Elite

Daily Limit: Przekurat makes name for himself

If you didn’t know the name Jay Przekurat — and how to correctly pronounce it — you certainly should by now.

The bass fishing world has been abuzz about Przekurat (Sha-Cure-Et), the first-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Stevens Point, Wis. While he’s led the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings much of 2022, Przekurat broke through big-time last month by winning the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River.

Joining a handful of rookies to win Elite tournaments, Przekurat added several extraordinary accolades to his title — youngest Elite champion and the first to win with more than 100 pounds of smallmouth.

After totaling 102 pounds, 9 ounces, to top a murderer’s row of smallmouth assassins on July 17, Przekurat has been mobbed by media, appearing on most every bassin’ media outlet.

Giving time for his accomplishments to sink in, Przekurat was recently asked what stood out most about his week at the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario.

“Other than the win?” he said. “That would have to be the biggest, by far. That’s everything that I’ve dreamed about doing. Basically my life’s revolved around that.”

Holding a blue Elite trophy is the vision of aspiring anglers, even ones who grew up in the house of a successful walleye pro. Jay’s dad, Jason Przekurat, won two walleye angler of the year titles and two major tournament victories. Considering that, the Daily Limit wanted to know how Jay ended up in B.A.S.S.

“I’d say the biggest reason was, when I started (competitive) fishing at like 13, that was when the high school fishing and all the clubs, the B.A.S.S. Nation, blew up,” he said. “There were so many more opportunities around my hometown to fish tournaments, and it was pretty much bass.”

So pops didn’t try to influence you in any fashion to follow in his footsteps?

“No, not at all,” he said. “Whenever me and my dad went fun fishing around home, it would always be for bass. He would never want to go fun fishing for walleye.

“I think he was more pushing me toward the direction I was going, so it was an easy decision for me.”

Although Jay has caught his fair share of walleye, it’s definitely not his bag.

Do you even like walleye fishing?

“Uh, not really, no,” he said. “I mean, it’s just the overall things you do to catch bass vs. things you do to have to catch walleye. It’s a bit different. I’m sure you know the whole trolling aspect rather than going up and throwing a frog at some lily pads.”

Bass anglers are certainly more active and varied in their approaches, and learning those ropes is in part why Przekurat is exceling on the Elites. Wisconsin offers anglers a wide variety of tactics, from fishing lakes and river backwaters for largemouth to big smallmouth waters like Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan.

“The amount of places we have to fish for bass is unbelievable,” he said. “Our places are so diverse. Within two hours of my house, I can name off 20-plus different things I can do on a body of water.”

That diversity has served him well on the Elites. Przekurat made both cuts in the season-opening Florida events, nabbing the ROY lead after a 14th at the Harris Chain. He climbed to ninth in AOY after a 24th at Santee Cooper Lakes, but he slipped two spots despite making the cut at Chickamauga.

A first-time visit to Lake Fork produced Przekurat’s worst finish at 74th, but he didn’t fall out of the ROY lead until after his second consecutive missed cut. A 66th at Pickwick dropped him near the Classic bubble at 36th in AOY and back to third in ROY.

The St. Lawrence River, the seventh event, put Przekurat back in heaven. If plopped down blind on his winning spot on Ontario, Pzrekurat said it might take him a couple minutes to figure out he wasn’t near home in Sturgeon Bay.

“It’s like all the Great Lakes, the bottom structure is super similar. You could definitely see a couple differences, a few different baitfish,” he said. “You’re looking for the same types of bottom, the mixes. It’s the same things the gobies hang around, and that stuff tends to stay similar throughout the Great Lakes system, minus in the actual St. Lawrence River, which is different because of all the current.”

On Day 1 in Ontario, Pzrekurat reported only having two fish when he turned to see baitfish jumping and joined that action. He posted 5-pounder after 5-pounder on BassTrakk and ending up culling to 26-13, good for second. He took the lead after 25-8 on Day 2, then 24-12 sent him into Championship Sunday with 77-1, the only one on pace to break 100 pounds.

“I definitely thought it was possible. Everything just has to go so perfect. You can’t lose two or three of them, or you’re done,” he said of earning a Century Belt. “Weather is half the battle, but anything could happen. Mechanically, something doesn’t work. It could be something as small as that.”

Przekurat began Championship Sunday needing 22-15 for a belt, and he eased some tension with an early 6-pounder to back a 4-pounder. He passed the 100-pound mark on BassTrakk in late morning and culled to 25-8 for his winning total.

While Cory Johnston weighed in earlier with 100-5, Przekurat became the 38th angler and the 54th instance of 100 pounds in B.A.S.S. The St. Lawrence increases B.A.S.S. belt fisheries to nine, and 2022 is the first season where three Elite events were won with more than 100 pounds.

Przekurat said he also found some satisfaction in winning at Canadian brothers Cory and Chris Johnston’s stronghold, doling some vengeance as they’ve won Sturgeon Bay Opens in his stomping grounds. After the win, Przekurat said his biggest feat was taking over as youngest Elite champ at 23 years, 26 days. Casey Ashley was 23 years, 4 months and 9 days when he won on Smith Mountain in 2007.

“Yeah, I would have to say the youngest angler,” said Przekurat, who wouldn’t be surprised if he’s supplanted in the near future. “It wasn’t a goal, but it was something in the back of my head. I knew I had to do it this year. I wasn’t really aware how old Casey Ashley was.”

Przekurat is back on track to attain both the goals he began the season with — ROY and qualifying for the Classic. He climbed 16 spots to 20th in AOY and holds an 11-point lead over fellow rookie Jacob Foutz heading into events in his wheelhouse. The Elites travel to the smallmouth fishery of Lake Oahe in South Dakota, where Przekurat pre-practiced, before closing the year at the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis., two hours from his home.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” he said. “I get to go to places that I’ve been to, and I have so much confidence in, rather than sending me down to like Lake Fork, where I’d never been to.”

At Oahe, Przekurat said he expects there will be a number of 5-pounders caught, super tight weights and plenty of wind. At La Crosse, he might play just try to hold serve with ROY on the line.

“We can lock, but I’ll probably end up playing more conservative in that tournament just because of the points, rather than try to go for the win and getting crazy,” he said. “I feel like I have a little bit of an advantage, not a ton just because I haven’t fished it as much as I would have liked to. I got some decent pre-practice in over there, and I’ve fished some tournaments that time of year. I know how it sets up when it’s low. I’m excited for that one.”

We know it. And we also know your name.