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Earlier this month in Clayton, NY, the fishing world got to witness history in real time. Lew’s & Strike King team member Jay Przekurat, a 23-year, 26-day old Bassmaster Elite Series rookie from Stevens Point, Wisc. became the youngest Elite Series Champion & set a record for the heaviest winning weight for a four-day weight of smallmouth bass with his 102lb, 9oz total, earning a coveted Century Belt for eclipsing 100lbs in a four-day event.
The numbers throughout the event were staggering, with more five-pound and bigger smallmouth weighed in than fish under four pounds - with Przekurat’s performance each day being the most remarkable of the event. He brought 26-13 to the scales on day one to land in second place. He added 25-8 on day two to take the lead with 52 pounds, 5 ounces. His daily weight slipped slightly to 24 pounds, 12 ounces, but retained his lead with a total of 77 pounds and an ounce. He finished of the event with 25-8 on the final day to bring his record setting total of 102 pounds, 9 ounces.
The son of a highly successful Professional Walleye Angler and Lew’s and Strike King Walleye pro, Jason Pzrekurat, the younger Przekurat showed tremendous composure in navigating one of the most memorable events in Bassmaster tournament history. To those who know him, that was not an unusual occurrence. His father, a Master’s Walley Circuit Champion and two-time Angler of the Year, said that his son has been focused on this career for many years. “He is different than so many young men his age,” said the senior Pzrekurat backstage prior to the final day weigh-in. “He doesn’t watch TV, he studies and learns as much about fishing as he can, it doesn’t surprise me to see him performing well, but I couldn’t have dreamt of seeing a performance like this.”
The PatternWhen it comes to smallmouth fishing on the Great Lakes, there have been a couple of baits over the years that have become the darlings of the community. However effective those have been, there is only one lure that can claim to be the lure that won an event with a record setting weight, and that is a Strike King Half Shell dropshot bait. Przekurat reported that nearly all of the 20 fish that he brought to the Elite Series scales at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY came on the green pumpkin colored Halfshell.
He said he tried many, but it was the Halfshell that got the right bites. “I went through a lot of different baits in practice, but the Halfshell produced bigger bites,” he said. “It has a very subtle action that didn’t turn these fish off in the clear, calm water, and the green pumpkin color almost has a translucent look in the water that looked so natural, and they ate it up.”
Przekurat spent all four days of the event fishing a dropshot in Lake Ontario, around the Chaumont and Black River Bay areas. He targeted postspawn fish in depths from 18 to 20 feet early in the event, then moved shallower to the 8 to 12-foot range, all with a dropshot.
His complete setup included a 6’10” Medium Extra Fast Lew’s Signature Series Mark Zona spinning rod paired with the new Lew’s Custom Lite CL300 spinning reel spooled with 15-pound-test braided main line and an 8-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. He rigged his Halfshell on a size 2 Finesse Dropshot Hook and a 1/4-ounce tungsten dropshot weight.
He said the setup had a lot to do with his ability to land the fish once they were hooked. “The rod has to be soft enough to feel the fish without them feeling you, but has the power to control them, and this rod was all of that,” he said. “The new Custom Lite reel made a big difference because of the drag system. It’s all new and I know there are fish that came into my boat because of that drag.”
A Family AffairA contingent of people that included Przekurat’s father and his girlfriend drove through the night after day three to be there for the final day weigh-in. For the younger Przekurat, knowing that they made that effort had an impact on him. “I see them standing here after putting out all that effort is so amazing,” he said. “It really means a lot to have them here to share this with me.”
For the senior Przekurat, who was at times overcome with pride of his son, and emotion backstage, it was the only thing to do. “I had to be here, said Mr. Przekurat. “He has impressed me so much with his focus and his effort into this career, I couldn’t be prouder of him than I am.
“He knew at 11 years old that he wanted to fish, and he has worked at it. From his marketing degree to the way he went after fishing the Opens to qualify after one year and now this,” he said with the quivering voice of a father who is a fan of his son. “I am so proud of him, and so happy to be here to participate in his moment.”