There’s not much on the line this weekend when Jonathan Carter of Orrington faces off against the world’s best bass fishermen in the Bassmaster Classic.
Not much at all.
Except for that top prize of a half million dollars. Or any of the smaller prizes that make up the total of $1.2 million that will be handed out.
Oh. And then there’s this: Carter, a Brewer High and University of Maine graduate who now teaches in South Portland, could parlay his participation in his sport’s biggest event into a full-time career as a tournament bass angler. That, you might imagine, is a lifelong dream for Carter.
OK. So maybe this is the most important weekend of fishing that Carter has ever embarked upon. Bright and early Friday, he’ll find out if he’s got what it takes to contend for a tourney title against men who do nothing but fish (and promote their sponsors’ gear) all year long.
The Bassmaster Classic kicks off Friday on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees in Oklahoma. The nation’s best bass anglers will compete for bragging rights, prize money, and the shot to become an instant legend by winning what is essentially the sport’s Super Bowl.
Carter has been “pre-fishing” Grand Lake this week in preparation for the tournament. In a Thursday voice mail, Carter said he was enjoying a bit of success, but hoping for better results when the tourney begins.
“So far, pre-fish has been OK.,” Carter said. “I wish I was on a little bit bigger fish. I think I’m around them all right. I’ve just got to make them bite. Everybody’s been doing pretty much the same thing out here.”
And while Carter’s northern roots have been a topic of discussion among journalists and bloggers covering the Classic, he said the conditions in Oklahoma may actually favor a guy who has “practiced” while ice fishing this winter.
“It’s been real cold and crazy weather and a lot of the guys aren’t used to that cold, which gives me a little bit of an advantage,” said Carter, who has spent the past dozen years fishing bass tournaments, including some downright chilly ones right here in Maine.
“Yesterday it snowed about two inches while we were out there fishing, but it wasn’t bad compared to Maine,” Carter said.
According to the Bassmaster website, Carter is the first Mainer to ever earn a berth in the Classic.
The Bassmaster Classic is immensely popular among recreational and tournament anglers, and the weigh-in is a much more high-octane affair than you’d find at your local or state-level tourneys.
According to a Bassmaster blog post, about 10 years ago anglers were asked what song they wanted played when they were introduced on the weigh-in stage. A list of those songs was provided on the blog Thursday.
Bass-fishing legend Kevin Van Dam, for instance, will be introduced to the strains of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”
He chose Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode.”