On Saturday night, Jonathan Carter of Orrington held out hope that a 30-pound “bag” of five fish lurked out in Oklahoma’s Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees. Catch five that averaged six pounds apiece — an epic day by any stretch of the imagination — and Carter thought a lucky angler might be able to catch up with any front-runner in the 43rd Bassmaster Classic.
Carter obviously hoped he’d be that fisherman, and would somehow find a way to vault from seventh place to win his first in his first appearance at his sport’s marquee event.
That’s not how the day turned out.
Carter, the first Mainer to ever compete in tournament bass-fishing’s Super Bowl, struggled throughout the day on Sunday, landed just three fish he could keep and weigh, and fell from seventh to 17th place among the world’s top anglers. Carter’s three fish on Sunday weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces. His three-day total was 36 pounds, 10 ounces.
The winner, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., earned a $500,000 payday by winning the Bassmaster Classic. His three-day total: 54 pounds, 12 ounces. Pace was dominant, catching fish weighing 43 pounds, 4 ounces through just the first two days of the event. If he hadn’t even headed out on the lake on Sunday, his two-day total would have been good enough for seventh place overall.
But Pace did return to the lake on Sunday, catching fish weighing another 11 pounds, 8 ounces, despite fishing for six straight hours without a single bite, he said on the Bassmaster webcast of the weigh-in.
The remaining anglers will split the remainder of the $1.2 million prize pool.
The 30-year-old Carter is a graduate of Brewer High School and the University of Maine, and works as a first-grade teacher in South Portland.
In all, 53 anglers began fishing on Friday. The field was cut to 25 fishermen after two rounds, and those 25 headed onto sprawling Grand Lake for the final round on Sunday.
Many of the anglers struggled to catch legal-sized fish on Sunday: Just 13 of the 25 fishermen in the field were able to catch a full bag limit of five fish.
Among those who didn’t catch five fish on Sunday: The champion, Pace.