As is the case with most school-age kids, Jacob Powroznik looked forward to the start of summer in northern Virginia like it was a get-out-of-jail-free card.
But while other kids’ attention turned to the local swimming hole and sandlot baseball games, Powroznik’s summer revolved around a pond located at a hunting club to which his dad David belonged.
The pond wasn’t large by any stretch of the imagination, but over the course of Powroznik’s school-age summers, it taught him things about catching bass that he still utilizes as a successful touring pro.
“Man, I’d spend every day I could on that pond,” said Powroznik who won the third stage of Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour earlier this year. “I’d go over there in the summertime with my little boat with a flasher on the front so I could have an idea about how deep everything was, and fish every bit of that pond. Shallow, deep, I fished it all, and I learned a lot about catching fish when it’s hot.”
Recently, Powroznik answered some of our questions about summer bass fishing.
Q: What’s one basic rule that you apply to all of your summertime fishing?
A: You never, ever rule anything out until you’ve fished it for yourself. Yes, there are some basic truths that can get you started pretty much every season of the year, but I still try my best to keep an open mind when I’m fishing in the summer. I used to force myself to go to Buggs Island Lake (Virginia) in July, when it was the hottest and the fishing was the slowest, so I could learn how to catch bass in those conditions. And one thing I learned is that there might be just as many big fish up shallow as there are out deep, where you’d expect the cooler water to be. You have to go both ways: fish deeper, yes, but also fish those shallow, shady spots where a big ol’ fish might be hunkered down.
Q: What are a couple of universal baits for the summertime? A couple of baits that you’ll have on deck, no matter where in the country you’re fishing?
A: A topwater and a drop-shot. I’ll fish those from one end of the country to another. No matter how warm it gets in the summer, there’s always a topwater bite sometime during the day. It might only be for an hour or two first thing in the morning, but you can throw a topwater, like a Livingston Walking Boss, for suspended, schooling fish, or a Walk N Pop at more target-oriented fish. I think people give up on a topwater too soon in the summer, too — it doesn’t just have to be first thing in the morning or at night.
A drop-shot is another bait that works almost all year ’round. In the summer, you can drop a V&M Trickster down into brushpiles and fish a school, or fish it around deeper rock. It’s just a very versatile presentation.
Q: You’ve talked about the “how” of catching bass in the summer, but what about more specifics on “where?” Are there any basic rules you follow when you’re trying to identify specific water conditions?
A: You have to remember that summertime starts to become about different things than just eating and spawning. As water gets hot, it starts to get stagnant — there’s less oxygen, and the bait just naturally moves away from that. A lot of fish will move out of the backs of creeks in the summer because the water just isn’t that hospitable. I’ll usually pay more attention to the main lake in the summertime, or to parts of the lake that have a natural river arm. Basically, something that has current flowing at all times.
Q: Do you also naturally switch more to smallmouth fisheries in the summer versus largemouth? Your competition schedule usually starts to take you farther north in the summertime, but is that a course you’ll follow on your own fun-fishing time as well?
A: In the summer, when largemouth fishing slows down and gets really tough, the smallmouth fishing is usually absolutely incredible in places like Lake Erie, Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair. Smallmouth are biters: they just like to eat. If you can find a wad of them in the summer, you can catch the fire out of them on a drop-shot. Smallmouth fishing has changed since I first started learning how to catch them. Back in those days, it was a tube and heavier weight. But now I like 6-pound fluorocarbon and a drop-shot weight down to 1/4 ounce if I’m fishing shallower than 20 feet. There are absolutely some times in the summer when it’s worth it to me to make a drive to a good smallmouth fishery.
TOP 8 GO AT IT IN THE REDCREST
You’ve watched top anglers compete through the first half of 2019 in the Bass Pro Tour. Now, we’re coming up on the culmination of that tour — the Redcrest. On Aug. 19-25, the top eight BPT anglers will compete in the Redcrest tournament on the upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. First prize will be $300,000. Of course, it also will be pretty epic for the winning angler to be able to hoist the first-ever Redcrest champion’s trophy.
While there’s a lot at stake for the anglers, all bass fans can get in on the action. If you’re in the neighborhood of La Crosse, Aug. 23-25, stop by the community expo where there will be all sorts of events and gear from Bass Pro Tour sponsors. Activities, including interaction with the pros, are free and open to the public. Check out majorleaguefishing.com for more information about the tournament and expo.