The Polish surname Przekurat (pronounced Shu-Ker-Rit) may bewilder Southerners with three consecutive consonants, but it’s well known among Midwest walleye fishermen. Jason Przekurat is one of the hosts on the popular The Next Bite television show. With two Angler of the Year titles and two National Walleye Tour Championship victories, the 51-year-old is also one of the most accomplished tournament walleye anglers.
This fall, the Przekurat surname once again garnered fishing headlines, but it wasn’t Jason, and it wasn’t for walleyes. A 22-year-old Wisconsin river rat did the unthinkable; he qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series during his rookie season on the Bassmaster Opens.
The road to the Elites started from the back deck for Jay Przekurat. In 2019, the younger Przekurat won the Grand Lake Central Open as a co-angler. One year later, he claimed another co-angler title on unfamiliar waters — this time at the Eastern Open on Lay Lake in central Alabama.
“With those two wins, I had enough saved to fish the Opens the following year on the pro side,” said the Stevens Point, Wis., native. “The plan was to fish both the Central and Southern Opens, and my goal was just to cash some checks. After two successful Central events, it all of a sudden hit me. If I catch them over the next two days, this could actually be a reality.”
Steady like his father, Przekurat did just that, bringing in a two-day total of 23-11, which placed him 21st in the Grand Lake tournament, but more importantly second overall in the Central Opens points race.
“I’ve always wanted to fish full time,” explained the younger Przekurat. “To be able to make the Elite Series in my first year, it’s unbelievable. It’s crazy that it happened this fast.”
Walleye fans across the country might be wondering where Jason went wrong raising his son. After all, walleyes reign supreme in Wisconsin, followed closely by cheese curds and the Green Bay Packers.
“It all started when I was about 11,” recalled Przekurat. “My dad thought I was ready to hold my own as a team partner. We fished the PWA Spring Classic on the Wisconsin River. It’s a combination walleye and bass tournament. You fish for three bass and three walleyes each day for a total of 12 fish (over two days). It was in that tournament my dad ended up catching the biggest largemouth anyone has ever seen on that stretch of the river. That was the moment I realized I wanted to bass fish.”
Truth be told, the elder Przekurat still spends ample time chasing bass.
“Most people don’t realize I rarely walleye fish unless I’m in a tournament or filming a show,” said the NWT pro. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to walleyes, so I’m pretty much targeting bass when I’m fun fishing at home. To me, bass fishing is more fun and is faster paced. Over the years, Jay and I spent more time bass fishing together. I never pushed him into walleyes at all.”
The senior Przekurat has pondered a switch to the bass side himself, but he’s keenly aware of the learning curve.
“To really understand those different fisheries, you're looking at a lengthy learning curve. At my age, it’s just too much of a commitment. For Jay, it makes perfect sense. The first thing we talked about was, ‘How are you going to learn those bodies of water?’ I told him he needed to fish as a co-angler. I was a walleye co-angler for one year, and the amount I learned was ridiculous. That information is invaluable. Jay got lucky and drew some really good anglers like Patrick Walters and Brandon Cobb. He gained all that information and then was able to apply it himself.”
“Dad is my biggest supporter, but he also lets me do my own thing,” said the young Nitro pro. “He’ll chime in, and for the most part, I’ll listen. I’ll admit that overall, he’s still better than me at being able to dissect a body of water.”
“I admit I’m biased, but what he’s done over these last five years, with the time and effort he’s put in, is incredible,” said the senior Przekurat. "To be honest with you, I'm going to be hands off. It’s his journey. The last few years, I’ve been trying to get him prepared mentally. I’ve given him what I can; now it’s up to him. I’m going to let him fly on his own and just be his biggest fan. Once he gets that little bit of knowledge, it’s amazing to watch him put the pieces together. I would not at all be shocked if he qualified for the Classic in his first year.”
While the dirtier Wisconsin River is home water, Przekurat frequently fishes Wisconsin’s deep, natural smallmouth lakes. Not surprisingly, he names Chris and Cory Johnston among his angling idols.
“I would have to say that I’m pretty good at fishing current with swim jigs and that type of stuff. Our Wisconsin River is like a mini La Crosse. However, I absolutely love smallmouth fishing in clear water, especially when you can see ‘em, so I can’t wait to fish the St. Lawrence. I think what helps me the most is having an open mind. Most of these guys have tons of knowledge on these lakes. I counter that with technology. Over the last year and a half I’ve gotten really good with my Humminbird electronics. It’s completely changed the way I fish. It gives me the confidence to go out on a brand new body of water and bring in a good bag.”
With the elder Przekurat venturing north of the Mason-Dixon line, the younger Przekurat plans to travel and share lodging with fellow Elite Series rookie Alex Redwine.
“In my eyes, a successful rookie season means I establish myself, build a good reputation, cash a few checks and put myself in contention for the Classic. It will be a wild ride, that’s for sure.”
In addition to Nitro and Humminbird, Przekurat’s 2022 sponsors include: Whitewater clothing, Mercury Marine, Bass Pro Shops, Strike King, Lew’s, Minn Kota, Hard Core Waterfowl, Butch’s Archery, Waterland Fishing Sunglasses, Fin Gear and WorldWide Marine Insurance.