The epic rise of Seth Feider

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All photos James Overstreet

Seth Feider stated out as your basic bass bum.

Today, he is the reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year champion.

What happened in between is a remarkable story about how a reserved, blue-collar young man transitioned into one of the most formidable and popular anglers on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour.

It didn’t come easily. In fact, it was so difficult at times, he almost quit.

There was never a silver spoon in Feider’s mouth, and like many wannabe pros, he had to pinch pennies to finance his path to stardom. In fact, a 2015 fundraising party at David Fong’s Chinese Restaurant and Sports Bar in Bloomington, Minn., helped kick-start his rookie Elite season.

“People donated kegs and some stuff was raffled off to help cover half my expenses,” Feider says. “The rest I racked up on credit cards.”

And, as a youngster who dreamed of becoming a pro angler, he admits to not being a good student, either.

“All I ever thought about was fishing, so I skipped a lot of school,” recalls the Minnesota angler. “If it was April or May, there’s a good chance I was on the water and not in school. I had to take night school to get the classes to graduate high school.

“It’s not something I’m proud of, but hey, it worked out.”

It sure did. He fished as a junior co-angler in the Minnesota Pro-Am during high school, and then started fishing team tournaments around the state. In his 20s, he fished the pro division of two different Minnesota Pro-Am circuits, won Angler of the Year in both and won the championship and a boat at the end of the season.

He sold the boat and used the money to fish the FLW Eastern Series — where he bombed.

“I kind of gave up and went back to fishing team tournaments, but a buddy talked me into giving a pro career another shot,” says Feider. “I signed up for the Central Division of the Bassmaster Opens [in 2012] and finished 10th in points, and it was a huge confidence boost.”

He spent the next two years fishing the Northern Opens, where he qualified for the Elites.

Again, his confidence was tested. He blanked his first day on the Sabine River as an Elite angler and finished 73rd.

“I was so intimidated about lining up against guys like Greg Hackney and Jason Christie, my idols,” he says. “Honest to God, I felt like I was way in over my head and cried on the way home.”

He won $30,500 that year, less than he paid in entry fees, and the self-doubts piled into the next season.

“I sucked because I was more worried about cashing checks than winning trophies,” he said. “That doesn’t work on the Elites.”

After a horrible start in 2016, he hit rock bottom at the Potomac River near the end of the season. He pondered quitting again.

“I figured I was going to get kicked out of the Elites [because of low ranking], but we had one more event on the Mississippi River at La Crosse. I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to go back to fishing the way I fished my home lakes and not worry about how everyone said you had to fish that river.’”

It worked. He finished second at La Crosse, squeaked into a berth in the Angler of the Year season finale on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs and won that event.