CARTER DOREN:BIG BASS ZONE JR CHAMP TO HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICAN
Editor: I recently was introduced to an exciting young Nevada angler- Carter Doren- by our friend and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame angler Bill Siemantel. Carter is a very accomplished high school angler and was just named by B.A.S.S. to the All-American High School Fishing Team. I am thankful that Carter had the time to sit down with us to discuss his fishing journey, Bill’s Big Bass Zone Junior Tournament Series, and a variety of other topics.
iBass360: How did you get started fishing? Who have been your mentors?
Carter: I started fishing when I was introduced to online content creators. I credit video makers like Jon B. and Lake Fork Guy with first getting my interest focused on fishing. I would say my mentors have been a fisherman who fishes local events with me from whom I have had the privilege of watching and learning, and Bill Siemantel.
iBass360: Was there a moment, an event, something that made you realize that you and fishing were going to have more than just a casual relationship?
Carter: I remember a defining moment that marked the turn in my life towards a bass fishing career- it was my first tournament. We won that tournament with over 20 pounds. I keep the plaque from that event in a prominent place as a reminder of how far I have come since then.
iBass360: You live in Las Vegas- a place known more for casinos, showgirls, and golfing. How is the organized fishing community in your state and how welcoming has it been for young anglers?
Carter: There are 3 different clubs here in town and 2 main circuits. We have Nevada Bass Nation, which is the circuit I have chosen to fish, and the TBF Nation. Ever since joining as a 14- year- old kid, I have felt nothing but kindness and friendship from the club members and Nation members. We are truly a tight knit family that relies on each other due to our small size.
iBass360: Your fishing success has covered some territory- Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho among other places. These are not quick trips to the local lakes. How do you find the time to learn these bodies of water, fish the events and balance that with the normal demands placed on a high school student?
Carter: With online schooling, like we have in Las Vegas, it’s easy to take school anywhere. But in normal times it can be a struggle to balance fishing and schoolwork. It takes practice to achieve that perfect balance. Before even making a trip, I spend numerous hours on all sorts of websites and programs trying to learn as much about the structure of the lake and how it fishes- all without being on the water. I also throw baits in which I have confidence and that I believe I can use to catch big fish. This tends to help me fish better and results in me worrying less about my bait selection.
iBass360: In achieving what you achieved so far, what do you think you have done right, and what were the mistakes from which you have learned the most?
Carter: I believe I owe a lot of my success to surrounding myself with very highly skilled anglers and being observant and learning all I can from them. I fished as a co-angler every weekend for 2 ½ years, and I believe that is where I gained a lot of my knowledge. I think one of my biggest mistakes was not buying proper gear when I was new to the fishing world. I wish I had saved up and bought better equipment than the multiple budget friendly setups that often “broke down” and failed to help me learn to use the right equipment in the right situation.
iBass360: You have had success in the Big Bass Zone tournament series. How did you hear about it and what advice would you give to young anglers about getting involved in tournament fishing?
Carter: I learned about the BBZJC from Facebook promotions posted by Bill Siemantel. This is an opportunity for teen anglers to get some real experience and at the same time earn some prize money. The biggest piece of advice I could give someone interested in competitive fishing is to always be prepared when you are on the water. You never know when a big one might bite, so I always have my ruler, card, and phone- charged- whenever wetting a line. I submitted 95% of my fish in 2019 and 2020 while fishing other tournaments. When I finished weighing my fish, I would take photos and submit them- doubling up on one fish!
iBass360: Your jersey sports some good brands in the fishing community. How have you gone about gaining sponsorships and the money it takes to commit to tournament fishing? What advice would you give to other young anglers in this regard?
Carter: I think of a sponsorship as more of a partnership that is mutually beneficial to both parties. I don’t partner with companies if I don’t have 100% confidence in what they produce and what they stand for. As far as the finances, fishing may be expensive, but I see the money I am spending as an investment in my success. For example, a $300 rod or a new boat may seem expensive upfront but a good quality rod will pay for itself in more fish caught and will last longer than a budget one. A high- quality boat will last for years if you treat it right and will also pay for itself by giving you the tools to be organized for doing well in tournaments. I would tell any new angler to save their money and purchase good quality equipment because it will pay for itself in money saved, money won, and memories that last a lifetime.
iBass360: You were recently named to the 2021 Bassmaster All-American fishing team. What does that mean and how does a young angler achieve such an honor?
