Fishing & Boating News

Stachowski and Bruce Win Lucas Oil Angler of the Year Awards for Cabela's National Walleye Tour

Pro- and co-anglers win Lucas Oil AOY Rings and paid entry fees for 2017 season

by: Greg Duncan, Blue Heron Communications

Pro-angler Ed Stachowski holds with his Pro-Angler of the Year trophy at the Cabela's National Walleye Tour championship event at Mobridge, S.D.
Photo by courtesy Cabela's NWT
(Aug 25, 2016 - New Smyrana Beach, FL) The 2016 season for the Cabela's National Walleye Tour (NWT) came to a close earlier this month on Lake Oahe in South Dakota with pro-angler Ed Stachowski and co-angler Josh Bruce rising to the top and winning the Lucas Oil Angler of the Year (AOY) titles. Along with custom Lucas Oil AOY rings, both anglers earned paid entry fees for the 2017 NWT season.
The Lucas Oil Angler of the Year marks the first major title in Stachowski's five-year pro career.
"To do better than everyone over the course of a season is pretty huge to me," said Stachowski. "It proves that I have the skills to compete on any body of water."
The NWT AOY goes to the angler who consistently performs throughout the season. Stachowski took eighth place at Lake Erie and followed with 11th-place at Winnebago. The angler's 35th-place at Sturgeon Bay put the potential title in jeopardy.  
"I was sitting in second place behind my travel partner after Winnebago and felt I had a shot," said Stachowski. "The third event made me a bit nervous. I scraped into the money there. I haven't had a good history at Sturgeon Bay."
Stachowski regrouped and showed up strong at the championship event on Lake Oahe with an 11th-place finish to wrap up the title.
"It's a monstrous accomplishment for me," said Stachowski. "It's a huge honor with the caliber of fishermen on the NWT. That being said, I didn't go into the tournament trying to win AOY. I was trying to win the championship. To just miss the top 10 is bittersweet. Still, it's a huge feeling of accomplishment. I've had some good tournaments, but this is the first time that I've put it together for the whole year."
Josh Bruce, of Williston, North Dakota, won the NWT Co-Angler of the Year title. The angler fished two NWT events last year and competed in his first full season in 2016.
"It's a great feeling," said Bruce. "I've had my ups and downs through the year, but it kind of worked out."
Co-anglers are randomly paired with different pros each day of a tournament. Over the course of the 2016 season, Bruce soaked up knowledge from the pro-anglers on new techniques and how to fish unfamiliar waters.
"It's a total different experience," said Bruce. "You learn so many different things and get to fish these different bodies of water. That's one of the main reasons for fishing as a co-angler. It's a whole new ballgame. You're finding fish in spots you hadn't thought about."
Being paired with so many different pro-anglers also gave Bruce insight to the mental aspect of managing expectations and fighting through a tough day of fishing.
"Some guys have rough days and that happens to everyone," said Bruce. "Some handle it totally different than others. You feed off of it. If he is feeling confident, you just feel it."
With paid entry fees paid for the 2017 season, Bruce hopes to follow up his 2016 performance with another title and is keeping the possibility of turning pro in the back of his mind.
"I am definitely going to run on the co-angler side next year," said Bruce. "Turning pro is out of the question for me right now, but you got to play it year by year. I hope to someday get to that level."

About Cabela's National Walleye Tour
Cabela's National Walleye Tour events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Lucas Oil, Evinrude, RAM, Mercury, Motor Guide, Jimmy John's, Minn Kota, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Stratos Boats, Lowrance, Protect the Harvest, BoatU.S., General Tire, SuperClean, Raymarine, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Powertex Group.