Opens profile: Norsetter’s long shot pays off

At age 36, Wisconsin’s Kyle Norsetter decided it was time to take a shot at becoming a professional bass angler, his lifelong dream. He signed up to fish the Bassmaster Central Opens and the Toyota Series for the 2022 season. Prior to this, his tournament experience consisted of fishing local derbies in his home state.

He missed the mark with the Toyota events but was dead on target in the Bassmaster Opens. He qualified for the 2023 Elite Series by nabbing second in the Central Opens Angler of the Year standings.

Going into the final Open at Sam Rayburn, Norsetter didn’t realize how close he was to finishing in the top three in the point standings and earning a berth to the Elites. He had already planned to fish all nine Opens in 2023. After finishing third at Rayburn, he was genuinely surprised that he had earned enough points to make it to the Elites.

“It’s a dream come true,” Norsetter said. “I’m literally going to be strapped up with all of the Elite pros I’ve been watching on TV.”

As a youngster growing up in Madison, Wis., he would cast for bass while walking the shoreline of Lake Monona with his father and brothers. He began fishing more intensely at around age 12 when his parents allowed their boys to go by themselves. He was more passionate about fishing than his siblings and would sometimes go alone.

“We couldn’t afford a boat when I was a kid,” Norsetter said. “On weekends I’d walk three to four miles while fishing Lake Monona with buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and lots of PowerBaits.”

Norsetter rarely had an opportunity to cast from a boat until he bought a Stratos fish and ski model after graduating from Madison West High School. Over the next six years he fervently competed in local tournaments and frequently cashed checks. During this time he also started his business K&M Exteriors. The company specializes in decks, but also does siding, windows and roofing.

“Then my fishing died down for four or five years,” Norsetter said. “Alcohol played a roll, not good. It backed me off of fishing. I got a DUI. It was devastating for my business.”

Norsetter overcame his setback six years ago and resumed tournament fishing with more enthusiasm than ever. He entered every local event possible and finished in the top 10 more often than not in fields typically consisting of 50 to 60 boats.

His tournament success is one reason he decided to take a shot at becoming a professional bass angler. Another reason is that he has turned his life around and is in a good position financially. Add to this that his fiancée, Amber Denzer, is on board. She is also his business partner.

“I have busted my rear and saved enough money to do this,” Norsetter said. “I have no debt. My house and everything else is paid off.”

His goals for the Elite Series are to “hold up a blue trophy and make the Bassmaster Classic.”

His sponsors include Apex Auto, Badger City Auto, Dunner’s Landscape and Concrete, Summers Landscape Supply, Performance Electric, K9 Crush, Atomic Fishing Jerseys and K&N Exteriors.