JASPER, Ala. — From early in the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens season, one name has been on top of the Falcon Rods Opens Angler of the Year points standings. And with a Top 10 cut at the second Central Open of the season at Lewis Smith Lake and second to last Open, Jacob Powroznik is one day closer to achieving his goal of requalifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series.
With a two-day total of 23 pounds, 4 ounces, the North Prince George, Va. native jumped from 11th to fourth on Day 2 to secure a spot on the final day at Smith Lake, the third time he’s made the championship cut this season.
With no worse than a 10th-place finish, Powroznik maintains his lead in the overall standings with 1,368 points, 60 points ahead of second-place Tommy Williams. While he hasn’t mathematically secured an Elite Series invite just yet, he knows he is one or two more good days away from making it back.
“The money would be great and winning the (Angler of the Year) would be good. It is something that nobody could ever take away from me,” the former Elite Series champion said. “It is going to be a fun ride. These Opens are a grind and I take my hat off for all the guys who fish all nine of them. I quit a professional circuit to do this to try and make the Elites, and I figured the only way to make it was to fish all nine and hopefully it pays off.”
With an 8th-place finish at the Harris Chain, Powroznik has had a consistent season in the overall standings since the very beginning and notched his second Top 10 with a 10th-place finish at Oneida. He took the official lead in the overall Falcon Rods Basspro.com Bassmaster Angler of the Year points at the James River. Throughout the year, he has battled through nearly all of the phases of the bass fishing season and has caught all three species.
As he evaluated his season, Powroznik said the final Northern Open at the St. Lawrence River proved to be his toughest challenge.
“I love catching smallmouth and the first day I had 17 pounds, which up there is mediocre,” he said. “I was down in the dumps on that. I had a chance to qualify for the Elites in that division. That was kind of a bummer but I came back the next day and caught around 23 pounds. There have been some ups and downs but overall it's been pretty fun.”
Powroznik also had an opportunity to secure his spot in the Elites through the Southern Opens standings, but came up just short after a tough late summer, early fall event at Lake Norman where he finished 59th.
“I was doing well in the Southern division. We just went to Lake Norman and if I made it in that, I probably wouldn’t have come here since hunting season is in, but I didn’t do real well,” he said. “Something kept me going to do this and I don’t know what’s in store, but I love fishing.”
On an ultra-tough fall tournament on Smith Lake, a tournament originally scheduled for April, Powroznik has grinded out a limit both days of the tournament by fishing for suspended bass over 100 feet of water in standing timber.
Early on, the Virginia native discovered the bass he was fishing for would not eat anything with a lot of tail action or something with a lot of vibration like a blade bait. Instead, Powroznik is using a shad imitating bait from V&M that has very little action in the tail.
“I’m using Active Target and that is the biggest key,” he said. “I’m casting to schools that are just swimming around. I think I’m just fishing where no one else is fishing. These fish haven’t seen a bait and are more aggressive. It is very time consuming, but if you put your head down and focus, you’ll get some bites. I just can’t believe I haven’t run into a 4- or 5-pounder yet.”
He added that he has lost a couple this week that have come shooting up to the surface like a smallmouth would. If Championship Saturday goes as planned, Powroznik thinks he can catch between 11 and 12 pounds but said he will need someone in the Top 3 to stumble to have a shot at the win and a 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk berth.
“You always fish to win. But, my biggest deal in this was, I need to get back on the Bassmaster Elite Series,” he said.
One final tournament stands in his way of an Elite Series berth and the Falcon Rods AOY title and he is looking forward to getting back into his comfort zone at Grand Lake in two weeks for the season finale.
“I have been fishing against Tommy Williams since 2000 and Tommy is a great guy,” he said. “We are going to have a race at Grand. We get to go fish the way we like to fish and we get to get the big string on. What a lake to end the season on. I’m ready to get it over with and be able to do some hunting this fall and winter.”