Powroznik power!

Santee Cooper EverStart Eastern Division champion Jacob Powroznik hails from Prince George, Va.

Jacob Powroznik wins Everstart Eastern event on Santee Cooper with 23 pounds, 1 ounce

MANNING, S.C. - Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., started his week at the Santee Cooper EverStart event in first place and ended the week in first place. Powroznik brought 23 pounds, 1 ounce to the scales today to win his first EverStart event.

"You have no idea what this means to me," said an emotional Powroznik in front of the crowd which included many of his family and friends.

A big key to Powroznik's victory was managing his fish throughout the event so he could clear the cut days. On the first day, he led the event with 26 pounds, 9 ounces. Then on days three and four, he carefully caught only what he needed from his area to survive the eliminations.

Today, Powroznik went back to his primary area in the Pack's Flats region of Lake Marion and fished it for all it was worth. He fished cypress trees that were encircled with grass. His best baits were a 1/2-ounce Glamour Shad spinner bait (white skirt and two gold willow leaf blades) and a Zoom Tube (green pumpkin).

"The spinner bait really worked better earlier in the week," he said. "Today pitching the tube was a better deal."

Powroznik's tube was rigged with a 3/16-ounce weight and a 4/0 Gamakatsu hook tied to 20-pound-test Izor line.

"As the water dropped this week, it pulled fish out of the bulrushes onto trees that had grass around the trunks," he said. "I did not have a bite today until the water started moving at about 10 a.m. Then they really turned on."

This is Powroznik's third year on the EverStart Series. His highest finish before this win was a fifth place showing at the Lake Okeechobee stop in January.

For his victory, Powroznik collected a fully rigged Ranger Boat, $10,000 cash, a $3,000 Ranger Cup check and $1,000 for the Garmin Grand incentive.

Shumpert is second

Past Santee Cooper EverStart champion Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., finished second with 20 pounds, 8 ounces.

Shumpert, who has fished the Santee Cooper lakes for most of his life, relied on local knowledge for his finish this week.

"I have about 25 key spots between the dam and the bridge on the upper lake that have taken me a lifetime to learn," said Shumpert. "These little spots are essentially staging areas outside of backwater ponds. Each spot is made up of a cluster of cypress trees that has just a little bit deeper water around the trees. Some trees are 2 feet deeper, and some are just 6 inches deeper, but they are deeper than the surrounding flat."

There is not enough time in an eight-hour fishing day to hit all of Shumpert's spots, so he had to pick and choose which ones to fish this week. "I can fish about 10 of these places in a day," he said. "I'll spend about 20 to 30 minutes on each one. If I get a bite, I'll double back, otherwise I'll move on."

His key bait was a Gene Larew Hoo Daddy (black/blue) rigged with a 1/8-ounce sinker tied to 15-pound-test P-Line. A slow fall was a key for Shumpert. "I usually make about three pitches to each tree," he added.

The South Carolina native actually discovered these places when he used to crappie fish on Lake Marion. "The crappie used to stack up in these same exact places before moving in to spawn," he said. "The bass are no different. These are classic migration routes for fish. Even though the water was high this week, they still used them."

Thornhill sticks to third

Santee Cooper veteran guide Lindwood Thornhill of Pineville, S.C., finished third with 17 pounds, 2 ounces.

He returned to the same place in the upper lake that produced his 20-pound, 5-ounce string yesterday. Although he filled out his limit quickly, the bass were smaller.

Thornhill relied on Texas-rigged Zoom lizards (green pumpkin) with 1/8-ounce weight tied to 15-pound-test line to catch his fish.

Hudgins finishes fourth

Bryan Hudgins of Orange Park, Fla., caught 16 pounds, 10 ounces to finish fourth. Hudgins fished in the Hog Swamp area of Lake Moultrie during the week.

His best three lures were a Zoom Trick Worm (black), a Zoom Mag II worm (blueberry) and a Gambler Tube (black/red flake). He fished the trick worm weightless and the other two soft plastic on 1/16-ounce weights.

"The key was dead sticking the bait around cypress trees," he said. "I had to throw to a tree and let it die. I preferred to throw the weightless trick worm when the wind would let me, but if it blew, I had to put some weight on the baits to dead stick them."

Clifton finishes fifth

Rounding out the top five on the pro side was Wayne Clifton of Goose Creek, S.C., with 14 pounds, 5 ounces.

Sean Stepps up for co-angler win

Sean Stepp of Dumfries, Va., won the Co-angler Division with 11 pounds, 11 ounces. He used a Gambler tube (black/red flake/chartreuse) and Senko (junebug) to fool his limit of five bass.

Stepp used the Senko weightless on 17-pound-test line but pinned a 3/16-ounce sinker to the tube on 20-pound-test line.

He fished with pro champion Powroznik today. "I eventually learned that pitching to the same trees he was fishing was futile," Stepp said. "So I started casting to trees that were farther out of his pitching range, and that is how I got all of my bites."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top five in the Co-angler Division were James Hill of Ozark, Ala., (second) with 10 pounds, 5 ounces; Tee Watkins of East Point, Ky., (third) with 9 pounds, 11 ounces; Jeff Haywood of Troy, N.C., (fourth) with 6 pounds, 13 ounces; and John Deak of Phillipsburg, Ohio, (fifth) with 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

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