Powroznik focusing on smallmouth: Bassmaster Elite Update
QCrew’s Powroznik prepares for smallmouth push at Elite Season enters final lap
By Joel Shangle
WADDINGTON, New York – QCrew Water Team member Jacob Powroznik isn’t shy about his affinity for smallmouth.
“I love me some smallies,” Powroznik says simply.
And smallmouth, apparently, love him just as much. Ever since Powroznik arrived on the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2014 – his Rookie of the Year season – the amiable Virginian has been a force on smallmouth-dominated northern fisheries: He won the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Elite Angler of the Year Championship on the Bays de Noc, Michigan, catching 47 pounds, 6 ounces of smallmouth in two days
But Proz’s smallmouth success is hardly a recent occurrence: Seven of his 12 career B.A.S.S. Top 10s have been on fisheries containing smallmouth, and he’s racked up career Top 20s on smallie fisheries from one end of the country to the other.
That bodes well for Powroznik as the Elite Series starts its final lap of the 2017 season this week on the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York, a fishery that is regarded as one of the Top 5 smallmouth rivers in the world. The smallmouth train continues a week later on Lake Champlain, New York (July 27-30), and then on to the regular-season finale at Lake St. Clair, Michigan (Aug. 24-27).
If Powroznik performs well at the final three tournaments of the year, he’ll wrap up a berth in the 2017 Angler of the Year Championship on THE best smallmouth fishery in the world: Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota.
“I have a little business to get done in these final three northern tournaments, but I’m licking my chops to get after ‘em,” Powroznik said.
Learning the behavior of the bronzeback
Growing up in Virginia, Powroznik didn’t have ample access to smallmouth. But early on in his tournament-fishing career at the BFL level, he dedicated himself to learning smallmouth behavior: where they live, their feeding habits, and how to get them to bite.
“I spent a lot of time up on Lake Erie, just working on my smallmouth game,” Powroznik said. “I’ve always liked to catch them, but I needed to spend a little extra time really figuring out what makes a smallmouth tick. They’re not like a largemouth: they live in deep, clear, cold water, they like different structure, they feed differently. I had a few things to learn about ‘em, and I’m darn glad I did.”
It paid off almost immediately: Powroznik finished third at an FLW Costa Series event on Champlain in 2005, and backed that up with another Top 10 at Champlain in 2006, and another Top 10 at the Detroit River in 2007. By the time Powroznik decided to fish the B.A.S.S. Opens to attempt to qualify for the Elites, he chose – guess what? – the Northern Opens.
He immediately earned back-to-back Top 10s at the 2013 Northern Opens on the smallmouth factories of Lake Oneida and Lake Erie.
“I guess that smallmouth thing has worked out pretty well for me so far,” Powroznik jokes.
Finishing out the 2017 regular season
As he entered Day 1 at the St. Lawrence, Powroznik sat in 47th place in the Elite AOY race, which puts him just inside the Top 50 bubble to qualify to fish the AOY Championship at Mille Lacs. He has some work to do, though, to climb into the Top 35 range to qualify for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell (where he finished fifth at the 2015 Classic).
“Man, I really, REALLY want to make that Classic,” Powroznik admits. “I mean, I don’t ever want to miss a Classic, but the way things played out at Hartwell in 2015, I really want another shot at it.”
If Proz’s smallmouth history repeats itself over the next few weeks, he’ll get that shot.