UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Old Hickory Lake

Hunting Offshore With Setzer

Hunting Offshore With Setzer
Braxton Setzer

If Braxton Setzer wins the FLW Tour’s sixth stop of the season fishing offshore, he has a faulty trolling motor to thank for it.

The fourth-year pro, currently in fourth place in Angler of the Year standings, found himself in a tricky situation to start his practice for the Tour event on Chickamauga, presented by Evinrude. After dropping his boat in the water, Setzer was greeted by a trolling motor with power running to it, but a foot pedal that wasn’t responding.

Without a functioning trolling motor to fish shallow, Setzer decided his best move – at least to start the day – would be to idle around offshore looking for structure, and, more importantly, structure with some fish on it.

I hopped in Setzer’s boat for the morning for an up-close tutorial on finding fish offshore.

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Setzer puts in at Chester Frost Park, well south of where the Tour pros will be launching from for the event. There’s always a lot of activity in that section of the lake, and it’s Setzer’s first stop to get practice rolling.

Unbeknownst to Setzer, his trolling motor isn’t going to cooperate. He toys around with a few things for a couple minutes before Miles Burghoff – ROY and AOY leader Miles Burghoff, whom Setzer is rooming with this week – comes over to assist.

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Burghoff provides Setzer with a screwdriver to remove the top of the trolling motor head to get at the fuse he thinks might be the problem. Unfortunately, the fuse is still in working order, but it at least eliminates one possible problem. 

“It’s a sign from God you should idle all day,” Burghoff jokes.

As it turns out, that’s going to end up being the plan for the first part of it.

Knowing he isn’t going to get his trolling motor in operation for the time being, Setzer pulls out his cellphone to record a video for FLW’s Instagram account, which he’s set to take over for the day. From there, it’s off to the first spot to start idling around.

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Setzer stops in short order to mark something he likes, then proceeds to idle into Island Cove Marina in the hopes that there might be something there (and open) to repair his trolling motor. In the meantime, he’s making some calls to find someone who might be able to help.

At 7:30, Tour pro Rob Jordan meets up with Setzer with some tools and parts to get to the bottom of the problem. Despite Setzer’s understandable frustration with the issues he’s having, Jordan is positive and supportive about it.

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Jordan says. “Just have to make the best of it.”

It isn’t the power switch, so Setzer is out of options to get it up and running.

“It seems like every time I come to the Tennessee River something tears up on the first day of practice,” Setzer vents.

Still, there’s work to be done, and he has a backup plan for how to start his practice on a positive note.

At 7:48, Setzer is back to idling offshore, eyes glued to his Lowrance in search of a school of big bass or some structure that could hold some by the end of the weekend.

Braxton Setzer

“White bass city right there,” Setzer says of a big school of small fish he’s spotted. “I didn’t want to commit my whole first day of practice to looking out deep.”

Setzer really enjoys fishing offshore, though, and he’s good at it. The trick this week will be finding some offshore structure (ledges, specifically) that aren’t inundated with both tournament and local anglers. The ledges, Setzer believes, will be key this week.

“It’ll all be ledge-related,” he explains. “But are they [the fish] going to be in a graphable position? I’m sure there will be some offshore. It’ll just be a matter of what stage they’re in.”

Talk turns to the FLW Cup as Setzer continues to idle. After three top-20 finishes this year, including a second-place finish at Seminole, it stands to reason Setzer would be looking ahead to the championship event. He’s more cautious about it, though, citing his trolling motor issues as an example of what can happen when you start planning for everything to go perfectly. 

“If we can make it [to the Cup],” he says, gesturing to the bow of the boat. “You can’t ever tell what’s going to happen.”

At 8:06, Setzer finally finds some cover close to the bank that he wants to fish. For the first time all morning, a rod comes out of the rod locker, this one equipped with a (unnamed) prototype walking bait. He proceeds to make several casts before the wind pushes him out of position. Without a trolling motor, beating the bank for any period of time is going to be a tall task.

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

At 8:15, he fires up his Evinrude and cleans the screen on his main graph. It’s going to get plenty more work the rest of the morning and he wants it in top shape.

As Setzer continues making short runs in the same general area of the lake, stopping to idle around for minutes at a time, the topic of Chickamauga’s incredible population of big fish comes up. You can’t come to Chick in May and not get a little excited about the possibilities. 

