What the Classic means: Seth Feider

Seth Feider dreams of winning the Bassmaster Classic.

Okay, not to diminish, but doesn’t every bass angler, especially those qualified for the grand event, harbor such desire? Well, yes, but Feider has specific dreams — like, really specific dreams of capturing the sport’s pinnacle achievement.

“I have dreams that I put my fish on the scale, and I have enough to win,” he explained. “Everyone else stands up there and talks into the microphone, but in my dream, the second I see the scale, I take off running across the stage, jump across the road, run up into the stands and give my mom and dad and my best friends hugs.

“We blow off (tournament director) Trip (Weldon) and (emcee Dave) Mercer and just party up there in the stands.”

Pretty cool, right? But don’t dismiss this as a random occurrence. Feider’s Classic dream has replayed with remarkable consistency.

“Every night I dream about this,” he said. “The Classic is all-consuming; I don’t think about any other tournament. I’ve been thinking about this every single day since I qualified at the Elite event on Lake Chatuge in September.”

Why it matters

Suffice it to say, fixation matches fascination for what was once an aspiring young angler growing up just outside of Minneapolis. Ever since discovering his first episode of The Bassmasters as an 8-year-old kid, Feider couldn’t get enough of the sport. And though he didn’t attend a Classic until 2015, the year he qualified for the Elites, he watched each televised event with a passion that has now taken practical form.

“My goal when I start every year is to qualify for the Classic,” he said. “It’s a very small field, and I think qualifying for it alone is an accomplishment. One of those 50 guys is going to have their life changed.

“Obviously, there’s a financial side to it, but it’s more about cementing your place in bass fishing history. Regular-season events are cool and the AOY is cool, but as a kid growing up, there’s nothing I wanted more than to win a Classic. That’s a 20-something-year dream trying to come true.”

Etched in Feider’s memories, as vividly as the big Classic catches, were intensely motivating moments where dramatic conclusions saw two competitors wearing diametrically opposite expressions. He expects nothing less when the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods visits Knoxville, Tenn., this March.

“It’s a winner-take-all tournament. There will be one really happy guy leaving that tournament and one really depressed guy leaving that tournament in second place and everybody else will be unsatisfied without winning,” Feider said.

Clearly, he’s aiming for first place, but his motivation bears a convincingly authentic tone.

“I want to win the Classic for all the guys I tournament fished with growing up, all the people that have supported me: my parents, my best friends,” he said.

Line in the sand

Those who know him understand that Seth Feider’s an easy-going guy with a natural chill that serves him well in tournament competition.

“That’s my biggest strength in fishing; I don’t spin out and worry about what I can’t control,” he said. “I may not be the best fisherman in the world, but I’m not going to melt down when stuff doesn’t go right.”

That being said, Feider does not sugarcoat his thoughts, and he doesn’t hesitate to calmly and clearly speak his mind. Ask him about this year’s field, which includes several former Elite competitors now participating in another tour, and he’ll tell you he’s hoping for a particular outcome.

“I just hope one of us (B.A.S.S. competitors) wins the Classic and keeps the trophy where it belongs, and don’t let the visiting team come in there and win one,” Feider said. “The deck is kind of stacked in their favor because about two-thirds of the guys fishing the Classic aren’t fishing B.A.S.S. anymore. But I think it would be the greatest thing ever if one of the B.A.S.S. guys could win.”

Classic impressions

Feider made his Classic debut last year on Lake Hartwell where he placed 18th. Better than last place, but he gained valuable experience in how to fish a Bassmaster Classic. In addition to that fence-swinging mentality, he recognized the need to maintain focus in a dynamic environment.

“There’s definitely a lot more hoopla around it; you have days off, days on, days off,” he said. “If you’re a guy who’s easily distracted, there’s a lot going on that can get in your head a little bit. It’s nothing that’s going to bother me.”

Maintaining this mental discipline, he said, helps keep him focused on his game plan.

“I thought the smallmouth might play some because I know there are some nice ones in (the Classic waters), but 1) they have to be 18 inches to keep and 2) I think we’re going to face high, muddy conditions, so I don’t think the smallmouth will play that well,” Feider said. “To be honest, I’d rather keep a jig in my hand and get to work catching five big ones.

After all, the Classic’s not about standings; you either win or you don’t. This, Feider said, encourages more aggressive game plans than regular season events with long-term implications.

“The Classic is a free event; everybody’s getting paid to be there, there’s no points and you can definitely gamble on fishing for five big ones,” he said. “I think in a regular season event, you might start out that way and then halfway through the day you realize that’s not going to happen, and you go back to scramble mode just to catch a limit and save face for the day.

“In the Classic, there isn’t any of that; you’re just going to stay on what you think can catch the five biggest fish. If it works out, it works out; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Nothing to be lost. A Classic is never going to be won by a guy playing it safe.”

This year, Feider’s motivation may be even higher, as his wife Dayton will bring their 1-year-old daughter Rose to the weigh-ins. She may be too young to understand what a Bassmaster Classic’s all about, but the youngest Feider will be sporting a mini version of her dad’s jersey.

Who knows, maybe Rose will get to see her dad run into the stands to celebrate with his family — while Trip and Mercer wait patiently.

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