In every category you can measure, Chip Harrison, Jr. made a big improvement in 2005 over the previous year. He jumped from 65th to 13th in the FLW Tour points, climbed from 125th to 33rd in the State Farm World Rankings and notched the first FLW Tour Top 10 of his career when he finished 9th at Wheeler.

Several factors contributed to the 15-year Indiana pro's leap, but one big one was the company he kept. He practiced all year with Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., and he said the 22-year-old winner of the Forrest L. Wood Championship co-angler division was a major asset.

"He's really good," he said. "Whenever my thing wasn't working in practice, he'd catch fish behind me and that would give me the confidence to make that change."

A Fortuitous Introduction

Harrison met Jancasz through pro angler/TV personality Mark Zona, who practiced for EverStart events with Jancasz in 2003-04. Jancasz moved up to the FLW Tour co-angler ranks this year and needed a new practice partner. "Mark told me, 'This kid's really a stick and you need to get him to practice with you,''' Harrison said.

Zona, also a Michigan resident, has known Jancasz since the latter was in high school. "Trevor came to me and wanted to fish the EverStarts, and he asked if he could travel with me," he said. "The first full year we traveled together, I won the (Northern) points championship, so that should tell you something right there."

Jancasz won the Northern co-angler points title that year, then did it again this year.

"He's the real deal, man," Zona said. "I think what Chip took away from the whole thing is that having him is like having two extra hands in the boat. The co-anglers we practice with don't get enough of the credit, but they can make a big difference."

Contrast in Styles

Harrison tries to cover a lot of water in practice and primarily employs faster-moving lures such as spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Jancasz works the same area with a slower presentation. That often results in the discovery of catchable fish that Harrison might otherwise have zipped right on past.

"I'll know there are fish in certain areas, and if they're biting something different than what I'm throwing, he'll find it," he said. "He throws a lot of Senkos and shaky-heads behind me and lets me know that 'Hey, there are fish here, they just need to be caught a different way.' It saves a lot of time in practice, and it's not a coincidence that I practiced with him and I had one of my best years."

The relationship benefited Jancasz too. "It was definitely a good thing for me," he said. "He'd throw one bait and I'd throw something else in the back, and then either one of us could switch over and start catching fish on whatever was working. We knew that we could eventually get everything worked out right.

"I have a few confidence lures and I kind of stick to them, and patience is a big key for me," he added. "I try to pay attention to Chip all the time and not cast into used water, and hopefully I can pick up something from the areas he hasn't hit."

The duo worked in conjunction with Kevin Vida, and that arrangement helped Harrison finish 24th at the Ouachita River despite missing the last few practice days due to a show commitment. "By the time I got back, they'd gotten on the deal that helped me catch my fish," he said.

Jancasz will fish the 2006 FLW Tour as a co-angler, then might move to the Stren Series as a boater in 2007. "He's going to make a hell of a pro fisherman," Zona said. "Right now, he has the mechanical skills of a pro angler."

Trevor Jancasz, who's Chip Harrison Jr.'s practice partner for FLW Tour events, has twice won the Central Everstart co-angler points title.

Patience Not Always Virtuous

Harrison has come to the conclusion that there are some tournaments in which great patience pays off, but also some where it doesn't. With that in mind, he took a few more risks in 2005 than he had in previous years.

"I've always done pretty well on small, crowded bodies of water like we have up here (in the North)," he said. "In events where everybody's bunched up in certain areas, patience comes in handy. But in the last couple of years I've learned to just go with my gut instincts more and fish day by day.

"Like at Wheeler, I knew the tournament was going to be won on Guntersville because you can catch 20 pounds a day there as opposed to 12 to 15 pounds on Wheeler. I'd caught them well enough in practice on Wheeler to know that I could've made a check without taking the risk of running that far and locking, but I wanted to win that tournament. I didn't win, but I made the Top 10."

He said the only negative aspect of his season was the fact that it was another winless campaign. Achieving that initial victory is a high priority.

"I've always wanted to win one of the national tournaments, " he said. "I don't think you can really be satisfied until you've won one. I know I'm a good fisherman, but until I win against the level of competition that we have out here, I won't be completely satisfied."

He hasn't finished 100th or below at a tournament in nearly 2 years, and he'll go into 2006 confident that his breakthrough victory might not be far off.

"Decisions come easier when you're doing things well and you don't second-guess yourself as much," he said. "You can go into an area and if something has changed, you can just jump right into the next situation."


> Harrison is excited about the new FLW Series, particularly because the tournaments are spread throughout the year. "Anytime we're away from the spawn, that can't hurt me," he said. "Sight-fishing for spawning bass is definitely a weakness for me, and I'm not going to complain about five more cracks at winning $100,000."

> He roomed with Kevin VanDam at FLW Tour events a few years ago, and he said that experience has helped him become more decisive about changes when his pattern falters. "I learned a lot from him, especially about making adjustments faster when I'm on the water."