OK … who’s next? | Bassmaster

When Seth Feider first came on the Bassmaster Elite Series scene back in 2015, he was a lanky, long-haired Northern outsider who, by his own admission, fished timidly in hopes of simply earning a check at every event.

He evolved first, into a confident angler who was willing to swing for the fences once in a while and finally, into the runaway Bassmaster Angler of the Year with a swagger so unmistakable it’s made him arguably the most popular angler on the planet.

The assumption that Feider is ready to relinquish his spot at the pinnacle of his profession is a foolish one. But every year about this time, I like to ponder who might be the next young pro who’s ready to take that all-important final step to ultimate stardom.

The list of potentials is long.

Since arriving on the scene in 2019, Chris and Cory Johnston have been like red wasps during the early part of deer season. You can’t get rid of them, and it seems inevitable that one of them is eventually gonna pop you with a stinger.

They both have major B.A.S.S. wins now, Chris an Elite and Cory an Open, and they’ve both been close to an AOY title. It seems only a matter of time before one of them finishes the charge.

Patrick Walters has had “superstar” written all over him since he got emotional during his first Elite Series weigh-in over his boat hitting 70 mph for the first time that morning. He’s since won an Open, an Elite and two Century Belts. What’s next?

Louisiana pro Caleb Sumrall is a former B.A.S.S. Nation champion who’s paid his dues on the Elite Series and taken some obvious lumps. But he had a breakout year in 2021 that saw him finish seventh in the AOY standings, and he seems to have developed the killer instinct it takes to win major titles on this circuit.

Speaking of killer instinct, consider Lee Livesay.

Despite a bump in the road during the crazy 2020 pandemic-interrupted season that caused him to miss the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, Livesay has established himself as a steely-eyed competitor capable of making noise, whether he’s on his home fortress of Lake Fork or up North in New York on lakes that should be far beyond his comfort zone.

Brandon Cobb, Drew Cook, Drew Benton, Austin Felix and Wes Logan have all shown signs it would be unwise to doubt them as the next guy who’ll take that next step.

Then there’s maybe the most intriguing guy on the list, Brock Mosley.

It’s human nature to pay more attention to the guy who wins an event than the guy who finishes second — and that makes it easy to forget that Mosley came close to winning back-to-back events during the 2021 season. Then he went on to finish fifth at the Classic.

He has the skills and the above-mentioned killer instinct to make an AOY charge happen. He just needs it all to come together a little more tightly than last year.

Shane LeHew, Taku Ito, Brandon Lester, Luke Palmer … the list of budding stars goes on and on.

Of course, we should all remember that old hands like Greg Hackney, Jason Christie, Gerald Swindle, Jacob Powroznik, Matt Herren, Bernie Schultz and Mark Menendez — just to name a few — are still standing in the doorway with no intention of allowing a bunch of young bucks to run over them.

Any one of those guys could put together a season for the ages in 2022, and this time next year I’ll be writing about how the word “old” simply doesn’t apply to the old guard of bass fishing.

No matter how it shakes out, man, is it gonna be fun.

As I do every year about this time, I wish it all started tomorrow.

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