun, he caught a five-bass limit that weighed 13 pounds, 11 ounces, one of only two anglers to catch a limit on the final day. His three-day weight of 40 pounds, 13 ounces was good enough to capture the win and the TBF’s $100,000 Living The Dream package. Although Harkness, a purchasing manager for a hospital, knew the winner would have the option of paid entry into the Wal Mart FLW Tour or Series, he never gave the choice much thought. Now he’ll have some decisions to make.

Smyers spots that surrendered so many fish on the first two days went dry on the final day, and he brought only two bass that weighed 5-7 to the stage at the Branson Convention Center. When it was over, Harkness edged him out by a mere 11 ounces.

“I had a fish on my third cast but it came off. I never saw it, but I’m pretty sure it was a keeper,” said Smyers, who focused on bluff walls toward the backs of major creeks.

He threw a Strike King Series 5 crankbait throughout the tournament while Harkness threw a Mega Bass jerkbait along bluff walls in the Diamond City area of Bull Shoals Lake.

Georgia angler Zach King, who was in fourth place after the second day, caught a limit that weighed 11 pounds, 3 ounces for a total weight of 38-13. He finished third in the boater division. Daniel Ellis of Tennessee slipped one spot to fourth overall with a three-day total of 34-7, and Brandon Craner, who was in second after day two, fell to fifth overall. His three-day total weight was 34 pounds, 3 ounces. New York angler Rob LaMoy rounded out the final six with 21 pounds, 8 ounces.

Woody Parks, who was in second place after the second day, won the co-angler division with 23 pounds, 13 ounces. He traded places after the second day with Michigan angler Mark Modrak, who ended up with 23 pounds over three days. Jerry Necaise of Mississippi finished in third; West Virginia angler Eric Stewart came in fourth; David Martinez placed fifth; and Peter De Moya of Massachusetts came in sixth.

Harkness and Parks will compete in the $2 million Forrest Wood cup in August and all 12 anglers will advance to the BFL All-American in May.