UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Detroit River

Time to Shine for Setzer

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 

Nelson Clinches AOY

Nelson Clinches AOY

Winning the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year title is no mean feat, but Ron Nelson made it look easy this year. Finishing 11th or better in the first three events at Sam Rayburn, the Harris Chain and Lake Martin, the Michigan pro kept it rolling in the second phase of the season when the Super Tournaments started. At Chickamauga he made the cut and finished 41st, then finished 12th at the Mississippi River and locked up the title by making the top 50 (currently in 18th place) at Lake Erie. For his win, Nelson will get his 2021 Pro Circuit entry fees paid, as well as a nice piece of hardware for his mantle. READ MORE »

ROY Update: Mississippi River

ROY Update: Mississippi River

The most recent Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries at the Mississippi River was a pivotal one for the season-long points races. On the Angler of the Year side of things, Ron Nelson widened his lead tremendously. In the Polaris Rookie of the Year race, Kyle Hall roared from third place into first. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Mississippi River

AOY Update: Mississippi River

Ron Nelson has led the way in the Angler of the Year race in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit since the very early going. Now, with just one event left, he’s opened up a fairly massive gap between himself and the rest of the field. READ MORE »

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

The season finale of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will take place on Lake Erie, out of Sandusky, Ohio, on August 11-14. The third of three special Super Tournaments, over 200 pros from FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) will fish in the event. The winner will take home $125,000 and the event will decide who wins the Angler of the Year title, the Polaris Rookie of the Year title and which Pro Circuit anglers qualify for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

The top pros in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River ended up using fairly similar tactics to attack the river, but with slight variations throughout. Tom Monsoor won with a variety of unique jigs, but many of the other top finishers used more standard fare. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

In his fourth year on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Grae Buck has really come into his own. A standout collegiate angler at Penn State, he’s now in the thick of the Angler of the Year race and cruising toward qualification for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota. READ MORE »

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

For Jake Ormond, this is his first time fishing north of Tennessee, and thus his first time fishing the upper Mississippi. He’s not the only one lacking Mississippi River experience in the field, but considering many of the Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers that are part of the Super Tournament field have competed on the river a number of times, he’s got his work cut out for him. READ MORE »

Assessing the ROY Race

Assessing the ROY Race

With the final two events of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit regular season slated for the Mississippi River and Sandusky Bay, on Lake Erie, there’s really no candidate that is perfectly suited for both. Because of that, the final two events set up well to test true fishing talent, and it won’t be easy for someone to get on a roll to close it out. READ MORE »

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Adult mayflies only live for about 24 hours out of the water, but during that brief window, they can dramatically affect the prospects of catching a bunch of fish. At the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, Miles Burghoff based a lot of his success on schools of bass that were related to the mayfly hatch. Joey Cifuentes also keyed on the mayfly hatch, and his strategy provides a great playbook for responding to mayfly hatches in a variety of situations. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Lee Rogers mixed smallmouths from the nearby islands with a good largemouth day near Sandusky to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Outside of Rogers, the top 10 was filled with folks making substantial runs eastward or to Michigan. It also proved helpful to actually get something going around Sandusky, both during days one and two and on the wind-hampered final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

From a weather standpoint, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has been almost too perfect. Slick and hot from the start, anglers have been able to go wherever they want and fish however they want. READ MORE »

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

The weights on day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie were about what folks expected: plenty of quality fish, but a lack of the plump 4- and 5-pounders that Erie is so known for. Weighing one of only two bags over 20 pounds, Scott Dobson put 20-12 on the scale after a day of fishing that took him as far from Sandusky as the mouth of the St. Clair River. READ MORE »