jay przekurat bassmaster elite records
Jay Przekurat, new Bassmaster Elite Series record holder; (photo/James Overstreet Photo)

23-Year-Old Shatters Records as Bassmaster Elite’s Youngest Champion

On July 17, the Bassmaster Elite Series crowned its youngest champion. If that wasn’t enough, Jay Przekurat also caught and weighed the heaviest tournament total of smallmouth bass ever recorded.

Wisconsinite Jay Przekurat had himself a day at the Bassmaster Elite Series’ latest stop in upstate New York. Przekurat became the tour’s youngest-ever tournament champion at 23 and its most successful smallmouth bass angler by weight. His massive 102-pound, 9-ounce haul on the St. Lawrence River made tourney history.

He beat out 90 boats piloted by some of the world’s best anglers to claim the win at the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite, which began on July 14. For Przekurat’s part, he’s taking it in stride as a step toward accomplishing his bigger goals.

Przekurat said of the victory:

It’s all still pretty surreal. Winning this tournament means a lot in terms of the goals I set for myself this year, which included winning Rookie of the Year (ROY) and qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.

The performance looks like it positions him solidly for both objectives. The 100 points he earned bumped him to 20th place in the Elite standings with two events left to fish. Insiders say both stops — Lake Oahe in South Dakota and the Mississippi River in his home state — play to Przekurat’s strengths.

The top 40 anglers of the season qualify for the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. And the impressive win helped the young angler extend his lead in the ROY race.

A super moon and rare, calm conditions produced ideal, record-breaking smallmouth fishing conditions for all competitors at the weekend tournament. And Przekurat came out head and shoulders above a talented pack despite never having fished St. Lawrence at Clayton, N.Y., before.

jay przekurat bassmaster elite records
(Photo/James Overstreet Photo)

It’s All About a Good Spot

According to Przekurat, his success boiled down to a conventional advantage in every angler’s strategy. He had this to say:

It came down to the two main areas I had. Fish had been pushing out, and there were other guys keyed into the right depths, but the areas I had were different because they were just loaded with bait. I think it was alewives or rainbow smelt — maybe both — and there were just hundreds of bass in there. I couldn’t have fished either of those areas out.

Przekurat said he primarily fished a Strike King Half Shell in the color Green Pumpkin on a drop shot. Regardless of his rig, he said his technique and ability to sight-fish ultimately keyed his big haul.

He recalled:

I was sight fishing most all of my fish and was able to watch the way they reacted to the bait. Once the early-morning bite tapered off each day, they wanted it super-fast … they needed to chase it. I’d burn the handle then let it fall 3 or 4 feet back to the bottom. You could see it excited the fish, so I just kept doing that until they bit, sometimes just once and other times it took three or four times.

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True in Life, True in Fishing

Asked if he had any advice for other anglers, the ROY contender shared an insight some might think would be beyond his years. Przekurat said:

What’s largely true in life is also true in fishing. Your gut is usually right, so try to avoid the temptation of complicating things by second-guessing yourself. I may have never had fished the east end of Lake Ontario before, but I just knew the game was going to be similar to what I’ve experienced my whole life fishing on Sturgeon Bay in Lake Michigan, and it turns out I was right.

Always trust your instincts — be confident in what you know and what you find.

jay przekurat bassmaster elite records
(Photo/James Overstreet Photo)

Przekurat thanked his sponsor, Whitewater Fishing, after his big win. After the August 18-21 Lake Oahe event, the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series concludes with a tournament in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on August 26-29 — 2 hours away from Przekurat’s home.

He can’t wait to get his line wet again. He said:

The end of the season is what I’ve been looking forward to all year. I always believed that if I was in contention for a Classic invitation and ROY after the first six tournaments, I could finish strong and achieve both of those goals.

We’d keep our eye on the newest (and youngest) Bassmaster Elite Series record-holder to do just that.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.