By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Jacob Powroznik had a great year on the FLW Tour in 2012. Ironically, one of his best friends kept it from being even better.
If not for David Dudley, Powroznik would've picked up his first career tour-level victory at Lake Champlain and also would've captured the Angler of the Year (AOY) award. However, his fellow Virginian and off-season striper fishing buddy claimed those distinctions for himself, leaving Powroznik with no new hardware for his mantel.
"It's just one of those things – you can only do as good as you can do," he said. "Three times I finished in the Top 10 (out of six Tour Majors) and I ended up 2nd in the points. The only thing I can say is at least Virginia guys finished 1 and 2.
"Me and Dudley are very close friends, but he's the guy I try to beat at every tournament. That's because if you beat him, it's almost a sure thing that you're going to end up with a good finish. He's just that good."
He said they often share tidbits of information in practice, but they don’t go into great detail.
"I might tell him that I'm catching them on a floating worm, or he might tell me he's catching them off the back of boat docks. It's never anything real specific. We just point each other in the right direction."
Fishing without Fear
Although Dudley proved to be Powroznik's primary roadblock this year in terms of even greater success, Powroznik says the No. 1 angler in the BassFan World Rankings has taught him a thing or two that's helped him excel in his own right. Perhaps most importantly, watching Dudley operate has caused Powroznik to fish more instinctively.
"I think the main reason he succeeds so much is because he has no fear," Powroznik said. "If he goes and does something and it's not working, then he'll go and do something else at the drop of a hat.
"He's always had a little bit of an edge on me in that department, but I did it more this year than I have in years past, and it worked."
As an example, he pointed to the Champlain event. He might not have finished in Dudley's immediate wake had he not been willing to give up on what had gotten him to the final day.
"I was fishing down south (at Ticonderoga), and those fish had so much pressure on them. I'd heard of guys catching some big ones on frogs, but I'd been catching mine on a Senko and a crankbait.
"I decided that if I wasn't catching them good by 9 o'clock, I was just going to put the frog in my hand and go at it the rest of the day. I did that, and I ended up catching over 20 pounds. Those fish were still there, but they'd gone back up under the mats and it was just a matter of making the change to something that would get to them."
Team Deal Disappears
Powroznik's superb year on the water didn't help him a whole lot off of it. The Snapple team deal he fished under in 2012 has gone by the wayside, so it looks as if he'll be funding the upcoming campaign himself.
"It's always good to have a big sponsor, but I've done it more often without one than with one," he said. "It'd be nice to have somebody you could really represent, who you knew was going to stick around for a few years. With a lot of these deals, you don't know what's going to happen from one year to the next.
"(FLW) might call tomorrow and tell me I've got another deal. You can't worry about it or else it'll mess your fishing up. I'll just go out and fish as hard as I can and hope somebody recognizes my efforts and wants to come on board. I don't need to get everything paid for, but it'd be nice to have somebody help pull you along a little bit.
"This year I was all dressed up in bright colors and I had one of the best years I could even think about having on the Tour and then winning the points in the Northern EverStarts, and it looks like next year I'll just be a plain Jane again."
He's socking away money this off-season by guiding waterfowl hunters on a large farm adjacent to the Rappahannock River.
"That'll pay my first four (Tour) entry fees, so I've got to make money in those tournaments to pay for a boat and all that other stuff."
He also plans to fish the Bassmaster Northern Opens this year, which, with the exception of a single Weekend Series derby in 2005, would mark the first time he's ever crossed over to the B.A.S.S. side.
"I never even thought about fishing B.A.S.S. before, but if I do qualify for the Elites, then FLW will have to make me a (team) offer or I'm gone," he said. "That's just the way it is – it's a business and everybody has to make their own decisions."