UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear 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 

Douglas Lake Selected to Host 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship

Douglas Lake Selected to Host 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship

DANDRIDGE, Tenn. – FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. The tournament, scheduled for June 3-5, showcases the nation’s best weekend anglers and awards the winner a $120,000 cash award, but Jefferson... READ MORE »

Grand Lake to Host 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship

Grand Lake to Host 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship

GROVE, Okla. – FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a... READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake has the potential to churn out some big bags – look no further than the 2019 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, when 21 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds on day one alone – but the 2020 iteration wasn’t as friendly to the college anglers who took to her waters this week. Here’s the skinny on how the top 10 teams caught their fish this week and what they caught them with. READ MORE »

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

As tough as Kentucky Lake was fishing this week in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo leading after day one and finishing the job on Thursday resulted in one of the more impressive wins you’ll see. After weighing in a day-one best 12-13, the duo backed it up with another 12-7 on day two for the victory, displaying the kind of consistency it takes to grind it out in tough fishing conditions. For their efforts, Morris and Pfundt were awarded a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-hp Mercury outboard. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Thursday’s opening round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle followed the script many anglers predicted. Despite many favorable conditions at the beginning of a peak fishing season, muddy water and bright sunshine made fishing difficult across the 34,000-acre Arkansas River impoundment. READ MORE »

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

All the major bass tournaments Lake Dardanelle has hosted since 2004 have followed different scripts, and the Toyota Series Plains Division event that kicks off today will be no different. With a schedule full of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first event of the Plains Division season, and it’s the last division to kick off in 2020. READ MORE »

High Water on Tap for College Open

High Water on Tap for College Open

By mid-September, Kentucky Lake can be absolutely lights-out when you find a big school up on its many shallow bars. This week, during the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, that’s probably not going to be the case – instead of locking a topwater in their hands, college teams are likely to take a much more varied approach. READ MORE »

Montevallo Leads College Open 

Montevallo Leads College Open 

As expected, weights were down across the board on day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open on Kentucky Lake. With high water during what’s typically a tough transitional time of year, it took just 12 pounds, 13 ounces for Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo to grab the lead. READ MORE »

Toyota Series to Host Event on Clear Lake

Toyota Series to Host Event on Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The 2020 Toyota Series Western Division will finish out their season with a tournament next week in Clearlake, California, Sept. 24-26, with the Toyota Series at Clear Lake. The three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a... READ MORE »

Foutz Claims Chick Title

Foutz Claims Chick Title

Boater Jacob Foutz of Charleston, Tenn., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division Super-Tournament at Lake Chickamauga. For his victory, Foutz earned $5,126. READ MORE »

Andalusia’s Smith Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Eufaula

Andalusia’s Smith Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Eufaula

EUFAULA, Ala. - Boater Michael M. Smith of Andalusia, Alabama brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 40 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division Super-Tournament at Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Smith earned $6,329... READ MORE »

Murray State University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Lake Guntersville

Murray State University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Lake Guntersville

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The Murray State University team of Adam Puckett of Murray, Kentucky, and Nathaniel Lear of Greenville, Kentucky, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Lake Guntersville event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce. The victory earned the Murray State bass club $2,000 and qualified them to compete in the... READ MORE »

Morgan Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Norman

Morgan Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Norman

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Boater Brian Morgan of Mooresville, North Carolina, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 24 pounds, 10 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine North Carolina Division Super-Tournament at Lake Norman. Morgan earned a total of $5,831 for his victory – his third win of the year in... READ MORE »

Freeburg’s Dickneite Earns Victory at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks

Freeburg’s Dickneite Earns Victory at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks

WARSAW, Mo. – Boater Andre Dickneite of Freeburg, Missouri, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on Lake of the Ozarks in Warsaw, Missouri. For his victory, Dickneite earned a total of $3,794... READ MORE »

Bethel Springs’ Amerson Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes

Bethel Springs’ Amerson Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes

BUCHANAN, Tenn. - Boater Keith Amerson of Bethel Springs, Tennessee, brought a two-day total of six bass to the scale weighing 22 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division Super-Tournament at Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. For his victory, Amerson earned $5,376... READ MORE »

Hallsville’s Wallis Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Truman

Hallsville’s Wallis Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Truman

WARSAW, Mo. – Boater Mike Wallis of Hallsville, Missouri, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 19 pounds, 14 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on Lake Truman in Warsaw, Missouri. For his victory, Wallis earned a total of $5,009... READ MORE »

Honnerlaw Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Lake Okeechobee

Honnerlaw Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Lake Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - Boater Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 22 pounds, 9 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Gator Division Super-Tournament at Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Honnerlaw earned $6,817... READ MORE »

Mabelvale Boater Houchin Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Lake Hamilton

Mabelvale Boater Houchin Wins Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on Lake Hamilton

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. Boater Quincy Houchin of Mabelvale, Arkansas, brought a two-day total of nine bass to the scale weighing 23 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division Super-Tournament at Lake Hamilton. For his victory, Houchin earned $13,460, which includes the lucrative FLW PHOENIX... READ MORE »

Shelbyville’s Martha Layne Collins High School Wins FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Ohio River Open

Shelbyville’s Martha Layne Collins High School Wins FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Ohio River Open

PADUCAH, Ky. – Shelbyville’s Martha Layne Collins High School duo of Johnathan Brian and Evan Hellman brought three bass to the scale Saturday weighing 7 pounds even to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing... READ MORE »

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

The 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division will wrap up in Trenton, Mich., Sept. 17-19, at the Detroit River. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »