After winning two Bassmaster Opens over the past two years in the co-angler division, 22-year-old Jay Przekurat jumped to the boater side in 2021. He is now one tournament away from potentially claiming a spot at the next level.
After notching a 17th-place finish at the first 2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open at Pickwick Lake back in April, the Stevens Point, Wis., native recorded his first ever Top 10 cut at the second Central Open at Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama and finished seventh with a 24 pound, 15 ounce three-day total.
Not only did he claim a nice paycheck, Przekurat sits tied for second in the Central Opens standings with Brandon Lester heading into the final event of the season at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He currently has 378 points and is in the cut to make the 2022 Elite Series roster.
“It’s awesome, this is my first Top 10 as a pro and my first year fishing as a pro. This is great,” he said. “The most rewarding is when you take a top 40 and you look at the leaderboard and you beat these guys who have been doing it for years and years. Just that feeling that you can compete at this level and possibly get up to the next level, that’s everything.”
During his first two years in the Opens as a co-angler, Przekurat did not have a finish worse than 62nd and cashed five checks in eight tournaments, with wins at the 2019 Open on Grand and the 2020 Open on Lay Lake. The two victories provided the funding the young angler needed to make the jump to the professional division.
In his first year manning the boat in the Southern and Central Opens, Przekurat has continued the consistency he showed as a co-angler, finishing no worse than 79th thus far and cashing checks in three of the five events he has fished.
“It’s been a lot tougher than the co-side in my opinion, but it is still the same goal. You want to catch five fish every day,” he said. “The guy who catches five fish every day usually cashes a check, especially on these bodies of water this time of the year. When we go to more slugfest tournaments like in Florida, that was a big learning curve. I’m still learning, and I have a lot of bodies of water to fish in my life.”
As a Wisconsin native, Przekurat has seen a variety of different fisheries and learned how to be a versatile angler, which has helped him decipher the fisheries featured on the Opens schedule.
“The thing about Wisconsin is, we have everything,” he said. “We have a lot of guys from Wisconsin that do very well, and it’s because of how versatile our state is and our fisheries. The learning curve for the southern fisheries is, when you see baitfish and fish in general, slow down and dissect the area. Obviously, there are fish there for a reason.”
As a co-angler, he also learned a couple of things that have helped him succeed so far.
“Slowing down is the biggest thing. You don’t get yourself in a rush. As soon as you do and want to hit 80 spots, that usually never works out. For instance, (Day 1 at Smith Lake) we had that fog delay and my game plan was to run way up the west arm and then run up the east arm. I ended up staying here just because of the time, and I caught a nice bag. That’s one of the little things you take from being a co-angler, just slowing down. When you are behind someone, you have to slow down.”
Now, Przekurat will turn his attention to the lake he earned a co-angler victory in hopes of claiming an Elite Series bid and possibly winning the Central Opens title.
“I’m very excited for Grand,” he said. “We were there on Sept. 10 the first time. It will be similar, but they are going to be in this fall transition deal. I’m super excited. I’m sitting great in the points, and it is awesome.”