Prior to this event, no angler in recorded sportfishing history had ever reached 100 pounds solely with smallmouth. But with a rare stretch of calm, sunny weather and Wednesday’s super moon igniting the fish, Przekurat did just that.
His feat earned him a spot in the prestigious Bassmaster Century Club, which recognizes a four-day total of 100 pounds. It also earned him one of the most prestigious trophies in pro fishing and the $100,000 top prize.
“Trying to take in the moment during the day of the tournament is pretty hard because you’re just focused on catching 5-pounders out there,” Przekurat said. “You’re running back to the ramp and you start getting a little emotional. There’s no other feeling like it.”
Technically, second-place finisher Cory Johnston of Cavan, Canada, was the first to enter the Century Club with all smallmouth. Starting Championship Sunday in eighth place, Johnston took the stage before Przekurat and tallied 100-5.
Nevertheless, Przekurat said winning against a final field stacked with heavy hitters was particularly rewarding.
“One of my goals was to beat the Johnston brothers (Cory and sixth-place Chris),” Przekurat joked. “They’ve been coming to my home waters of Sturgeon Bay and taking our money for years, so I had to come over here and take theirs this time.”
Przekurat started the event with his biggest catch — a 26-13 limit that put him 1-2 behind Day 1 leader and fellow rookie Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn. Adding 25-8 on Day 2 sent Przekurat into Semifinal Saturday with a 1-13 lead over Cory Johnston.
Weighing 24-12 on Day 3 extended his advantage to a margin of 2-15 over Bob Downey of Detroit Lakes, Minn. Przekurat surged across the finish line with a final catch of 25-8 and edged Johnston by 2-4.
Przekurat caught his fish on a drop shot with a green pumpkin Strike King Half Shell. He used a No. 2 Gamakatsu G-Finesse drop-shot hook and a 1/4-ounce tungsten cylinder weight.
Przekurat spent all four days in Lake Ontario, south of Chaumont Bay. His starting spot was the north bank of Black River Bay — a postspawn staging area in 15 to 20 feet where smallmouth were gorging on abundant baitfish.
When fishing pressure and calm conditions took their toll on the bite, he would relocate to another postspawn spot, this one in 8 to 12 feet outside of Chaumont Bay. Windy and rainy weather limited practice efforts, but fortunately, Przekurat found enough potential to last four days.
“I settled on these areas because that’s all I had and I really didn’t feel like exploring during the tournament,” he said. “I know in smallmouth tournaments, you need to hunker down and focus on fishing because you need to be catching 5-pounders. Sometimes, it takes a while to catch those fish.”
In addition to making history in the Century Club, Przekurat also became the youngest Elite Series champion. At 23 years and 26 days old, he broke the record previously held by Casey Ashley, who won the 2007 Elite on Smith Mountain Lake at 23 years, four months and nine days old — also in his rookie season.
Johnston spent all of his time in Lake Ontario, mostly near the Wolfe Island area. Looking for postspawn fish roaming the shallows, he caught the majority of his bass on a drop shot with a green pumpkin SPRO CJ Smasher.
Over the first three days, Johnston turned in limits of 26-3, 24-5 and 21-5. Day 4 saw him catch 28-8 — the event’s heaviest bag, which included a 6-1.
“That was my goal going into today — to catch 28 and break 100 pounds,” Johnston said. “I knew (Przekurat) was going to catch 24 to 25 pounds, so I did all I could out there. I left it all out there.”
Stetson Blaylock of Little Rock, Ark., finished third with 98-15. Buoying his performance with a monster Day 2 limit of 27-11, Blaylock opened with 21-15, then added 23-3 and 26-2 the last two days.
Spending most of his time on Lake Ontario, Blaylock caught most of his bass drop shotting a YUM Warning Shot. He also caught bass on a Ned rig with a 1/6-ounce head and a YUM Ned Dinger and a small swimbait.
