Opens profile: Wetherell’s hot start

Connecticut pro Alex Wetherell started his Bassmaster Opens series hot for 2021.

With a second-place finish at the 2021 Bassmaster Southern Open on Florida’s Harris Chain, Connecticut’s Alex Wetherell had a great start in his journey toward the Elite Series. Given that he has earned a check in 10 of 21 Bassmaster Opens, Wetherell’s consistency bodes well for his success. He is fishing the both the Southern and Northern Opens in 2021.

Although Wetherell’s parents enjoyed fishing, they were not bass anglers. His father, Steve, grew up on Cape Cod and mainly fished saltwater. His mother, Karen, is from Syracuse, N.Y. She and her family fished Lake Ontario for walleye and perch.

During annual family vacations to New York, Wetherell fished a boat canal connected to Lake Ontario. He started at age 4 by catching bluegill with a worm and bobber.

His infatuation with bass began the day a largemouth engulfed his worm. Thereafter, he caught many bass from the canal with live bait, small spinners and a “mishmash” of other lures he received as Christmas presents.

“I’ve wanted to compete in bass tournaments for a living since I was 8 years old,” Wetherell said. “I grew up reading Bassmaster Magazine. We didn’t have anything like YouTube back then.”

When he was a junior at Connecticut’s Middletown High School, Wetherell’s bass dreams took a giant leap forward. He befriended his gym teacher, Dave Sytulek, who was president of the B.A.S.S. affiliated Midconn Anglers.

“He talked to me about things like green pumpkin lures and tungsten weights,” Wetherell said. “It was a whole new language to me.”

The relationship prompted Wetherell to join the Midconn Anglers as a non-boater and fish their tournaments for a year as a co-angler. The following year he met professional bass angler Terry Baksay, who was involved with Connecticut’s Jr. Bassmaster program.

“He took me under his wing and was a mentor for a period of time,” Wetherell said.

That year he joined the Jr. Bassmasters and competed in the organization’s tournaments. He found immediate success by winning Connecticut’s state tournament. He followed that up by winning the Eastern Divisional on Connecticut’s Candlewood Lake. That earned him a birth to the National Championship held at Cross Lake, Louisiana, in 2010.

“The championship was in October,” Wetherell said. “The conditions couldn’t have been worse. The temperature dropped 40 degrees and there were 30 mph winds.”

Wetherell retreated to the back of a clear creek where he was shielded from the brunt of the wind. There, he boated six bass that engulfed a 5-inch stickbait. He had to release a pair of 2 1/2-pound largemouth because they fell within the lake’s 15- to 17-inch slot limit. The four bass he brought to the scale carried him to victory by a slim 2-ounce margin.

During his senior year in high school, Wetherell began a seven-year stint working in the fishing department at Cabela’s. After graduation he matriculated to Central Connecticut State University where he earned a degree in marketing.

Soon after college, Wetherell put a down payment on a 21-foot Stratos, which he used to compete in B.A.S.S. Nation tournaments held in Connecticut. He qualified for the state team twice and won the Eastern Divisional in 2015 on the Connecticut River. The next year he seriously began his quest for the Elite Series by competing in the Bassmaster Opens.

Wetherell’s marketing degree, work experience at Cabela’s and fishing expertise landed him a job at Lunker City Fishing. He has been the sales and marketing manager there for the past three years.

“If I do qualify for the Elite Series, I would like to continue working with Lunker City, possibly part time,” Wetherell said. “Figuring out how to make it work would be a good problem to have.”

His sponsors include Lunker City Fishing, Thayer’s Marine, Shimano, G. Loomis, Humminbird, Gator Guards, Caymas Boats and Ionic Lithium Batteries.