Jacob Powroznik: Bassmaster Elite first half recap
Jacob Powroznik mid-season report: “Watch out for me this second half”
By Jacob Powroznik
Let’s do a little comparison between sports: tournament bass fishing versus professional football. I can’t even count how many times an NFL team starts off a season with a decent first half, and then goes 7-1 in the second half to make the playoffs.
Well, you can consider the upcoming Bassmaster Elite Series event – the new Toyota Texas Fest – at Sam Rayburn Lake in east Texas my second-half surge for the 2017 Elite season.
Sam Rayburn falls right in the middle of the 2017 schedule: we’ve fished Lake Cherokee, Lake Okeechobee, the Bassmaster Classic, Toledo Bend, and Ross Barnett Reservoir; we have four regular-season tournaments left after Rayburn, and then the Angler of the Year Championship.
To stay with the football analogy, I consider that AOY Championship our first “playoff game”. Everybody’s goal right now is to finish the season in the Top 50 of the AOY standings so they can compete in that AOY Championship on Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota.
Heading into Rayburn, I’m 67th in the AOY with 210 points, so I have a little work to do. And I plan to take care of business out there in Texas: Rayburn is one of the best big-fish lakes in the world, and I feel like it suits me real well. More than that, though, I’m pretty focused on climbing up those AOY standings.
My Elite season to date
I won’t lie to you, I’m not happy with 67th. I’ve finished in the Top 6 in AOY standings the last six years in a row (on the Elites and FLW Tour), so I’m ready to turn my momentum at Rayburn, and then follow that up with Top 50s at Lake Dardanelle, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair.
And if there’s one thing I plan to focus on in the second half, it’s execution. I’ve lost too many fish this season, and just barely missed on a few opportunities in two tournaments that would’ve made the difference between a Top 50 and a Top 20. Those little opportunities add up, because every place I finish higher (or lower) in an Elite event affects my AOY point total.
Here’s how my season has gone so far:
Cherokee Lake: There’s nothing more frustrating than being one or two of the last guys out for a Top 50 cut, and I was THAT guy at Cherokee. I finished tied for 52nd in weight, and the cut was 51st.
That tournament being what it was – cold water, tough conditions – every bite mattered, and I just didn’t capitalize on all my bites. It cost me a Top 50.
Lake Okeechobee: Okechobee and I have a love/hate relationship, and I’d have to say that the Big O. got the better of me this season: 92nd. I joked that I had been “bamboozled” after that tournament, but joking aside, those Florida fisheries are awfully fickle. Some days you’re a hero with 25 pounds, some days you’re lucky to catch 12 while the guy fishing 50 feet from you is catching 7-pounders.
I was not the guy catching 7-pounders this time around.
2017 Bassmaster Classic: Now, 12th place at the Classic is nothing to sneeze at, and I’ll gladly take it. But, man, if I just one more day out on Lake Conroe, I think I could’ve put together a 30-plus-pound bag. I mentioned in my QCrew blog right after the tournament that I had seen the biggest largemouth of my life on Day 3 on Conroe, and I still see that fish in my head.
Toledo Bend: I’ll take the Top 20 at Toledo Bend (I finished 18th), but this one could’ve been a Top 10 if I had landed a couple of fish that popped off. You have to understand that I have high expectations anytime we fish Toledo Bend, since this lake produced my first-ever Elite Series win my rookie season in 2014.
Ross Barnett: I lost too many fish on Day 1 at Ross Barnett. Simple as that. I was around the fish to make a run at the Top 20, but couldn’t turn all my hookups into fish in the livewell.
There’s a whole lot I like about our remaining tournaments. We hit three smallmouth fisheries after Rayburn and Dardanelle, and everybody knows I love those smallmouth. I promise you this: watch out for me this second half!