Setzer has a fisheries biology degree, and he’s the perfect person to break down exactly why Chick is the big-bass factory it is.

“It’s just one of those places where everything sets up right,” he explains. “You’ve got the right nutrient level [in the water]. The right bait. The right stuff offshore. It’s just a good habitat in general.”

It’s a habitat Setzer isn’t all too familiar with this time of year. He’s fished Chick three times before, but all three times it was June or later, and all three times it was from the back of the boat as a co-angler.

Still, it’s a Tennessee River fishery, and Setzer is no stranger to those.

By 9:05, the sun has come out in earnest and Setzer’s hood goes up. It’s turning into a pleasant morning, despite the mechanical issues. If you’re going to idle around all morning, it’s a fine one to do so.

Braxton Setzer

“There’s a dang group of fish out here somewhere,” he says while looking intently at his graph. “They may not be out this far yet.”

Setzer’s fourth season as a Tour pro has been one of improvement. He’s starting to fully realize his potential to run with anyone on the circuit. His second-place finish on Seminole was “pretty special,” as he puts it, but it was Cherokee – the Tour’s most recent stop – that Setzer enjoyed so much throughout the week.

“I really enjoyed Cherokee even though I didn’t catch them great,” he says of fishing for smallmouths. “I am itching to get up there [to Champlain]. I like that place.”

For now, he’ll have to settle for hunting double-digit hawgs in eastern Tennessee.

By 9:20, Setzer has a few places he plans to come back to fish when he has a working trolling motor. It hasn’t been a great morning for finding gold offshore, but it’s a start. Asked what he’d be throwing at the fish he’s marked, he has this to say:

“It depends, really. A jig, a worm, crankbait, swimbait… Just depends on what you can get them going on.”

A little while later, Setzer idles over a particularly intriguing ledge, but it’s one he expects almost everyone else to know about, including the mass of local anglers running around all over the lake.

“You’d have to be boat No. 1 with a 30-minute head start to get on that,” he jokes.

Braxton Setzer

Setzer once again finds a juicy laydown to throw his walking bait, but nothing offers at it. After just a couple casts, the rod is strapped back on the deck and the idling commences.

By 10:30, Setzer is beginning to get anxious to find a different boat to practice in for the rest of the day. He has a couple leads and expects to be back out on the water in short order once he drops me off at Chester Frost. 

“I try not to get frustrated about it, but I feel so handicapped,” Setzer admits.

The plan for the afternoon is simple: Find a boat to practice in the rest of the day. And so, he heads back to Chester Frost and drops me off around 11:15. His boat is going back on the trailer and tucked away until someone can have a look at his trolling motor, hopefully on Monday. 

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Braxton Setzer

Setzer does eventually find another boat to practice in after I’m off the water and on the road. It’s business as usual once again.

It’s just a bumpy start, and Setzer knows he’ll be back on track in the afternoon, when he plans on beating the bank a bit to see what the shallow bite is all about.

And with a few hours of graphing already under his belt, he’s already making progress – even if it might not feel like it right now.

Tags: flw  chickamauga  bass-fishing  fishing-tournament  justin-onslow  pre-tournament  2019-05-02-lake-chickamauga 

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

After a four-month hiatus, it’s almost time for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division to get back after it. The season resumes on July 18 and July 19 with back-to-back tournaments on Pickwick Lake. While each tournament may fish a bit like a two-day event, each day of competition is a standalone tournament with a winner crowned after each day. READ MORE »

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

Michigan Division Kicks Off on St. Clair

There’s nothing better than clear water and big smallmouths, and that’s exactly what the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Michigan Division plans to deliver this year. The division, which is presented by ARE, is set to open the season July 18 on Lake St. Clair in what should be a heavyweight showdown of smallmouths. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

Hoosier Division Heads for Ohio River

After kicking off the season on Lake Monroe with a double-header at the end of June, the Hoosier Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine turns east for stop No. 3 on the Ohio River at Tanners Creek. READ MORE »

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

Everything in Play on Mighty Miss

The Mississippi River is the staple venue of the Great Lakes Division in Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine competition. Come July 18, the division will take its first crack at the Mighty Miss in what could shape up to be a diverse event. READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

