Przekurat Adjusts To Maintain Lead In Bassmaster Elite Event At St. Lawrence

Jay Przekurat had never fished the St. Lawrence River/Lake Ontario prior to this week, but drawing on similar experience from other fisheries, he caught a Day 3 limit of 24 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to maintain his lead in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.

After catching 26-13 on Day 1 and 25-8 on Day 2, Przekurat, who hails from Stevens Point, Wis., holds the lead going into Championship Sunday with a three-day total of 77-1.

With a margin of 2-15 over Bob Downey of Detroit Lakes, Minn., Przekurat said the scope of his current standing is starting to sink in.

“I’m kind of speechless, to be honest,” Przekurat said. “The last few days have been nothing but stellar. I can almost do nothing wrong. If I lose a fish or break off a fish, I can go somewhere else and catch another big one.

“We do a lot of this type of fishing back home. I fish Sturgeon Bay a lot and it fishes almost identically to this place. I love fishing the Great Lakes and I love catching big smallmouth. I guess I just have a knack for it this week.”

Essential to Przekurat’s success was knowing when to pull the plug on the area that had produced most of his action the past two days. Located in a bay south of the river mouth, Przekurat’s starting spot was a classic postspawn setup with lots of baitfish providing ample feeding opportunities.

“I caught two of my keepers there on a drop shot, but I think the pressure is getting to those fish,” Przekurat said. “Also, it would have helped if there was a little bit of a breeze there (like previous days). You have pressure and slick calm water — they get smart pretty fast.

“I left my main area around 10 and started to run back. I stopped on my secondary area and that’s where I caught my big fish (a 6-10) and filled my limit. They were there and they were biting.”

Przekurat noted that he figured out a specific bait and presentation that triggered the bass on his second spot. He kept those details confidential, but said he believes he can repeat his success on Championship Sunday after giving his first spot a fair look.

Even before anglers arrived for practice, many floated the notion of this event producing the first Century Club entry (100 pounds over four days) comprising all smallmouth. More than 3/4 of the way to that unprecedented achievement, Przekurat addressed this premise with a confident grin.

“I think I’m in a good position,” he said. “I only need about 23 pounds and out here, that’s nothing.”

Downey caught a Day 3 limit of 25-10 and placed second with 74-2. Building on his first two days’ weights of 22-13 and 25-11, he improved from his Day 2 position of eighth.

Committed to the St. Lawrence River, Downey said his third day was mostly a template of the previous two, except for an extra level of thoroughness that provided a key upgrade.

“I caught four off of one area that I’ve been starting on each day,” he said. “I’ve been getting a limit off that spot each day and I only got four today. But one was a 6 1/2-pounder, another was 5 1/2 and then there were a couple of other good ones.”

Downey left the spot for a while but returned during the afternoon hours to catch a smallmouth that helped his cause.

“I went back to that spot around 2 o’clock to try and catch a decent one because I still had a 4-pounder in my bag,” he said. “My first drift, I caught one (approximately 4 3/4 pounds).”

Elite veteran Greg Hackney of Gonzalez, La., is in third with 73-1 after being impressively consistent with daily catches of 24-4, 24-12 and 24-1.

“I sight fished a lot of them,” Hackney said of the shallow flat he’s working just outside the river mouth. “I caught some off the bed the first day, but the (bed fish) are all gone. These fish are just cruising in packs.

“It does seem like if I can find multiples, it’s easier to get one of them to bite just out of aggression. One will go at it and when it does, it will fire another one to eat. Regardless of how it turns out, this has literally been one of the most fun tournaments I’ve ever fished.”

Throwing mostly a tube, Hackney assembled a limit of approximately 21 pounds within the first 20 minutes Saturday.

“I hadn’t even got the trolling motor down or turned my depthfinders on, I looked over and saw a 4-pounder on a rock,” he said. “I caught that one, got everything set up and caught another 4-pounder. It was phenomenal.”

Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors for biggest bass of the week with a 6-12. Shane LeHew of Catawba, N.C., earned the daily $1,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass award Saturday for his 6-11.

Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn., holds the lead for the VMC Monster Bag with his 27-15 limit from Day 1.

Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 612 points. David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., moved into 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 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 455 points. Foutz is second with 444, followed by Cody Huff of Ava, Mo., with 388, Joseph Webster of Hamilton, Ala., with 386, and Josh Douglas of Isle, Minn., with 348.

The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off at 7 a.m. ET Sunday from the Antique Boat Museum. The weigh-in will be held at the museum at 3 p.m., with the winning angler taking home $100,000.

Coverage will be available on and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live with the tournament leaders beginning at 8 a.m.

The Bassmaster Elite at St Lawrence River is being hosted by Jefferson County in cooperation with the 1000 Islands Clayton Chamber of Commerce.