Minnesotan Seth Feider is on a mission to qualify for the Elite Series through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. The 28-year-old angler began his quest in 2012 by fishing the Central Opens. He finished the season 10th in the point standings.
In 2013, Feider opted to fish the Northern Opens. He was in seventh place going into the final event at Lake Erie. The brass ring of the Elite Series was well within reach. However, a 65th place finish dropped him to 10th place in the points.
Although he has fallen short the past two seasons, Feider is encouraged that he has been able to catch bass in Texas reservoirs, an eastern tidal river and the Great Lakes. These bass environments are a far cry from Minnesota’s natural lakes and rivers where he learned his bass fishing basics.
Feider has been fishing since he was a tad, but didn’t get into bass fishing seriously until 2006. That year, Feider’s father, Pete, introduced him to Billy Hilderbrandt who ran a popular pro-am bass tournament circuit in the North Star State.
Hilderbrandt talked Feider into fishing his tournaments as an amateur. Feider demonstrated considerable bass fishing talent by winning the amateur Angler of the Year title.
“I really got into it,” Feider says of the tournaments. “I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.”
After that experience, Feider began fishing buddy tournaments and pro-am events on the pro side of the equation. He earned checks on a regular basis.
Most of these events happened at the Mississippi River and Minnesota’s large natural lakes, such as Minnetonka, Leech and Vermillion. Smallmouth bass were usually on the agenda, as well as largemouth bass that grew fat in aquatic grasses, including milfoil, coontail and cabbage.
Drop shot fishing became one of Feider’s most productive smallmouth ploys. His favorite technique for largemouths is pitching heavy jigs and Texas-rigged baits into the thick grass beds that grow in Minnesota lakes.
In 2012, Feider made the leap into big-time tournament fishing by signing up for the Bassmaster Central Opens as a pro. Why did Feider elect to fish the Central Opens when the Northern Opens would have been more in line with his Minnesota fishing methods?
“All the lakes I had ever fished were natural,” Feider says. “I wanted to fish reservoirs so I could learn how to fish them in case I qualified for the Elite Series.”
After finishing 10th in the point standings that year, it was evident that Feider had learned well. Finesse fishing with a shaky head worm and 8-pound line did especially well for him.
“We fish what we call a jig worm on weed edges a lot in Minnesota,” Feider says. “It’s similar to a shaky head, except that the hook is exposed. We rip it through the grass to trigger reflex bites.”
It was a small adjustment for Feider to switch to a weedless shaky head to avoid snagging the rocky and brushy cover he found while fishing reservoirs. The little shaky head carried him to a third place finish at Ft. Gibson Lake that year.
In 2013, Feider signed up for the Northern Opens, which would give him a better opportunity to fish his strengths and qualify for the Elite Series. Had he turned in a better finish at Lake Erie, Feider would have been competing against the world’s best bass anglers in the 2014 Elites.
“I plan to fish the Southern and Northern Opens in 2014,” Feider says. “It’s hard to qualify for the Elite Series with a three-tournament format. If you have one bad day, you’re pretty much out of it.”
Feider has picked up a host of sponsors, with Rapala and Daiwa being his biggest contributors. His parents also support his dream financially and emotionally.
“My parents support me a ton,” Feider says. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
When he’s not competing in bass tournaments, Feider works part time in construction, with a moving company and with a plumber.
“My dream is to make the Elites,” Feider says. “I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and regret that I didn’t give it my best.”