Kentucky Lake Could be Won Deep or Shallow

As we saw a couple weeks ago at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the Tennessee River is capable of churning out big bags of bass both deep and shallow. We’ll probably be reminded of the Chickamauga event on July 18, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division competes on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Conditions should be similar, with both deep and shallow patterns in the mix.   READ MORE »

Toyota Series Set to Visit Lake Erie for Northern Division Opener

Toyota Series Set to Visit Lake Erie for Northern Division Opener

SANDUSKY, Ohio – The 2020 Toyota Series will open the Northern Division with a tournament next week at Lake Erie, July 9-11, with the Toyota Series at Lake Erie. Hosted by the City of Sandusky, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a... READ MORE »

Iowa’s Riceville High School Wins 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on Mississippi River

Iowa’s Riceville High School Wins 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on Mississippi River

STODDARD, Wis. – Iowa’s Riceville High School duo of Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite brought a three-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces to win the 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River in Stoddard, Wisconsin. Riceville’s three-day total of nine bass totaling 30-4 gave them the win by a 1... READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

Scottsburg’s McClain and Noblesville’s Drake Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Lake Monroe presented by Fish-Intel

Scottsburg’s McClain and Noblesville’s Drake Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Lake Monroe presented by Fish-Intel

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Bloomington with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Lake Monroe events presented by Fish-Intel. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after... READ MORE »

Sheridan’s Richmond Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Ouachita

Sheridan’s Richmond Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Ouachita

MOUNT IDA, Ark. (June 29, 2020) – Boater Russell Richmond of Sheridan, Arkansas, brought three bass to the scale Saturday totaling 11 pounds, 5 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Ouachita in Mount Ida, Arkansas. Richmond topped his nearest competitor, Stephen... READ MORE »

Skiatook’s Webb Wins Saturday, Eldon’s Fitzpatrick and Grove’s Gilbreath Tie Sunday at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Arkansas River

Skiatook’s Webb Wins Saturday, Eldon’s Fitzpatrick and Grove’s Gilbreath Tie Sunday at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Arkansas River

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Muskogee with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on the Arkansas River events. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after the coronavirus pandemic forced READ MORE »

Occoquan’s Pirowski Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Potomac River

Occoquan’s Pirowski Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Potomac River

MARBURY, Md. – Boater Alex Pirowski of Occoquan, Virginia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland. For his victory, Pirowski earned a total of $5,337... READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

When you put one of the largest and most talented fields of bass anglers on one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, big things are bound to happen. The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga became a battle between shallow and deep, with pros on either side catching big stringers of giant bass. Here's how they did it. READ MORE »

“FLW Fishing” to Premiere on Outdoor Channel  Friday, July 3

“FLW Fishing” to Premiere on Outdoor Channel Friday, July 3

BENTON, Ky. – FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today the 2020 season of “FLW Fishing” will debut on the Outdoor Channel, Friday, July 3 (7 to 9 p.m. EDT)... READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

Due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, FLW will shift its July 9-11 Toyota Series Northern Division opener from the St. Lawrence River at Massena, N.Y., to Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

When so many anglers are throwing similar baits and running similar patterns, doing something a little different can be quite the advantage. Sure enough, the pros who made the top 10 at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga all had techniques or tactics of their own to set themselves apart. READ MORE »

Wheeler Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga

Wheeler Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga

DAYTON, Tenn. – Major League Fishing (MLF) pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught a final-day five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 6 ounces to win $125,000 in the $1.3 million Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament at Lake Chickamauga. Wheeler topped his closest competitor, Cole... READ MORE »

Losee, Tweite Close out High School Championship

Losee, Tweite Close out High School Championship

The Riceville (Iowa) High School team of Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite won the 2020 Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis., with a three-day (three bass per day) total weight of 30 pounds, 4 ounces. Losee and Tweite topped 194 of the top high school teams in the country. READ MORE »

It’s All Wheeler on Chickamauga

It’s All Wheeler on Chickamauga

You’re not going to find a bass angler on a hotter streak right now than Tennessee’s Jacob Wheeler. Prior to this week, the 29-year-old pro had won five multiple-day tournaments since the start of the 2019 season. Today, the No. 1 ranked angler in the world added a sixth victory to his impressive run by dominating the first-ever Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga. Wheeler’s four-day total of 93 pounds, 12 ounces earned him the win by a margin of more than 11 pounds. READ MORE »