Feider with his trophy

Seth Feider backstage right after he tamed Mille Lacs, posing with his new trophy, alongside the man who created it, Steve Tretter. "I'm glad we get to keep it in Minnesota," said Feider.

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The Amazing Feiderman

Backstage after topping the Elite field on Mille Lacs, Seth Feider got a hug from his girlfriend Dayton Reinke. Note her shirt, made after Feider came in second at La Crosse and Dave Mercer dubbed him the Amazing Feiderman.

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Feider close to his prediction

Last Sunday, after he finished second on the Mississippi River at La Crosse, Seth Feider predicted 78 pounds would win at Mille Lacs Lake, his self-described "home away from home." At Wednesday's anglers' briefing, he didn't flinch on that 78-pound prediction.

Feider is close to making his forecast a reality. BASSTrakk shows him with 76-7, and an 8-12 lead over second-place Brent Ehrler.

Ehrler smashes a Classic berth

Brent Ehrler just punched his ticket to the Bassmaster Classic - in style. Ehrler, He came into this event in 41st place in the AOY standings. He entered the day in third place, but he needed to close it out with a solid Day 3.

"If I catch this fish I'm going to the Classic," Ehrler said after he hooked a big smallmouth. For the next couple of minutes, all Ehrler could say was, "Please, please, please, please," as he fought the fish to the boat.

Then he landed a smallmouth bass that was shaped like a drum. It weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces, and for now appears to be the big bass of the tournament. Ehrler's back in third place with 65-11 today, according to BASSTrakk.

A great day for Ehrler.

Swindle's day off, pay off

Gerald Swindle is in his element. Earlier in the week he reluctantly started with a drop shot rig. He seemed to be stuck on using that lure, which isn't in his wheelhouse of preferred baits. That seemed odd, the reason being he was just totally off. 

He just explained the reason why on LIVE. 

"Coming into this tournament is the most tired I've ever been in 20 years of doing this," he said. "I was waking up dead tired, going to bed the same way."

Part of the reason is the back-to-back events, with so much on the line for the AOY title. Swindle reasoned that he needed a Top 12 finish at the Mississippi River, last week, to give him a shot at the title.

Unknowlingly at the time, he was right. 

"I fished my guts out there and left my heart on the Mississippi River."

And then yesterday, a day off. 

"I got to clear my head, get some rest, get my mind back in the game." 

The man with the Postive Mental Attitude is back in the game and doing what he does best with a jerkbait and chatterbait. Not a drop shot rig in sight, either. 

Kennedy amazed by Mille Lacs

Steve Kennedy expressed just how much fun he’s been having on Mille Lacs Lake when he said on the weigh-in stage Friday, “I missed my 20th wedding anniversary and my son’s sixth birthday. And it was worth it!”

The man with the engineering degree from Auburn University can always get more analytical than that. He had some interesting observations about Mille Lacs’ 129,617 acres, which have a maximum depth of 41 feet.

“Every inch of this water is fishable,” Kennedy said. “Obviously you want to find concentration points, but basically it’s 130,000 acres of fishable water. It’s similar to (California’s) Clear Lake, which has huge areas of 20- to 30-foot depths, but this lake has got the most productive depths.

“Here the fish can be anywhere. It’s a glacial lake, so there are just random rocks. That’s what I found (Friday). We always talk about magic trees. I found a magic rock.”

Kennedy weighed 20-13 Friday, giving him a 23rd-place two-day total of 39-14. He’s got 17-8 already today and is in sixth place on BASSTrakk.

Tough all around

The day is tougher on the whole field today.

There are some who are catching them. Some who aren't. That feast or famine deal is pretty standard for most bass tournaments. It's also the standard thing that provides big moves up and down in the points standings.

While Mille Lacs has shown out as the premier smallmouth fishery on the planet the last few days, it's showing a mean side today. And that could  translate into some sharp rises and falls in the points standings.

Going into today it looked as if you had a 6 or 7 pound deficit to make up you might be twiddling your thumbs. Everyone was catching them too good to really make a difference. With a downturn in the bites, making up deficits are all of the sudden a real possibility.

Take a look at Keith Combs. He's already in 12th place. That's up from 34th where he started the day. He just needs to move 6 more places and everything stay the same and he's the AOY Champion.

We are talking about this at 9:30 in the morning because that's the trend with a third of the day over. By midday that might become a silly point of conversation.

This lake has proven it can produce like none other. It might just need a little waking up.

The conditions of sunny and windy are perfect to catch a big bag of smallmouth. So you have to think it will eventually happen but the clock is ticking.

Swindle's switch paying off

Previously, I wrote that Gerald Swindle will fish "his way" on the final day of the season. He's doing that and applying a cool confidence factor to his lures.

Taking time, during the heat of battle, to modify lures is a key sign that Swindle has carefully thought out his approach. 

He replaced the stock treble hooks on a Lucky Craft Pointer and applied black marks down the sides of the jerkbait. He made the latter move to match the baitfish in his area. 

"When using a two-hook jerkbait for smallmouth I always switch out the hooks," he said. 

That's not a knock on the brand by any means. Smallmouth are notorious for their acrobatic leaps and subsurface runs that do damage to the hook setting ratio. Simply put, they can throw a lure in a hurry. 

Swindle spent a few minutes adding Gamakatsu EWG 2X Treble Hooks to the bait. 

Alternatively, he's using a chatterbait, but the jerkbait has landed smallmouth and largemouth.

Swindle's focus is drifting across a flat with a depression holding deeper water than the surrounding area. He believes the bass are concentrating in the deep water. 

Meet Jon Kuester

The boat driver for myself and Steve Bowman this week has been 33-year-old Jon Kuester of Stanley, Wisconsin. That's a three and a half hour drive away from Mille Lacs in Minnesota. He's piloting a big borrowed Nitro walleye boat for us that's more than 21 feet long. He's a big man himself at 6 foot 5 inches tall.

Kuester is a dairy farmer with 60 milk cows and 100 cattle total. And that means long work weeks. "Cows gotta be milked seven days a week, twice a day," he told us. His average work day is 14 hours long. "That is unless I'm out fishing or snowmobiling." On those days he gets some hired help.

Kuester is a tournament angler himself with 15 to 20 trips to Mille Lacs under his belt. He fishes in the Upper Midwest Bass Challenge Series, the Minnesota Lakes Division. His home lake is Otter, near Stanley. Kuester is on the Nitro pro staff.

What has he learned this week watching the Elites? And by the way, this is the first Elite event he's attended. "There's more ways to fish this lake than I thought," he said. "We typically use football jigs and some drop shot. I never used a jerkbait here. I figured the water was too stained for that. But that's how we saw KVD catching em."

I asked him on a scale of 1 to 10 how much of a butt Bowman has been this week. He struggled with that, and then said, "I'd have to say a zero." Well Jon, that means you've done a great job for us. Thank you!

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