“Day 2, when I had that big bag, I had two big ones that I caught in the river right in front of takeoff,” Blaylock said. “I caught some other good ones throughout the day, but those two fish were huge in that big bag that allowed me to be here on the final day.”
Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., won the $2,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 6-12 from Day 1. Cory Johnston earned the daily $1,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award for his 6-1 Sunday.
Cory Johnston also won the $2,000 VMC Monster Bag award with his catch of 28-8 on Championship Sunday.
Chris Zaldain of Fort Worth, Texas, took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Zaldain earned an additional $2,500 as the highest-placing entrant and North Carolina pro Shane LeHew claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
Ed Loughran III of Richmond, Va., won the $1,000 BassTrakk Contingency award for the most accurate weight reporting.
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, extended his lead in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 612 points. David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., is in second with 571, followed by John Cox of DeBary, Fla., with 561, Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., with 546 and Drew Benton of Blakey, Ga. with 527.
Przekurat leads the Falcon Rods Rookie of the Year standings with 455 points, followed Foutz (444), Cody Huff of Ava, Mo., (388), Joseph Webster of Hamilton, Ala., (386) and Josh Douglas of Isle, Minn., with 348.
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC 2022 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters
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2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River 7/14-7/17
St. Lawrence River, Clayton NY.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 4Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$1. Jay Przekurat Stevens Point, WI 20 102-09 100 $100,000.00
Day 1: 5 26-13 Day 2: 5 25-08 Day 3: 5 24-12 Day 4: 5 25-08
2. Cory Johnston Cavan CANADA 20 100-05 99 $38,000.00
Day 1: 5 26-03 Day 2: 5 24-05 Day 3: 5 21-05 Day 4: 5 28-08
3. Stetson Blaylock Benton, AR 20 98-15 98 $31,000.00
Day 1: 5 21-15 Day 2: 5 27-11 Day 3: 5 23-03 Day 4: 5 26-02
4. Chris Zaldain Fort Worth, TX 20 98-06 97 $25,000.00
Day 1: 5 21-08 Day 2: 5 23-11 Day 3: 5 27-04 Day 4: 5 25-15
5. Paul Mueller Naugatuck, CT 20 98-05 96 $20,000.00
Day 1: 5 25-09 Day 2: 5 21-10 Day 3: 5 25-12 Day 4: 5 25-06
6. Chris Johnston Otonabee Ontario CANADA 20 98-01 95 $19,000.00
Day 1: 5 24-10 Day 2: 5 24-06 Day 3: 5 22-10 Day 4: 5 26-07
7. Shane LeHew Catawba, NC 20 97-07 94 $19,000.00
Day 1: 5 18-13 Day 2: 5 25-09 Day 3: 5 27-06 Day 4: 5 25-11
8. Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 20 94-03 93 $17,000.00
Day 1: 5 24-04 Day 2: 5 24-12 Day 3: 5 24-01 Day 4: 5 21-02
9. Clark Wendlandt Leander, TX 20 92-04 92 $16,000.00
Day 1: 5 25-02 Day 2: 5 22-12 Day 3: 5 24-01 Day 4: 5 20-05
10. Bob Downey Detroit Lakes, MN 20 91-07 91 $15,000.00
Day 1: 5 22-13 Day 2: 5 25-11 Day 3: 5 25-10 Day 4: 5 17-05
———————————————————————–PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
1 Kyle Welcher Opelika, AL 06-12 $1,000.00
2 Stetson Blaylock Benton, AR 06-11 $1,000.00
3 Shane LeHew Catawba, NC 06-11 $1,000.00
4 Cory Johnston Cavan CANADA 06-01 $1,000.00———————————————————————–
PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Kyle Welcher Opelika, AL 06-12 $1,000.00
VMC MONSTER BAG
Cory Johnston Cavan, 28-08 $2,000.00———————————————————————–
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
1 90 450 1881-07
2 90 450 1845-01
3 47 235 1001-15
4 10 50 242-05
237 1185 4970-12