There were plenty of finned fighters underwater all week at Lake Mille Lacs, but they were no match for the Feider on the surface.
That would be Seth Feider. The only Minnesotan fishing among the world’s best bass anglers and a late qualifier for the Bassmaster Toyota Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs dominated start to finish and won the tournament Sunday. He did it with a third consecutive dominant haul of bass after two days of fishing Thursday and Friday. Home-field advantage, indeed.
It was an enthusiastic scene at the weigh-in late-afternoon Sunday. Hundreds of fishing (and Vikings) fans on the grounds of Grand Casino Mille Lacs welcomed the young bass angler from Bloomington as he approached the weigh-in stage. He rolled up pro wrestling-style with his day’s bass to chants from the crowd of “Seth” and “Feider,” and then delivered the winning bag.
Feider’s five-fish total Sunday was 26 pounds, 2 ounces, earning the cheers of his family and friends who have followed his ride to the top of the bass fishing world for two weeks. “That’s why they call him the Amazing Feider-Man!” the announcer bellowed.
Feider’s moment wouldn’t have happened without a surprise second-place finish a week ago in La Crosse, Wis. He came into the Wisconsin tournament in 69th place in Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. His second-place finish catapulted him to 50th and the last spot into the tournament on Lake Mille Lacs.
“I didn’t even think I had a chance of making it here. It’s really special this week. I had a great time out there,” Feider told the crowd. “I love showing off this fishery. … This is the best lake in the world, and we really have got to protect it, people.”
His bass combined for the tournament weighed 76 pounds, 5 ounces, beating second-place Brent Ehrler (69-13), who said, “I think it’s almost impossible to beat a guy like Seth out here.”
A second competition also went on, for the circuit’s Angler of the Year award, and it was won by Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Ala., on season points.
Feider won $12,500 for his efforts. It was also his first victory at a Bassmaster Elite series event. He came in second last week in La Crosse, Wis., earning $26,000.
“There are so many spots [on Mille Lacs] you can catch 25-pound bags off of, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “There ain’t one little secret spot out there. There is 50 spots where you can catch bags like that; that’s just how good this place is.”
Feider, 31, considered quitting last year after a rough freshman campaign. While he didn’t qualify for the 2017 Bassmaster Classic in Texas, Feider acknowledged that the arc of his career has changed forever.
Now, he said Sunday night after celebrating, it’s time to build up sponsors and capitalize on his momentum. He also plans to do some duck hunting: “That’s my favorite thing to do.”
Feider’s success is a feel-good story for a lake that until now has been more about provocative decisions regarding walleye fishing limits and controversy surrounding the state’s management of the fishery.
Again and again, professional anglers praised the lake, many saying it was the best bass water they’d ever fished.
“Stuff like that just validates what we’ve been talking about for a while, how awesome this fishery is and what the potential is here,” said Kevin McQuoid, a longtime fishing guide who owns Mac’s Twin Bay resort in Isle, Minn.
Good, too, for the Bloomington Kennedy High graduate determined to turn his fishing passion into a living.
“I got in here by the hair of my teeth,” Feider said, “and it just felt like it was meant to be after La Crosse, just getting here. I had a blast.”