TEEN'S GOAL- IMPROVE EVERY TIME OUT
Bassmaster has made it a priority to develop the next generation of competitive bass anglers. They have created different opportunities for encouraging young people, particularly teens, to get involved in bass tournament fishing. They provide a tournament platform for regional and national team fishing for high school students. Through a screening process, they award All State and All-American recognition to teen anglers, and they support Bill Siemantel’s Big Bass Zone Junior Championship series. Carson Forrester, from Chambersburg, PA., is a young angler on the rise who has taken advantage of some of these opportunities to improve his fishing. iBass360 caught up with him to discuss how he got into fishing, what his current activities are and what his plans are for his fishing future.
iBass360: How did you get started fishing? Who have been your mentors?
Carson: My Pap introduced me to fishing at a very young age, mainly fishing ponds and streams. As I got older, I enjoyed fishing for bass, and in 2017 I started fishing tournaments. Since we did not have a bass boat at the time, we reached out to a family friend, Earle Lightner, who agreed to be my boat captain for my first two years of competition. My dad fished as a kid, but had not
done much since then. But being supportive of my developing passion, he traded our pontoon for a bass boat and we have enjoyed fishing together, and he has been my boat captain ever since.
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? When did you realize that tournament fishing was going to be a driving force in your life?
Carson: I have enjoyed catching fish from the time I was little. However, the moment that I realized that tournament fishing was a driving force in my life was winning the 2017 Pennsylvania B.A.S.S Nation Junior State Championship. My partner was Dylan Barefoot, and it was our first PA B.A.S.S tournament together. As luck would have it, the tournament was scheduled for our home lake, Raystown Lake. Winning that tournament was so special and I was on cloud 9. There have been highs and lows since, but that was special, and as a result, I'm always waiting for the bite that takes me back to that winning feeling.
iBass360: You live in Central PA, known for trout fishing. How is the organized fishing community in your state and how welcoming has it been for young anglers?
Carson: Living in Chambersburg, PA, the closest lake is more than an hour away, so bass fishing is limited. When my interest in tournament fishing began, my mom researched fishing clubs and found Capital City Junior Bassmasters, which I joined. Joining this club led me to be introduced to Ernie Watkins, the Director of Pennsylvania B.A.S.S. He helped us start a bass club at my
school which gave us a way to fish in Bassmaster tournaments. My partner and I were the first bass fishing team at Chambersburg High School.
iBass360: Your fishing success has covered the mid-Atlantic. How do you find/ make the time to learn these bodies of water, fish the events and balance that with the normal demands placed on high school students?
Carson: The lakes of the mid-Atlantic are very diverse fisheries. You can catch smallmouth in 40 feet in crystal clear water then drive two hours to fish dirt shallow largemouth in tidal waters. You have to be a well-rounded angler to be consistent. I believe spending time on the water has helped me to adapt to the new conditions when needed. I have kept a fishing journal since 2015 on all my catches. Seeing the patterns, weather, location, baits and cover the fish seek, helps me put together a game plan when its time to go fishing.
iBass360: In achieving what you have achieved, what do you think you have done right, and what were the mistakes from which you have learned?
Carson: I think spending lots of time on the water has helped me. Also, this year I am fishing in the Major League Fishing BFL regional series as a co-angler. This helps me by fishing with different people and seeing their different strategies and fishing styles. When I started tournament fishing, the first couple years when I couldn't catch them were very frustrating. This caused me to overthink things. Now I've learned to stay calm and appreciate the time on the
water. If you’ve prepared well and put in your time, when it's your time to win it'll happen.
iBass360: You have fished in the Big Bass Zone tournament series. How did you hear about it, how have you done, and what advice would you give to other anglers about getting involved in this form of tournament fishing?
Carson: I have fished the Big Bass Zone Junior Championship trail for two years. I joined late in 2019 after my mom saw an ad for the tournament on Facebook. Bill Siemantel created this tournament for young anglers to have the chance to fish on a national level and win big prizes they could help them with College or their fishing future. In my opinion, he has created the best championship trail in youth bass fishing. I would recommend it to any teenager that enjoys fishing and wants a shot on the state and national level. In 2019, I won the State title for Maryland and then finished 24th at the National Championship. In 2020, I won the state of
Pennsylvania and finished 11th at the National Championship. I am looking forward to getting back to the National again this year.
iBass360: Your jersey sports some good brands in the fishing community. How have you gone about gaining sponsorship and the money it takes to commit to tournament fishing?
Carson: I think to get anywhere in the fishing industry you need to be active on social media. You also have to take advantage of the many opportunities companies offer. Any way you can promote good companies and cut costs can be helpful for both you and the company. I have gotten my high school team involved in the Seaguar Line Scholastic program as well as other contingency programs that various tournament series offer.
iBass360: You were recently recognized by the Bassmaster All-American fishing program. Congratulations! What does that mean and how does a young angler achieve such recognition.
Carson: This year I was named to the 2021 Bassmaster All-American All-State team. I am hoping this leads to recognition at the All-American level in 2022. Maintaining a good GPA, tournament
success, and volunteering are all things they take into consideration in their nominations. Last year I was an honorable mention, so making the All- State team for 2021 out of the over 300 applicants, is an accomplishment.
iBass360: Do you have a favorite style of fishing? A go to presentation, style or lure?
Carson: If I am fishing for smallmouth, I enjoy finesse fishing- throwing baits like dropshots, wacky worms, hair jigs, jerkbaits and ned rigs. For largemouth, I enjoy flipping and chatterbaits, as well as throwing big swimbaits.
iBass360: Is there one achievement or recognition you have had that stands above the others? If so, why is that achievement particularly special?
Carson: All of my achievements are special in their own way. One of my favorite wins was winning the Caleb's Legacy Highschool Team Open on Pinchot Lake. This win is special because
the weekend prior, we thought we were on some good fish and zeroed. I practiced at the lake throughout the week, threw my prior pattern out the door, and searched for something new. I thought I found something that worked and hoped the fish would stay for the weekend. On tournament day, my partner and I caught our limit within an hour, and were able to cull many times throughout the day. We ended up winning the tournament and I got lunker. That was our biggest bag and my biggest bass caught throughout the whole year of that tournament series. I was really able to prove something to myself moving from zero to a win with hard work.
iBass360: Are you fishing any specific organized high school fishing series? How did you work
your way into these?
Carson: Yes, I am fishing the Major League Fishing, Bassmaster, and Student Angler Federation tournaments. I started with Bassmaster events in 2017, then started to fish the others in 2018. I
am also fishing the Big Bass Zone Junior Championship, which I've fished since it started.
iBass360: What are the near term and longer- term goals for Carson Forrester and fishing- current? college? Beyond?
Carson: My current goal in fishing is to learn something new and improve my fishing with every trip on the water. Beyond that, I want to continue fishing tournaments and hope to continue that as far as I can.
iBass360: Anything else you want your fans, followers, and other young anglers to know about you and about competitive youth angling?
Carson: I enjoy being in touch and sharing fishing knowledge and ideas with other anglers- young and more experienced. I would appreciate it if people would follow me on Instagram at Carsonforrester_ and on Facebook and Youtube at Carson Forrester Fishing.
We at iBass360 appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts with the 360Nation, and we wish you lots of continued success!