Back in April, I read an article about a 16-year-old kid, Carson Orellana, which was titled "The next KVD?" I thought it was a great article, but a tall order for a kid to live up to a title like that. I could only imagine the pressure. Like most of the people who read the article, I wondered if I would ever hear of Carson again.
In July, while I was working at ICAST, I was introduced to this father and son that were enthusiastic and professional. Rick, the dad, bragged on his son, while his son just stood there. I thought it was awesome, because I could tell that he was his son’s biggest fan. He introduced his son, Carson, and we talked for a while. About midway through the conversation, it dawned on me. I said, “You’re 'the next KVD,' right?” He laughed and said, “I guess that’s what it says on Bassmaster.com.” We talked about that for a while, and he gave me a business card and showed me his portfolio. I was blown away at how professional Carson was at an early age.
After ICAST, we emailed a few times and decided to practice together at the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #3 on Smith Lake. It only took me about 15 minutes to realize that this kid was for real. I pulled up to a line of docks, and he started skipping a jig like a seasoned pro. Not to mention he was in the back of the boat with 10 other rod tips sticking up every which way and on his back handed side.
After a few slow hours of fishing in the dirty water of the river, we moved downlake to some clear water. Carson’s face lit up and I could tell he was more confident fishing in the clear water. I started throwing a shaky head. I hadn’t made two casts when he hollered he had one. I turned around to see a nice chunky bass with an unfamiliar bait hanging from his mouth….a white spoon (the only spoons I had ever used were chrome). I said, “What in the world is that?”
He smiled turned around and made a few more casts. I was laughing and thinking “beginner's luck” when I heard him say he had another. He pulled in another decent spotted bass. I laughed again and said, “Carson and the magical white spoon!” After that, he put it down and said he didn’t want to lose it because he was going to use it in the tournament. I was still laughing because I thought it was a fluke thing. Carson thought otherwise.
Carson went on to pretty much dominate the co-angler side of the tournament winning by nearly 3 pounds. In a tournament that was decided by ounces, a 3-pound margin is huge. You guessed it; he caught every fish on his magical white spoon. On Day Three, he had a 3-fish limit that weighed 10 1/2 lbs and was culling 2 1/2-pounders. If the co-angler limit would have been five fish, he would have had nearly 16 pounds! Only 1 of the 149 pro anglers sacked a 5-fish limit over 16 pounds for the entire tournament.
After the tournament, I asked him how many fish he had caught on a spoon prior to this tournament. “I know I could count them all on one hand,” he said. What that tells me is that he is a fast learner and establishes confidence in specific techniques much earlier than most. Some might think it was luck, but I beg to differ. Catching them for three days with three different pros means he was dialed in and knew exactly what he was doing with that spoon. He told me that if he was fishing in clear water, he knew that he would catch them. And that’s exactly what he did.
I guess he gets his confidence in the clear water from living on Lake Norman, N.C. He told me that he lives right on the lake and has a 14-foot aluminum boat with a 9.9-hp motor parked in his dock slip for easy access. He fishes out of his johnboat about three or four days a week after school. He also has a used bass boat that he only uses for tournaments. When he is not fun fishing after school, he is competing in North Carolina B.A.S.S. Federation Nation junior tournaments and local club tournaments.
Winning a national tournament in high school is quite the burden. Ha ha. He doesn’t know what he should do with the $30,000 bass boat that he won. He has debated selling it and keeping it. It is either fishing out of a brand new boat and or having plenty of money for tournament entry fees. Nevertheless, he plans on fishing the adult B.A.S.S. Federation Nation as well as the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series this next season. One thing’s for sure, he has made quite a name for himself at the early age of 17. We will all be watching to see if Carson Orellana really is the next KVD.