As you well know !
From a state historically thin on professional championship material comes a Minnesotan with a signature mullet, walrus-like mustache and cool manner that even Twins slugger Nelson Cruz would envy.Seth Feider, 36, is best known as the young angler who outfished the nation’s best on his home waters in 2016, winning a year-end Bassmaster tournament on Lake Mille Lacs and a nice check. Now, Feider is a few casts away Friday from claiming the elusive title of Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY), fishing against the elites of the professional fishing circuit.The prize doesn’t get any bigger in the colorful, big-money world of pro bass fishing, and it has many Minnesotans buzzing, whether they’ve fished with Feider or against him, or just are having fun following his star.Feider, of Elko New Market, opened the final tour stop on the St. Lawrence River in New York on Thursday with one of the biggest hauls of the 94 anglers. His five-fish bag of smallmouths weighed 22 pounds, the biggest fish 5 pounds, 3 ounces.He reacted with a fist pump in the bright lights of the live weigh-in.Feider conceded that his success Thursday “took a bunch of stress off me.” He said he has battled nerves in the practice days leading up to his decisive week. Losing his first four fish Thursday morning didn’t help.“Now I finally feel comfortable,” he said. “I don’t have to do a whole lot [Friday].”Feider’s year-end lead in points appears insurmountable. He needs only to finish 54th or better on the St. Lawrence to claim the title. He’ll know whether he won it all after he fishes Friday. Only the top 45 anglers advance to fish Saturday.While he is all but certain to clinch AOY, he’ll likely point to last weekend on the big water ofLake Champlain, also in New York, as pivotal. It’s there that he finished fourth overall, and on that tourney’s final day weighed the second-biggest bag of the day (five fish totaling 19 pounds, 5 ounces).Champlain is sometimes called the “6th Great Lake” and is 120 miles long. Feider targeted a northern part called the Inland Sea. “It is probably my favorite lake that we go to on the tour,” he said last week.”It just reminds me the most of home, you know? It’s half-Minnetonka, half-Mille Lacs mixed in one.”Quite a tour runFrom the Elite Tour’s opener this year, Feider said his run toward the championship has felt fated. He took third at the first tournament Feb. 11 at St. Johns River in Florida, a place that has historically been tough for Feider, and followed in April with a sixth-place finish at Lake Fork in Texas.At Champlain, he had to abandon his plan in the first days to target smallmouth and landed a huge largemouth in the shallows to fill out his bag. Sometimes, he said, there have been boats where heintended to go, and a new, unexpected spot has produced fish. During an April tournament on the Sabine River in southeast Texas, Feider was the last boat out one day. He decided to fish around the ramp and pulled together a big bag. He finished sixth overall.“I can’t really explain it. I can’t really duplicate it,” Feider said last week. “It’s just, I don’t know, what’s meant to be is meant to be, I guess.”Even one of Minnesota’s greatest anglers, Al Lindner, is impressed with Feider’s rise. But he isn’t surprised.Lindner, who jumpstarted his long and successful walleye fishing career on the bass circuit in the early ’70s, has watched Feider fishing lakes like Minnetonka and others in the Twin Cities since he was “just a puppy in the game.”Now Feider’s moment has arrived.“He was born for this, man,” Lindner said. “He was born for this.”Since Feider’s big victory in 2016, he has improved in the AOY standings nearly every year. He finished 14th overall in 2017; 18th in 2018; and fifth in 2019. Last year he was 12th.Like Lindner, Tom Mackin and Dan Quinn are among the people who can vouch that Feider’s rise didn’t happen without hard work and an almost obsessive attention to details of the sport and what it takes to consistently land big fish.Mackin is president of Rapala USA, Feider’s biggest sponsor, and the legendary lure’s namesake is wrapped loudly around the angler’s attire and his Bass Cat boat.Mackin and Quinn, Rapala’s field promotions director, recalled Feider’s younger days when he would beat a busy path in state tournaments and stop at the Rapala offices in Minnetonka to help develop products after field-testing gear. He has influenced the design of Rapala’s famed lines of hooks and jigs, and his loyalty to the brand still resonates.“He was just fun to be around and had great ideas,” Mackin said.The relationship began more than 10 years ago, first with some discounts on Rapala gear before transitioning into bigger deals as Feider found more success, Quinn said. Without getting into numbers, Quinn acknowledged that Feider’s likely AOY championship will command a bigger payday from Rapala and other sponsors.“He is legitimate,” Quinn said. “The credibility is there. No one can question it. [A championship] definitely puts him on a different level.”For his part, Feider knows his run to the AOY championship won’t be easy to repeat. He has had four top-10 finishes in eight tournaments this year, a rare feat for any pro angler. The money helps, too. His winnings thus far this season amount to more than $100,000.“It makes it a lot easier to go fishing when you’re not thinking about other stuff,” Feider said.Another Minnesotan, Trevor Lo, can relate to Feider on some level. Lo won the Bassmaster College Series in 2015 — before he received his marketing degree at the University of Minnesota. He said Feider’s success brings him great pride in a sport more closely associated with trophy hauls by anglers from the southern United States. The path for other Minnesotans is bright, too. Austin Felix of Eden Prairie is rising. He’s 17th overall in the AOY standings, and was the rookie of the year on the elite tour in 2020.“It is really exciting to see Seth do so well,” said Lo, who still competes in Bassmaster Opens. “It kind of puts us Minnesota boys on the map.”Lindner, who knows the fishing scene like few others, thinks one Minnesota angler is just realizing his potential.“Seth is no flash in the pan. Now he is starting to perform at a top-notch level,” Lindner said. “He is here to stay.”
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As you well know !