Thirty-one-year-old Seth Feider admits he has cried four times as an adult. The first time was when his dog died. The other three times it was after Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments in 2015, his rookie year.
Unlike one major sport, where “there’s no crying in baseball,” apparently there is crying in bass fishing. But Feider’s crying time is over, especially in light of his performance on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., last week.
In finishing second to Ott Defoe, Feider climbed a mountain. He was in 69th place in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points entering the event, and he managed to hit the magic number – 50th place – with his performance in the last regular season tournament of the year.
By finishing there, Feider punched his ticket to the AOY Championship, which begins Thursday on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake, Feider’s “favorite lake in the world” right now.
When asked Sunday if he had now established himself on the Elite Series, Feider said, “Maybe. I don’t know. I might be able to seal that deal up in Mille Lacs.”
If Feider would be able to move up to the 39th spot in the AOY points standings this week, he would qualify for his first GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
“It’s going to be fun. You just wait,” said Feider, who predicted it would take 78 pounds over three days to win at Mille Lacs – an average of 26 pounds a day, of mostly smallmouth bass.
“Big bass will be at least 6 1/2 pounds, probably 6 3/4,” Feider said. “Sevens are rare, but they’re in there.”
Feider, who lives in nearby Bloomington, Minn., fished Mille Lacs a dozen times last fall, after the 2017 Elite Series season was announced. He said his best five broke 30 pounds on two of those trips and his “worst day” was 26 pounds.
“It’s peaking right now,” Feider said. “You can catch them any way you want to catch them – from 2 feet to 25 feet. There’s not a bad section of the lake.”
It was smallmouth bass that keyed Feider’s performance on the Mississippi River. Only on Day 1 did he give up on the smallmouth bite and lock back down to Pool 8 to fish for largemouth. He finished with a 13-pound, 1-ounce bag that left him in 39th place. On Day 2 Feider exhibited his smallmouth expertise by weighing the big bag of the tournament – 19-5 – and rocketing up to third place. He didn’t weigh another largemouth bass after the first day.
“Most guys fish for largemouths, but the guys that catch 17 or 18 pounds of smallies are going to win,” Feider said. “It’s a gamble, though. There are way more 15-pound bags of largemouths than there are 16-pound bags of smallies, and you could come back with 8 pounds. But I was in a position to gamble. I had nothing to lose.”
It’s that attitude of taking them one tournament at a time, and trying to win each one, rather than thinking about accumulating points with a good finish each time, that Feider hopes to take into every Elite Series event from now on. By being in a position where he had to gamble, he saw what can happen when you do.
You know how badly a guy wants it when he doesn’t mind admitting that he cried after three Elite Series tournaments his rookie year. They were, incidentally, after a 73rd place finish at the Sabine River – his first ever Elite event, a 94th place finish at Lake Guntersville in his second tournament, then a 52nd place finish in the last event of 2015 at Lake St. Clair, where he hoped to do well on more familiar waters after working himself up near the 50 cut for the AOY Championship event. He finished 58th in the final AOY standings last year.
Feider had a big following of “Twin Cities” friends and fans at La Crosse. They’ll probably be on hand again this week to cheer for him. Feider said he never felt nervous while in contention for three days at La Crosse because of that cheering section following him on the water.
Feider’s fan club has undoubtedly grown since then. It’s hard not to root for a young angler who wants success as much as he does.