December 25, 2020
You might thing that being the offspring of a top-tier walleye pro Jason Przekurat (pronounced Sha-Cure-Et) might genetically program a young angler with the toothy fish obsession. Actually, Jay Przekurat calls himself more of bass guy.
In his Wisconsin River home waters, the 21-year-old from Stevens Point, Wisc. targets a mix of green and brown types, while his journeys south to fish Bassmaster Open events have frequently put spotted bass on his radar. More on that in a minute. For now, Przekurat notes that he catches plenty of walleye — just not always intentionally.
“I don’t really fish walleye tournaments, but I like catching them by jigging plastics on the river,” he said. “The walleyes tend to hang out with the bass on the river. That’s what has helped me because you can basically target two species of fish and they kind of relate to cover similarly.
“Anywhere there’s rock-to-wood transitions or current breaks. Like you’ll come into a bank and there’ll be this nice current break with log jams piled up on the bottom. A lot of walleyes will stack up in a spot like this. That’s how I catch a lot of my walleyes—when I’m actually bass fishing.”
Przekurat’s favorite way to target bass is covering lots of wood-strewn water with a Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig. He’ll use a white Strike King 3.25 Rage Swimmer for his trailer when he’s targeting smallmouth hunting baitfish in current. For largemouth, he likes a 4-inch white or black and blue Strike King Menace trailer, which better mimics the bluegill and crawfish the big heads prefer.
Traveling south for Bassmaster competition has given him the opportunity to learn the ways and tendencies of spotted bass. Drawing on his bronzeback skills, he’s proven he can catch this southern darling; as evidenced by Przekurat’s recent co-angler victory at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Alabama’s Lay Lake.
“A smallmouth and a spotted bass are similar because they’re both super aggressive fish,”
he said. “When they see something come by them, it’s like ‘I gotta have that.’”
That being said, he has come to recognize regional differences in bass behavior.
“I’ve learned more about spotted bass in the last two years of traveling down south because they set up differently,” he said. “They like to suspend and chase bait everywhere.
“They could be in 70 feet of water, two feet under the surface, whereas a smallmouth up by me will live in 2 feet of water on a boulder. There’s definitely been a learning curve, but the biggest thing that has helped me is the aggression.”
As Przekurat explains, an aggressive fish—particularly a spotted bass—is a forgiving fish; at least, a less discerning one.
“You can get away with more things to get them to bite than you can with largemouth,” he said. “They’re more opportunistic. Even if it’s not the perfect cast or the perfect conditions, it seems like spotted bass like to eat.”
Learning to leverage this aggression with baits such as dropshots, shaky heads and Carolina rigs, Przekurat put on a strong spotted bass showing on Lay. His winning total included a 4-pound spot from Day 2, a 3-pounder that anchored his Day-3 limit.
Circling back to the largemouth for a moment, he said he’s seen a dramatic difference in the way this species behaves up north, versus southern fish. In a nutshell, largemouth living in warmer latitudes can be far more demanding—but for good reason.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how much (southern largemouth) change with the weather changes,” he said. “Up north, these fish only have five to six months out of the year to eat and then they have 3 feet of ice over their heads.
“Whereas, in the south, anglers are fishing them all year round, so they’re constantly seeing baits. What I’ve learned is how well you need to present your bait, how you have to be concerned with what it looks like. When the weather changes, those fish in the south can shut down and you’ll have to go to something completely different.”
On The Job Training
Back home, Przekurat rarely has to make such changes, as his local fish are more accustomed to cold weather. He believes that experiencing southern fisheries and dealing with more persnickety bass has made him a better angler.
“It’s definitely been a big eye-opener to see that a southern fish won’t bite every day, every hour of the day,” he said. “These fish see the same baits over and over and over; in a 250-boat tournament, they’re getting pounded, but sometimes they’ll bite if you show them something different.
“It’s crazy how much of a difference just going from a partially white color jerkbait to a shiny jerkbait that dives 2 feet deeper can make. It can be the difference in getting the bite on an 8-foot brush pile.”
On the flipside, some of the skill sets he has acquired in southern competition are finding their way into his northern game.
“Back home, we throw the wacky rig, but then they came out with the Ned rig and the Neko rig and that stuff’s really starting to take off up north. Those fish have never seen these rigs.
“Before, I didn’t think about being that precise in what I was throwing, because we always get bit. But that could be the difference in getting three more bites a day in a tournament and that could be what you need for a win.”
To that point, Przekurat’s planning to step to the front of the boat in 2021 and compete as a Bassmaster Opens pro. The ultimate goal—qualifying to fish the Bassmaster Elites.
Safe bet, his growing experience and insight into the trio of black bass tournament species will serve him well.