Ian Carter, wise beyond his 17 years about bass and how to catch them, demonstrated that last year while pre-fishing for a Northeast Louisiana High School Anglers regular-season tournament at Lake Claiborne.
It was a great, although painful, experience for one of the state’s most accomplished high school bass fishermen.
The son of John and Ashley Carter, Carter was on the water with his father after a freeze iced over the shallows. Spawning bass were difficult to find despite thawing conditions.
The Sterlington High School junior had a hunch the freeze came before bass in the grass had time to escape to deeper water, so they stayed put. He was right on. The bass anglers stopped and fished a grass bed on their way out of the creek.
His dad hooked a monster, perhaps a double-digit bass in matted grass, on a ½-ounce swim jig. The “hawg” spit out the swim jig with its lead head, which flew like a bullet and smashed the younger angler’s tooth.
“It kind of happened so quick it didn’t hurt. My dad asked, ‘Are you OK?’. I fished for three more hours,” Carter said, noting blood covered his mouth and lower face.
Toughing it out
The tooth’s roots were damaged and he had to have surgery the next day on Friday. On Saturday, he fished and won the tournament in those grass beds.
A few weeks later, Carter got his hands on his personal best bass, a 9.20-pounder, while scouting before a state championship tournament on the Red River. The “hawg” slammed a 6-inch golden bream 6th Sense Divine Swim Jig.
He’s proud of that big bass but, he said, “I wish I could have caught her that day of the tournament. I did get a 7.”
Carter began fishing bass tournaments as a seventh-grader. He started fishing at age 3, he said, with his dad, mostly targeting crappie.
When he was old enough and the family was living along Bayou D’Arbonne, he’d fish for bass along the bank or take the boat from the boat slip and use the trolling motor.
“I was just steadily working on getting better. Like when I first started fishing, I couldn’t even throw a baitcaster. I’d backlash every time. I was just practicing, steadily, to get better. Really, right before I started fishing tournaments, something about it made me want to fish more and more,” he said.
It all paid off
His practice and savvy paid off. As a sophomore, Carter and Cameron Trichel, a junior, won the NELAHS Anglers AOY. The Sterlington team qualified for nationals that year and the previous year in Major League Fishing/The Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation.
Going into his junior year, Carter decided to fish with Colby Dark of West Monroe High School’s Bayou Ratz. Carter and Dark haven’t skipped a beat. On Jan. 24, they finished second in an MLF High School Fishing tournament at Toledo Bend with 14 pounds, 12 ounces, to qualify for the MLF High School Fishing National Championship coming up June 22-25 at Pickwick and Wilson lakes in Florence, Alabama. He and his partners have finished in the top 20 in 14 different high school events and even won and placed high in some open tournaments in the area along with qualifying for nationals three years in a row.
Carter’s favorite body of water to fish around home in June is Bayou Bartholomew Lake.
“I’ve learned how to catch them pretty good,” he said, then talked about how to fish it this month. “That’s when everything’s getting hotter and the fish pull into deeper water. The fish get out in the brushtops, normally in 10 to 15 feet of water. You have to have Panoptix (live imaging). It really gives them away,” he said, noting he targets the midlake area. “If not, go down the bank with a Sidescan and mark a bunch of them, then go back and fish them. Fishing those brushtops, normally I throw a 10-inch Zoom Ol’ Monster, a dark color like black, South African, even watermelon or green pumpkin, depending on the water color down there.”
Don’t forget Dadoo
Carter said his sponsors include Rougarou Tackle, Hammer Fishing Rods, Dark Construction, Benoit Ford and “I can’t ever forget ‘Dadoo Inc.” The latter is special, the elder Carter said, because that’s his son’s maternal grandfather, Jimmy McCain.
“We just call him that (Dadoo Inc.),” John Carter said.
McCain furnishes “all kinds of stuff,” including an RV, and follows them on the road, including a tournament last year in South Carolina … after finding a dialysis center for his treatment.
John Carter, 52, who works in maintenance for the U.S. Postal Service, has been his son’s boat captain until this year. This year’s boat captain is Kegan Bretton of Sterlington, John Carter’s close friend.
John Carter has time to help his wife run the NELAHS Anglers. She became the third director in the trail’s storied history when she took over in 2021.
Bretton said, “I enjoy going out with the kids. We’re doing good. We’ve got two very talented kids – Colby and Ian. His partner last year (Trichel) was, too. They’ve got a good future. They make us all proud.”
Carter’s future includes, hopefully, he said, fishing as a collegiate bass angler and, perhaps, later, in the Bassmaster Opens or an MLF circuit.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.