The recent National Professional Anglers Association annual conference followed its theme throughout. The conference theme, “Motivate and Inspire” held true to form when Jason Przekurat (Sha-KER-rit) shared secrets about his winning ways at a Breakout Session.
As a touring professional walleye angler, Jason has ranked in the top 10 in the Angler of the Year race nearly every year. He has won almost half a million dollars, is heavily sponsored, but the road to the top, he said, “Is all about hard work.”
Hard work is what life is about for this Stevens Point, Wisconsin angler. He fished a team walleye circuit for two and one-half years before cashing a check, but it was there he learned how to catch fish and become consistent. “It’s because I learned from everyone and listened to the top anglers at tournaments,” he said. The top anglers were those who won. “I wanted to know what they did, where and why they did it and that jump-started my learning curve,” Jason said.
People fish tournaments based on what information they’ve gathered from previous trips or the time spent on the water prior to the event. “Be willing to change game plans from pre-fishing, because for me, it happens 90 percent of the time,” he said, “Never assume things will stay the same.” The top professional anglers are the best at knowing when to adapt based on an assessment of the changes taking place (current, wind, water clarity, bait movement, etc.).
Jason wants a comprehensive understanding of the area he will fish competitively. He does this in his Ranger/Evinrude, learning the layout, finding weeds, stumps and rock piles and marking spots. “I use my electronics and drive, drive, drive,” he said. When he spots fish on the sonar, he tries to determine if they are residents or fish migrating through the area. “When I spot fish, I try to find other similar spots nearby,” he said. He also tries to compute how many fish might be picked off prior to tournament-time because others will find the same spot.
“To win, a pro angler must go out without worrying about others,” he said. He urged anglers to find their own spots away from the crowds, because he figured 75 percent of walleye tournaments are won away from the pack. Confidence earned from years on the water comes into play, but he offered this, “If you have to fish in a crowd, know the spot better than your competitors.”
He said he is never satisfied, and urged competitors to always look for bigger fish than they’re catching. Compare what’s happening to the tournament history on that body of water. “Duplicate patterns that are working. Most of all, fish your style while ignoring the clutter. When in position, go for the kill!” he said.
In his fishing career, Jason needed to cash checks to pay the mortgage, and fished to do just that. “At the time, it was my job,” he said. He also urged anglers to be realistic based on their pre-fishing. He said if he learned only one lesson worthy of passing along to other professional anglers, it was that fishing under pressure never works. “This could be financial, job, mental, marriage, family, or anything,” he said, “The carefree guys do it best.”
His solid string of top 10 Angler of the Year finishes was significantly thrown overboard when he jumped into fishing full-time in 2008, quitting his job at Gander Mountain. That decision coincided with the Great Recession and sponsors pulling back. To accommodate sponsors, he had to work four-times as hard. In 2008, he slipped to 36th overall, and in 2009, his wife notified him at a tournament she was diagnoses with breast cancer. He ended up 46th overall that year. She’s fully recovered, and his sponsors recognized value, and maintained support. “Things settled down and by 2010, I was back in sixth in the FLW Angler of the Year race. Now, life’s pretty good,” he said.
Jason won the 2000 MWC Championship with Eric Olson, was the 2003 and 2007 FLW Angler of the Year, won the 2007 FLW event in Red Wing and was the Ranger Cup Champion the same year. He has 32 top 10 finishes in his career.
He can be reached at JPfishing.net, and is sponsored by Hard Core/Bone Collector, Ranger, Evinrude, MinnKota, Humminbird, Cannon, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Pflueger, OffShore Tackle, LakeMaster, Amphibia and Hydrowave.
Logo courtesy National Professional Anglers Association