“It’s crazy. I don’t know how to describe it – from zero dollars and dream over on the Elite Series to the point where I can do this for the rest of my life.”
- Seth Feider, on his turnaround from 2016 to 2017
Two tournaments don’t make a Bassmaster Elite Series career. But you might have a hard time convincing 32-year-old Seth Feider of that.
As you might recall, Feider’s Elite Series career was on life support just over a year ago. He was coming off an 85th-place finish on the Potomac River, which had dropped him to 69th place in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings.
“Basically, after the Potomac I was at rock bottom,” Feider recalled. “I was out of money.”
But “The Amazing Feider Man” earned his nickname with a second-place finish on the Mississippi River at La Crosse, Wis., which bumped him up to the 50th and final qualifying spot in the AOY Championship at Lake Mille Lacs, where he won by 6 ½ pounds.
The people who’d observed Feider dominate tournaments near his hometown of Bloomington, Minn., weren’t surprised. They’d been wondering why it took so long. Feider hadn’t put up many highlights in his 2015 rookie season either, when he finished 59th in the final AOY standings.
“The first year-and-three-quarters I was fishing for 50th place on the Elite Series,” said Feider last year at Mille Lacs. “You can’t do that against these guys. It’s not going to end well. You fish for 50th and you’re going to end up 80th.
“I’m going to fish every tournament next year like I’ve got nothing to lose.”
And he’s done exactly that, as indicated by his 15th-place spot in the AOY standings going into the Top 50 event at Mille Lacs this week. Since being “out of money” after his 85th-place finish at the Potomac River last August, Feider has won $124,500 on the Elite Series.
Feider has had only two bad tournaments this season, finishing 87th at Lake Okeechobee and 94th at Lake Dardanelle. He has offset those with six finishes of 34th or better, including 4th at Lake Cherokee to start the season and 2nd at Lake Champlain in the next-to-last regular season event.
“It’s ten-fold better,” said Feider in describing the difference from last season to this one. Then he thought again and said, “No, it’s a hundred-fold better, a thousand-fold better. It’s crazy. I don’t know how to describe it – from zero dollars and dream over on the Elite Series to the point where I can do this for the rest of my life.”
Every year there are numerous examples of what a mental game this is – the sport of professional bass fishing. You see anglers ride a wave of momentum to consistent success, and you see the opposite, as well – accomplished anglers who sink into a season-long funk.
But it’s not nearly so common to see someone do what Feider has done over the last two years – take some late (really, really late) success from one season and carry it over into the next year. Not to be disrespectful, but Feider was “nobody” on the Elite Series until the final two tournaments of his second season on the tour. He’s been “somebody” ever since.
Al Lindner, a Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame member and one of the legends of the sport, was an interested observer at Mille Lacs last year. Like Feider, he’s a Minnesota resident. Lindner predicted then that Feider’s career was on the rise, saying, “All the sudden, he has that set of credentials that he needs to take him to the next level. You need that break. Every one of these touring pros – at some point in their career –were where Seth was three weeks ago. You’re considering hanging it up. Then all the sudden you get that break.
“Seth has gotten the break that will launch his career. That’s the beautiful part of this sport.”
After Lindner told me that, I went looking for other examples, asking various Elite Series pros if there had been a similar time in their careers when they’d “gotten the break” that launched their careers. I’m not saying there aren’t others, but I didn’t find one that day. If you need more evidence that Feider is one of a kind, there’s that. Lindner’s main point, however, couldn’t have been more accurate – Feider’s career had been launched.
A year ago, Feider had an infinitesimal shot of breaking into the Bassmaster Classic qualifiers list from 50th place entering the AOY Championship. He did everything he could, obviously, by winning the tournament. But he wasn’t in control of his fate. It’s a totally different story this year.
“I’ll pretty much be able to catch one bass in three days, and I’ll be in the Classic,” said Feider, adding with a smile, “I think I can do that. I may not win, but I think I can catch one.”
Yeah, the guy who sacked 76 pounds, 5 ounces of smallmouth bass over three days at Lake Mille Lacs a year ago will probably be able to catch one keeper from what he’s called “my favorite lake in the world.”
Ask every one of the Elite Series pros about his No. 1 goal at the start of the season and the answer will be the same – qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.
“You can’t win it, if you’re not in it,” Feider said. “And if you win, it changes your life.”
Feider has changed his life dramatically over the past year. Now he’s got some other changes on his mind.