UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Time to Shine for Setzer

Braxton Setzer

The route from co-angler to pro is a pretty well-trod path at this point. Of course, that’s with good reason. Fishing as a co-angler is one of the best ways to set up for a pro career.

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front.


Starting up as a co-angler

Co-angler of the Year champion Braxton Setzer was awarded a Ranger Z518c powered by a 200 horsepower Evinrude for his victory.

Hailing from Auburn, Ala., Setzer grew up fishing the Coosa and Tennessee rivers and has had his eye on a career in fishing for quite a while.

“I started school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], started the bass fishing team there and fished with UAB a couple of years,” says Setzer.

Originally a biology major, Setzer eventually determined that a change was in order, and so he transferred to Auburn University and finished out with a fisheries science degree.

As it happened, Setzer’s timing to compete in FLW College Fishing was a little bit off. When he started at Auburn the vaunted fishing team was beginning its qualification process for the next season, and it simply didn’t line up for him to get in on the action.

“At the time [2013] it was the year after Clent Davis’ rookie year,” explains Setzer. “I knew he really enjoyed traveling on the Tour, and when I transferred to Auburn I was more than half-done with my degree. So I was only going to be there about a year and a half. At the time everyone on the fishing team was trying to qualify for tournaments the next year. I enjoyed fishing in college and had a chance to travel around to some different places, but I felt like the Tour offered a better learning opportunity and fit at that point.”

And so, still finishing out his final year of school, Setzer started running with Clent Davis, Cody Meyer and Jason Johnson as a co-angler on Tour.


Getting ready

Braxton Setzer

As the 2013 season of the Walmart FLW Tour got underway, Setzer pretty quickly began enjoying some degree of success, banking top-20 finishes at Lewis Smith Lake, Grand Lake and the Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River. He followed that up with a win on Pickwick and the COY title in 2014.

“It crossed my mind to make the step after I won COY, but my original plan was three years,” details Setzer. “I wanted to meet these guys, get my feet wet and see how everything works. At the end of that year I just didn’t feel quite ready. There was something inside telling me to give it one more year out of the back of the boat and learn some more.

“I talked with Cody [Meyer] when I was in the process and told him I wasn’t quite sure. He said making the move to the front was one of the most frightening things he did and that you have to be comfortable. So I held off one more year.”

Setzer’s progress continued in 2015 with a season spent fishing as a boater in the Central Division of the Costa FLW Series and another year on Tour as a co-angler, finishing 45th in the COY standings. When the season ended, he felt that 2016 was the year to give it a shot as a pro on the FLW Tour. He was finally ready.

“Right after I graduated I got hired on with Auburn to work in their fisheries department on a grant, and that ran out last summer,” he adds. “Instead of trying to find another job in the fisheries field I decided to take a step back and try to focus on fishing.”


Putting it on the line

Though Setzer has certainly proved his mettle as a co-angler, the move to the front is much more than a few steps, and the competition is fierce. Despite following the plan, the young pro still has a full plate.

“Rookie of the Year is the big goal,” declares Setzer. “That seems to be a really good stepping stone to turn fishing into a career. I’m going to put as much work as I can into accomplishing that, but I need to start at Okeechobee with five and then catch five the next day. If you meet the smaller goals the bigger ones will just start falling into place.”

Setzer might be well placed to do it. There’s a rich tradition of fisheries science or similar degrees paying off on the tournament trail, perhaps most notably in the form of the late Ken Cook, a fisheries biologist who earned a degree in zoology and eventually became Bassmaster Classic champion. After college, Setzer’s primary job was working on the Tennessee River (Guntersville and Wheeler lakes in particular) to monitor bass diet and population.

“The scientific knowledge is nice, and you learn quite a bit, but it’s still hard to find catchable fish,” details Setzer. “There are fish absolutely everywhere. Its mind-blowing how many you can find with an electrofishing boat. It helped me a lot to stay focused and positive as a co-angler because even in a bad place you’re still around fish.”

If his FLW Series experience is to be believed, Setzer should be able to find fish pretty well. Making the adjustments to stay with them and capitalize will be the hard part.

Per Setzer, the 2015 Central Division kickoff at Grand Lake was a close miss. Despite a solid 29th-place finish he left some fish on the table at the end of day two and lost two fish that might have knocked a smaller one out of his limit and pushed him into the top 10. At Kentucky Lake, Setzer reports a great practice and then the utter failure to recognize how quickly the ledge-fishing bite would take over as the fish moved out (something that most everyone not in the top 10 missed on day one). He ended up 119th.

“Dardanelle was a little different,” Setzer reveals about the division finale. “I actually felt like I was on enough fish to do pretty decent, but I just couldn’t put them in the boat. I was catching some on a swim jig and a vibrating jig, and they just weren’t eating it. I started flipping the second day, but it was a little too late.”

He ended in 110th place for a 65th-place finish in the division rankings.

This year on Tour, the schedule looks promising. Setzer was schooled in ledge fishing by three years of practice with Clent Davis. He’s happy to flip a jig and fish grass thanks to an upbringing on the Tennessee and Coosa River impoundments. And he’s familiar with every lake on the schedule except for Champlain. Most importantly, Setzer believes he has the tools to do well.  

“Making the calls I need to make to keep myself in contention is going to be a big challenge,” allows Setzer. “I feel like I’m ready, but until we go fishing I don’t know.”

Tags: braxton-setzer  jody-white  angler-features 


1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update



1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST



2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »


Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »


5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin



Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »


Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »


2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »


FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer



Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »


Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »


Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »


How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »


Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »


Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »


Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »