Elite

Przekurat’s origin story includes a pro angler father

Elite pro Jay Przekurat (right) and his father, Jason, pose with the rookie's big blue Elite trophy.

Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Jay Przekurat turned a lot of heads and raised more than a few eyebrows during the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River, all while breaking out an eraser and rewriting a good chunk of the B.A.S.S. record books.

In 20 swings of the rod, Przekurat became the youngest angler to ever win an Elite Series event at 23 years and 26 days old. He also became the first Elite Series angler ever to enter into the illustrious Bassmaster Century Club with all smallmouth, amassing 102-pounds, 9-ounces of bronzebacks in just four days.

Those storylines though, as impressive as they are, have been well documented. What has perhaps flown a little under the radar until now is a very interesting factoid about Przekurat’s lineage.

Son of an angler

Jay’s father, Jason Przekurat, is actually a seasoned professional angler as well on the walleye circuits. The elder Przekurat even won a national tour level event in 2007 on the Mississippi River, collecting $100,000 in winnings for that event alone.

“I think he’s been doing it full time for 20 years or more now,” Jay said of his father’s professional fishing career. “Just the tournaments and the business side of things, the seminars and all that.”

It’s no surprise that an angler as accomplished as Jay at such a young age comes from good fishing stock. But it is interesting to see the career path didn’t translate directly and instead jumped species. 

“The only time we’d fish for walleye is when we had little tournaments on the river where it was three bass and three walleyes. I went out fishing for walleye with him a handful of times. Never any serious tournaments.”

“Every time me and my dad would go out for fun, it would always be for bass. When he’d be on the road he’d be fishing for walleye in a tournament, and when he’d come home he’d want to fish for something else.”

A big impression

Though the species was different, having an inside look at his father’s professional fishing career made a tremendous impression on young Jay growing up.

“As far as the mental side of fishing and learning electronics and things like that, he’s the one that’s taught me 100% of all that stuff. And without that, I wouldn’t have had the head start that I’ve had being so young.”

The value of having a father who fishes doesn’t stop at the technical side of things though. A lot of young anglers daydream about being professional fishermen with nothing more than a highlight reel of hooksets and trophy shots on a big screen TV to look up to. The reality of being a full-time professional fishermen is far less glamorous the majority of the time. Thanks to Jay’s father, he wasn’t caught off guard by that reality later in life.

“Fishing the Elite Series is everybody’s dream. I knew if I ever got to that point, I knew the reality of what it would be like. Mainly because he was fishing the highest level of walleye tournaments, and I assumed that the difference between the two probably wasn’t that much. You’re still doing the same things. You have to travel. You have to stay in the crappy places. You have to travel by yourself, eat by yourself, all the same stuff.”

Knowing what he was getting into helped Jay weigh the reality of it all. His father’s career and the level of competition also helped lessen the intimidation factor for Jay a bit, as he began to compete against talented anglers in several different situations.

Quality competition

Jay’s fishing prowess and instincts were regularly tested and honed as he attempted to hang with high-caliber anglers. Seeing his father compete against quality competition and doing well also helped model to young Jay that he could do the same, if he worked hard at it.

“That helped too. It was like two ends of the spectrum. You had the best of the best on the walleye side, and the best of the best on the bass side. And then you also had the third alley where it was the best of the best in local tournaments.”

“At the end of the day, all these guys are fishermen, and they’re trying to do the same thing you’re doing. And if you can put yourself up against the best of the best in each division and at least stay in contention, or stay somewhat consistent, you’re not as nervous to start fishing against a group of anglers like on the Bassmaster Opens or the Elite Series.”

Jay continued on through his teenage years honing his skills and regularly testing them against strong competition. By the end of high school, he had fished a few high school tournaments with his father serving as the boat captain. It was time for Jay to make a decision on whether or not to go to college, or to continue towards a career in fishing. He chose both.

Making the choice

Jay enrolled in Mid-State Technical College and began working toward a degree, while at the same time continuing to fish competitively.

“My original plan was to get a degree and get a job right out of tech school and see where I went from there. I got an associate degree in marketing and a technical diploma in digital marketing.”

Opting to continue his education in something that would serve him well both in a traditional job as well as a professional angler, Jay did more than leave his options open, he expanded them.

“That was the other thing that we talked about when I was going for that degree. It was going to help me either way, whatever happened. Because I knew I wanted to work somewhere in the industry.”

Perhaps we’d have known where Jay wound up in a more traditional role in the industry had it not been for a phone call from a friend. The call helped Jay avoid a path diverting in the wood and instead allowed him to walk both simultaneously.

Co-angler championships

“My first year of college, a buddy from up in Sturgeon Bay asked if I wanted to fish the Opens as a co-angler, because he was going to fish them as a boater.”

While still in school, Jay won two co-angler titles on the Bassmaster Opens in consecutive seasons — the 2019 Bassmaster Central Open at Grand Lake and the 2020 Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lay Lake.

“After I won my second one I had enough funding to go out and buy a boat, and that was when I decided I was going to fish a division of the Bassmaster Opens as a boater. That was the first moment where I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try this for a year, see how I can contend with these guys that have been doing it for years and just see where I stand.’”

The rest is, as they say, history. Jay went on to qualify for Elite Series in his first year competing in the Opens. And now, after his seventh Elite Series event, he’s the proud owner of his first blue trophy. And of course proud papa Jason was there to see him claim it.

Winning an Elite

Jason was actually fishing a walleye tournament close to the Przekurats’ home on Days 1 and 2 of the St. Lawrence Elite event, but he was a little distracted.

“Apparently, he could hardly even fish the walleye tournament. He cared more about how I was doing. When I was still in first place after Day 3, they drove 15 hours through the night and made it just to watch me weigh in.”

The pride of a father in a son is a powerful thing. And when it comes to accomplishing what Jay was on the precipice of achieving, the awareness and appreciation of such a feat to a father who fishes is incomparable.

“I think he was more excited for me than I was excited for myself. He has more years on me, where he can realize what I just did. I’ll need more years under my belt to realize what I just did.”

That’s as humble and mature a statement as a 23-year-old Elite Series champion and B.A.S.S. multi-record holder could make.

Jay currently leads the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with only two events remaining. Perhaps a little more hardware is headed his way? Only time will tell.