‘How’s Retired Life?’ People Keep Asking One of the Workingest Pro Anglers
Jan 19th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jan 19th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
When I went full time as a pro angler, lots of people I knew asked, ‘How’s retired life?’ They don’t get it, said Jason Przekurat. A glimpse at his annual calendar proves he’s a man on the move, and nowhere near retirement.
Jason is often known by his first name, because the central Wisconsin resident’s last name takes a while to comprehend. It’s pronounced Sha – cur – ette. In this Walleye First tournament series, it’s Jason. He’s always had a competitive bug, and after competing in muskie tournaments since high school, wanted to try a species that was more a mental game than a physical game.
That’s how his truck made it to Mille Lacs for a 1995 NAWA tournament. “Three days, three different pros, three different presentations, three different areas of the lake. I couldn’t believe how much I learned,” he said. The late Norb Wallock told him he had talent and challenged him to fish the entire NAWA season as an amateur. He did, and the next year jumped into the MWC in his new, bigger boat. “It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t know as much as I thought,” he said.
Three years later, he had not cashed a MWC check, but teaming with Eric Olson in 1999, the game began to take shape. They made the Championship, discovered a hot spot in Buffalo Slough at Red Wing, and blew the field away. “My wife knew I had the passion, and urged me to continue doing what I loved,” Jason said. The next year, he had the opportunity to win the RCL Championship since he qualified via the MWC win, and led after two days, finishing sixth.
“Since then, I’ve had a pretty good run,” he said. That included 2003 RCL Angler of the Year and 2007 FLW Angler of the Year, winner of the 2007 FLW Mississippi River tournament, 2007 Ranger Cup winner, a total of 30 top-10 place finishes, and career earnings of $384,595.
In 2007, he became a full time pro angler. He now works with more sponsors than previously, and most have been with him since 2000. “Sponsorship money is definitely more than five years ago as I moved up the ladder with many companies.” Upon his move to full time, Jason said he asked his sponsors what they wanted him to do for them. Their collective answer, “Be ready to work all week long when and where needed.” He said, “Yes, I’m working harder for my sponsors than ever before. There are more opportunities to promote and market than at any time in the history of fishing.”
A look at Jason’s annual schedule proves very revealing. For instance, when sponsored by BP, he worked numerous charity events, and travelled extensively for them. He currently does about 30 in-store sales promotions and training sessions on his own. He stops at retail stores to answer questions, explains the features and benefits of rods, reels, tackle, electronics, trolling motors, fishing tactics and more. “I want to make it easier for salesmen to sell,” he said.
“I do 20 to 40 seminars and in-house engagements for sponsors,” he said. He also conducts an extremely rewarding career day at Mosinee, Wisconsin High School on how to turn passion into a career. Interviews, filming and media events occupy many days each season. Another 20 days are devoted to on-water commitments such as taking key VIP fishing trips and demo rides for boat and outboard sponsors.
Another 10 to 20 days are face-to-face with engineers sharing ideas and recommendations about product development, “I’ve become more involved and confident and find these meetings the funnest thing to do as a pro angler,” Jason said, “It’s rewarding to see my ideas incorporated.”
He fishes about four or five days with his family, but takes his 9 and 11 year old sons across the road from the house and fishes the pond as often as possible. He did 11 youth events last year, and participates at every youth event at every tournament. “I love it, and have been doing youth events since way back,” he said. In 2011, son Jay turns 12, and he will fish a couple local tournaments with him.
He does a National Guard soldier fishing day and also takes his truck and boat to a Chevy night at each FLW tournament. He also is on the water at George Liddle corporate events, and believe it or not, he still guides on the Wisconsin River near home 12 to 15 trips per year.
Oh, and add in the AIM and FLW tours and Championships of at least a week each, and somewhere another 11 or so weeks disappear. New last year was a venture with pros Scott Steil and Mark Courts, where all three stream live video on their website onthewaterlive.com. “I caught a 10-pounder at the Red Wing FLW, and saw that 1,100 people were watching me on their computers,” he said.
But, his goal is to be a pro angler the rest of his life. “It’s taken 16 years to get here, and if I watch my business plan, this will take care of itself,” he said. Originally, he felt the formula was to make 80 percent of his income from sponsorships, guiding and appearances, with 20 percent from winnings. “However, since 2009, that formula has dipped to 60/40,” he said, “And, if the ratio flip-flops, this won’t work.” He admitted, “It’s a tough way to make a living, but I love it.”
When he had his big years, he invested money into a retirement fund. He also paid off bills, vehicles and a big chunk of the mortgage. His advice to the younger guys, “Have your finances in order when moving into the Big Leagues.”
Jason’s current sponsors are Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Humminbird, MinnKota, Chevy, Rapala, Berkley, Pflueger, Fenwick, Cannon, Off-Shore Tackle, Costa, and Rod Slick. Contacts: [email protected]; jpfishing.net; 715-498-3752.