By Todd Ceisner
Always catch five.
That’s the message that keeps resonating in Jacob Powroznik’s mind. It’s a simple, yet powerful piece of advice he picked up years ago from Woo Daves, a longtime family friend and 2000 Bassmaster Classic champion.
The three-word phrase has been one of the keys to the success he’s enjoyed thus far in his career as an FLW Tour pro and one of the main reasons he finds himself in contention for the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) title with one event remaining.
“Once you get five in the livewell, then you can go do what you want to do,” Powroznik said, recalling Daves’ message. “That’s always stuck in my head. I always try to catch five as quick as I can because then you can relax and try to find the bigger bites.”
With the Lake Champlain Tour Major coming up at the end of the month, the Prince George, Va., pro will be chasing quick limits again as he seeks to become the 13th different angler to claim the AOY title.
The Champlain Plan
Not since 2009, when 5 points separated the Top 3 heading into the season finale, has the race for AOY been as tight as it is right now. The deficit from 1st to 10th in ’09 was 108 points. This year, however, the gap is 72.
Powroznik has the best seat in the house, perched in 3rd place, 18 points behind leader David Dudley, a fellow Virginian, and 17 back of 2nd-place Jim Moynagh. If either or both falters and Powroznik logs another strong finish, the title could be his.
Helping matters is that the season will conclude at his favorite lake.
“I love Champlain,” he said. “Any time you get to go to a place that has that many smallmouth and largemouth in it and to be able to catch them at will, it’s pretty fun.”
He’s yet to crack the Top 30 in four previous Tour Majors at Champlain, but he has a pair of 3rd-place finishes in the EverStart Series and a 5th from the old FLW Series to his credit. Rest assured, he knows his way around the lake that straddles the New York-Vermont border.
“You can’t ever count anything out up there,” he added. “We have 3 days of practice and it’s going to be daylight to dark. You never know when you might find that winning spot.
“I’m just going to go fishing like I’ve done all year and see where the chips fall.”
He admits he won’t be able to avoid seeing how those around him in points are faring, but he won’t allow it to consume him.
“I remember back at the beginning of the year when people were talking about the chance to win Angler of the Year,” he said. “I’m just really trying to take it as just another tournament. If it falls where I have a chance after day 2 and make it to the Top 20 and have a chance to win, then it’ll be great. If not, I’ve had a great year and I can’t complain.
“You’re always going to think about it, but it’s one of those things you have to take it out of your head and just go fishing. Like I’ve always said, ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.’ It could come down to catching a 5-pounder on your last flip or cast. You’ll know as the tournament goes on how it’s going to play out.”
Year In, Year Out
If Powroznik is able to maintain his position among the Top 10 in points, it’ll be his third such finish in the last 5 seasons. The other two years, he was among the Top 40. He also finished 11th in 2007, so it’s easy to see why he’s considered one of the most consistent anglers on Tour. He might even be the best veteran stick to have not won a Tour-level event.
Never one to force the issue, he’s a one-day-at-a-time type who will accept the outcome, good or bad. Most of the time, though, it’s been good. He’s spent a grand total of 1 day in five Majors this season outside the Top 40 and that was day 1 at the Potomac River, when the wind blew hard and muddied up his area. The next day, he caught 17-05, moved up 53 spots in the standings to 36th and cashed a nice check.
Powroznik is in line to qualify for his sixth straight Forrest Wood Cup this year.
He’s a virtual lock to fish the Forrest Wood Cup for the seventh time this year. He made the 20-cut a year ago, but his average finish in six Cups is 45th, a result he’s hoping to improve upon at Lake Lanier in August.
“I’d like to make the Top 10 in one of those championships,” he said. “That’s something you strive for.”
Qualifying for seven straight Cups speaks to his consistency over the years, again a product of Daves’ tutelage. They speak frequently and back when he was a teenager, Powroznik even accompanied Daves on a practice trip in advance of the Classic.
“He taught me a lot about being consistent,” he said. “If you ever look back at his Tour-level performances, he was pretty consistent. He was always going to have five and he’d always have a decent bag of fish. I pick his brain a lot and it comes out pretty good.”
He’s been surrounded by skilled anglers his whole life, whether it’s Daves or his father or fellow competitors. The trick has been combining his own talents with the knowledge he gleans from them and putting it all into motion on the water.
“My dad’s an excellent fisherman, too,” he said. “I’ve fished with Dudley a lot and seeing how he approaches things a whole lot differently than I do. I have a lot of friends around home that are real good fishermen as well. I just watch and put it all together in my mind.
“Being consistent is about just spending time on the water. Days on the water are just like tournament days to me. If I’m out there just playing around and they’re not biting, I want to go catch them so I’ll make a little adjustment and go over here and then they’ll get to biting. It all stays in your mind. It’s funny because you remember all of that stuff even when you think you’d forget a lot of it.”
> Powroznik is an avid turkey hunter and loves spring gobbler season when he and a pal have free reign over a 4,500-acre farm in Tappahannock, Va.
> He finished 5th this weekend at the Kerr Lake Northern EverStart, while Daves took 3rd at the James River Bassmaster Northern Open.