As Jonathan Carter prepared for the opening day of the Bassmaster Classic on Thursday evening, he admitted that the weather he’d been experiencing just outside of Tulsa, Okla., had reminded him a bit of home.
“Today it has been pouring and about 40 degrees,” Carter said. “[Friday] it’s going to be a high of 34 and a low of 19.”
Carter said that being the first Mainer to qualify and compete in the Classic — competitive bass fishing’s biggest event of the year — did give raise some eyebrows among media members and fellow competitors.
“I get a lot of questions about Maine. People even ask me if there’s bass there, which I was pretty astounded at,” Carter said. “As far as being from the north, they say, ‘You’re used to being cold.’”
Carter, a 30-year-old graduate of Brewer High School and the University of Maine, is a teacher in South Portland. He said the cold weather that was scheduled to greet anglers on Grand Lake o’ the Ozarks Friday morning could work to his advantage.
“I’ve seen a little bit of it already [while pre-fishing the lake in cold weather],” Carter said. “Some of the guys that aren’t used to it kind of get a negative tone. These guys are pros, and they’ll deal with it. But I say, ‘It’s gonna be cold. I’ll just wear more stuff.’ That’s my only advantage.”
Carter needs any advantage he can get: He knows he’s taking on the best in the sport, many of whom are full-time professional anglers.
Fishing began Friday with 53 competitors vying for a $1.2 million prize pool. The winner of the three-day event will take home $500,000.
And even before the fishing started, Carter had already cashed in on free merchandise that is provided to all competitors.
“You get lots of apparel. I think I have four rain suits now. All of the sponsors treat you really well,” Carter said. “I was telling somebody yesterday that I could totally do this for a living.”
Though he’s a first-timer at the big event, Carter did compile a lengthy list of sponsors that have helped him prepare for the tournament. Among those: Freedomexpress.com, BassCat Boats, North Atlantic Sign and Display, Gambler Lures, Kistler Rods, Fitts Insurance, Maine Bass Nation and Power-Pole.
Carter said that confidence is the most important trait that the top-level anglers share. But he’s not willing to concede the tourney to anyone, no matter how many events they’ve won.
“These guys are all the best fishermen in the world,” Carter said. “I’ll do what I can and hopefully be able to come out on top.”