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Mercury Pro felt his father’s presence when it mattered most.
Any day a tournament angler takes home a six-figure paycheck is a special day. It doesn’t happen every day, or every year, or even every career.
But when Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, caught 15 scorable bass (two pounds or more each) for a total of 49 pounds, 11 ounces Feb. 26 to win Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour Stage Two on Lake Okeechobee in Florida, he collected his third career $100,000 winner’s check.
Powroznik won the tenth-ever MLF Bass Pro Tour regular season event with an 11-pound advantage over runner-up and fellow Mercury pro Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee. Powroznik previously won Stage Three of the inaugural Bass Pro Tour season in 2019 at Shearon Harris Reservoir in North Carolina and a Bassmaster Elite Series title in 2014 at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Louisiana.
Powroznik was noticeably deep in thought during the tournament’s final minutes.
“This (Okeechobee) was the last place my dad and I got to fish before he passed away,” said a tearful Powroznik, a rare expression of emotion from the easygoing angler.
Powroznik and his father, David, spent a week fishing together in Florida between tournaments in 2014. They were staying at Jacob’s uncle’s house, and all three knew Jacob’s father had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“My Dad said, ‘let’s go and fish Okeechobee for our last day of the trip.’ So, we drove down there, launched the boat, and fished the same area where I fished these final days of the event,” said Jacob after the recent win. “We caught a ton of fish, and I remember the very last fish we caught. I found a six or seven-pound fish sitting on a bed and knew it would be a ‘one-flipper.’ Sure enough, he caught it on the first flip in there.”
David passed away in December 2015.
Jacob credits several people for teaching him to fish, including his father, two uncles, family friend Wade Rook and 2000 Bassmaster Classic Champion Woo Daves from Spring Grove, Virginia.
“My dad worked a lot, ran a business, got to know Woo, and did some work for him through that,” said Powroznik. “Between them and my two uncles, I was always getting to go fishing. I even got to go and fish with Woo during practice for the 1997 Bassmaster Classic on Logan Martin in Alabama. That experience was amazing.”
Powroznik becomes the second angler (with Jacob Wheeler) to have won two regular-season MLF Bass Pro Tour events, and he’s finished in the money seven times. Mercury pro Edwin Evers has won both a Bass Pro Tour regular season event and the first annual Redcrest Championship.
Powroznik credits his success to the way his mentors taught him to fish.
“I started fishing on the James River (in Virginia), and we just went looking to catch fish,” he said. “You don’t go out on a tidal river and throw some big spinnerbait trying to catch five big bass. We had a 10-fish limit when I was growing up. You just got on a pattern where you got bites.”
The Bass Pro Tour has no limits regarding the number of scorable, two-pound-plus bass an angler can weigh during a tournament.
“To this day, I try to go out and get as many bites as possible,” said Powroznik. “I want to catch as many bass as possible in a day’s time. The more bites, the better chance I have to catch a big one, too. Some guys change their fishing style depending on the limit, but I don’t.”
Interestingly, both of Powroznik’s Bass Pro Tour conquests saw him make a final-period rally –each period is 2.5 hours – to come back and win the event going away.
“I know my dad was sitting with me all day today,” he said.