PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — When less than two pounds separates the top 13 anglers going into the final day of a tournament, picking a favorite to win has long odds. But Seth Feider has dialed in a two-species plan that could lead him to victory today in the finale of the Bassmaster Elite at Champlain presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels.
The 32-year-old Minnesota pro has honed a drop-shot pattern for deep smallmouth bass and a jig pattern in 8- to 10-foot vegetation for largemouth bass. The latter is anchored by a sweet spot. It was yesterday when he realized the potential in the sweet spot. That’s when he weighed 19-15, which included the big bass of the day, a 5 ½-pound largemouth, which vaulted him from 32nd to 2nd in the standings.
“We don’t get to do it a lot on tour, but on the lakes back home we have a lot of that deep milfoil,” Feider said. “It’s one of my favorite ways to fish, so I wanted to mix that in too, as long as the conditions were right for it, and they’ve been right for it.”
Those conditions include, most importantly, no wind.
“The wind just kills that bite,” Feider said. “But then the smallmouths will probably bite better if it blows really hard.”
Feider found the sweet spot for largemouth bass in practice.
“I didn’t realize that largemouth spot was that good,” Feider said. “I went in there in practice and caught a decent one, threw back in there and shook one off. Then I went in there real quick (Friday), caught four over three pounds and ended up weighing in three of them.
“Today I spent a bunch of time there. There’s an incredible amount of fish. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something in the grass that I get hung up on. I don’t know if it’s metal or wood, but there’s like a really little sweet spot. I caught 30 fish off it the first day. I probably caught 40 off it (Saturday). It’s a clump of milfoil that’s probably the size of that trailer right there.”
Feider pointed to one of the smaller B.A.S.S. trailers at the weigh-in site, one that’s about 20 feet long.
“I didn’t think much of it after practice,” Feider said. “After what I saw today, there’s definitely something special going on there. And there’s definitely some quality. I lost a couple of quality fish.”
Feider may have an advantage in that he has two distinct game plans that allow for wind or no wind. It’s not clear that any other angler near the top of the leaderboard has such a two-pronged approach for both smallmouths and largemouths. Saturday was the key for him. He weighed-in two smallmouths and three largemouths on Day 1; he weighed four largemouths and one smallmouth on Day 2.
“I made a little adjustment (Saturday), went largemouth fishing and ended up catching a couple of really nice ones,” Feider said “I’m going to check on smallmouths again (Sunday). If they go, you can catch 17, 18 pounds pretty quick. If they don’t, I might just live or die with those largemouths.
“They’re definitely bigger. There’s just not as many 3 ½- o 4-pounders as there is smallmouths. But when you’re largemouth fishing, you might catch a 5- or 6-pounder, and those go a long way here.”