Carter: Having the title of “All-American” is such a prestigious thing because only 12 anglers are chosen per year. The honor of being a part of that special 12 is mind blowing and I still can't believe it. I received an honorable mention for the All-State team in 2020 so coming back in 2021 and not only earning All-State honors but getting named All-American makes it all the sweeter. I see it as a sign of definite improvement, and I am absolutely honored and can't wait to go and compete out east!
iBass360: Do you have a favorite style of fishing- “go to” presentations, styles or lures?
Carter: I love to fish a jig on points and flip bushes for largemouth, but if I’m on a deep smallmouth fishery there are not very many opportunities to do well doing that. I still love catching them on a jig, but increasingly, I have found myself becoming a finesse fisherman. There are few tournaments where I don’t have multiple dropshots on the deck- regardless of the time of year. I have worked hard to be versatile, able to fish a lot of different types of styles and lures, but finesse fishing and jigs are where I truly feel most comfortable.
iBass360: Is there one achievement or recognition you have had that stands above the others? If so, why is that honor or event particularly special?
Carter: Winning Bill Siemantel's 2020 Big Bass Zone Junior Championship holds a very special place in my heart, even though that win is relatively recent. After a last place performance in 2019, it feels so good to have come back for the win. I believe it shows the amount of work I put in, and the improvement I made in a short amount of time. I am very proud of are my 2020 AOY for my local club series and my two Nevada State Championship wins. That something very special about Bill’s BBZJC series- any teen angler can go after the state title is his or her home state. That part of the series is virtual. You basically have all spring and summer to “fill your bag” and compete to get the honor of moving on the real deal- the 50 angler BBZ Jr. Championship. I am already competing for my third Nevada title.
iBass360: Are you fishing any specific organized high school fishing series? How did you work your way into these?
Carter: We have 2 high school fishing clubs here in Vegas- one affiliated with B.A.S.S called Sin City Bass Club and a TBF affiliated series called Boulder City Bass Club. Anyone can join either club, all they need is a fishing license and an eagerness to learn!
iBass360: What are the near term and longer-term goals for Carter Doren and fishing?
Carter: My short-term goal is to catch a largemouth bass 7 lbs. or better. I think I can do it considering the caliber of locations I will be fishing this year. I'll be on lake for the All-American that has yet to be made public. Then I will be fishing the California Delta, and the famous El Salto in Mexico. This will be followed by another yet-to-be publicized lake for the B.A.S.S HS Nationals. I also have opportunities to fish Clear Lake, and Lake Havasu multiple times. So I truly believe that I can make it happen at one of these lakes each known for producing trophy caliber bass. My more long-term goals are to make it onto the Bassmaster Elites. Having looked up to the Elite anglers for a long time, I think they are the absolute best and hope I get to compete against them in the future, but for now, high school- and hopefully college- fishing, starting with fishing next month in the All-American tournament, will be my focus for the next couple of years.
iBass360: Anything else you want your fans, followers, and other young anglers to know about you and about competitive youth angling?
Carter: I hope every teen angler or parent of a teen angler that sees this article goes out and purchases a BBZJC entry and starts submitting fish ASAP. This tournament is not expensive, yet it is one of the best run tournaments I have ever fished. For just $28 or $53 you get the chance to win $75,000 like I did. Young anglers should also get involved in their local clubs if they aren't already because fishing with better anglers is how you learn and get better yourself! Finally, I am active on social media- Instagram and Facebook- and I would greatly appreciate a follow and have the opportunity to help out any fellow anglers I can. You can find me on Instagram @carterdoren and as Carter Doren on Facebook. Besides that, I really want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me on my journey so far, there’s much more to come!
iBass360: Thanks Carter for all your insights. All the best in your upcoming tournaments. We would love to see you 3-peat in Nevada and reach your goal of a personal best bass while doing it. It is great seeing a next gen angler #LiveThePassion of Bass fishing!