In mid-October, veteran professional bass angler Tim Klinger, of Boulder City, Nevada, won the 2020 WON BASS U.S. Open championship tournament on his home fishery, Lake Mead. Klinger, who previously fished at the national level on the former FLW Tour, ...
Two Mercury pros from the Gopher State successfully end their seasons on Lake Fork in Texas
The Bassmaster Elite Series wrapped up an extended 2020 season with a rescheduled Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest on legendary Lake Fork last week. A total payout of $1,000,000, year-end awards for the Elite Series and a new Toyota Tundra, awarded for the four-day tournament’s Phoenix Boats Big Bass, were all on the line, and Mercury Pro Team members enjoyed another strong showing.
Feider Wins a New Truck
Mercury Pro Team member Seth Feider, of New Market, Minnesota, spent the three official practice days on Lake Fork searching for a place to catch enough bass to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. He entered the event needing just a couple of fish to earn his way into the 51st “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing,” to be held in March 2021 on Lake Ray Roberts in Texas. As he launched on day one of the event from the Sabine River Authority access, Feider wasn’t exactly sure how the day would go.
“I hadn’t caught anything over 3 pounds in three days. I ran to my first spot (within sight of the takeoff ramp) and fished a long point where I thought I could catch something,” said Feider. “After 10 or so minutes with no bites, I moved up shallower on the point. It was overcast and windy, so I was slowly working a crankbait, a Rapala OG Slim, through wood cover in 4 to 5 feet of water. When I hooked up, I could feel the fish shaking its big head.”
At this point while telling the story, Feider grinned.
“This is the part that’s a little embarrassing,” he said. “The fish started ripping drag big time, so I thought it was a striper. She was bulldogging hard, and I was just horsing it with my thumb on the reel to keep the drag from working. I had on 12-pound fluorocarbon, and the fish finally wore down. When she came up and I lipped her, I couldn’t believe it. Two of the hooks were straightened out from me horsing it.”
It turned out that Feider’s first fish of the event was a 9-pound, 9-ounce largemouth bass.
“About an hour later, I started thinking maybe this could be the big fish of the week and win me a truck. From that point on, I was sweating it,” he recalled. “I thought about it nonstop the last three days up until all 10 boats were back to the ramp on Sunday.”
A handful of 8- and 9-pound fish were caught over the next three days, but Feider’s 9-9 held up as the biggest of the week and earned him a new Toyota Tundra truck.
He follows up Mercury Pro Team member Brandon Cobb, of Greenwood, South Carolina, who won the Big Bass award in 2019 with an 11-1 largemouth.
Feider’s giant fish also punched his guaranteed ticket to the 2021 Classic. He qualified in 12th place in the Elite Series Angler of the Year standings and joins 28 other anglers from the Mercury Pro Team who qualified out of 39 available spots from the Elite Series.
Felix Earns Rookie of the Year
Another Minnesotan, Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, took home the title of 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year during Texas Fest.
Felix earned his spot in the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series through the 2019 Bassmaster Eastern Opens. Previously, he fished the FLW Tour for four seasons and earned more than $300,000. However, Felix still qualified as an Elite Series rookie by Bassmaster standards. (Elite anglers must have less than $500,000 in career tour-level earnings at the start of their first season to qualify as a rookie.)
The former University of Minnesota bass team angler came on strong in the back half of the Elite Series season and finished seventh in the Angler of the Year Standings. Felix edged out Mercury Pro Team members Kyle Welcher (10th), of Opelika, Alabama, and Buddy Gross (11th), of Chickamauga, Georgia, for the Rookie of the Year title.
Before his steady rise in the point standings, Felix first caught the eye of tournament emcee Dave Mercer for his wardrobe during the 2020 campaign. The laid-back angler would often fish in flannel pants – the comfortable kind people wear around the house on the weekends. He would wear them over his fishing shorts and under his rain bibs. Over time, Felix became so comfortable fishing in them that he often didn’t wear the shorts underneath anymore. Naturally, Mercer enjoyed a little good-humored ribbing at Felix’s expense throughout the season.
On the water, Felix earned two top-10 finishes during the season and made the top-40 cut in seven of nine events, helping him to qualify for his first Bassmaster Classic.
“Making the Classic is a lifelong dream and was the No. 1 goal at the start of this season,” said Felix. “I will try and not think about it until it is the next tournament up, though. We have a couple of events early in 2021, so I don’t want to overlook those and dig myself a hole. I can just about guarantee that when the Classic does finally get here and I see the crowds and get on that stage, it is going to be a life-changing experience.”
Though Felix says he won’t be losing any sleep before next year’s Classic, with his signature flannel pants, he just might look like he actually overslept come tournament time.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Benefits
While the competitors at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest won awards and big prizes, anglers in Texas were also big winners thanks to the efforts of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
TPWD Inland Fisheries Division Outreach and Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Director Tom Lang was on hand to thank B.A.S.S. and its sponsors, as well as Toyota, for their support of the event.
“Since 2007, this tournament has raised more than $3.25 million for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s youth fishing and outreach programs in Texas,” Lang said. “These dollars have made a direct impact on increasing fishing participation in Texas, particularly in urban and suburban areas where access to fishing is limited. We are grateful for this support and look forward to continuing this work to bring fishing closer to Texans in the years ahead.”
During a special ceremony Sunday, TPWD honored three Toyota ShareLunker Legacy Class anglers who caught and donated 13-pound or larger largemouth bass to support TPWD’s selective breeding program in 2020. This presentation included an official announcement of the Legacy Class Prize Drawing winner for a Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
“On top of showcasing Texas’ world-class bass fisheries and promoting the conservation-minded ‘catch-weigh-and-immediate-release’ tournament format, Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest provides TPWD with an exciting opportunity to engage directly with Texans to highlight all of the outdoor opportunities available in our state,” said Lang.
For more on the Toyota ShareLunker program, visit TexasShareLunker.com.