Unless you see B.A.S.S. tournament angler Carson Orellana, you’d never guess he’s just 16 years old. That’s because for somebody that age he carries the marketing credentials of a fully-grown adult pro.
He’s got a cleverly appointed website (carsonorellana.com), a growing list of sponsors, and a professionally designed logo. That logo is emblazoned across his tournament jerseys and fully wrapped boat.
He aspires to some day win the Bassmaster Classic. Sound familiar? Look out Kevin VanDam, because here he comes.
Orellana fished the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open as an amateur on Lake Norman, his home lake. The week prior he competed on Lake Okeechobee at the Junior Bassmaster competition held during the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional. Prior to that Orellana kicked off his tournament season as a non-boater at the Southern Open held in Florida at the Harris Chain.
He plans to fish the remaining Open later this season. Check out his website and you’ll find a long list of tournaments fished last year and before. Top five finishes stand out.
“So far it’s been a good learning experience,” he said. “I hope to keep taking it to the next level.” The pros aren’t in danger yet of the next KVD wrecking havoc on the B.A.S.S. tour. That’s because Orellana, a teenager, is enrolled in high school.
“Sometimes the events have fallen within school holidays and other times we’ve had to arrange makeup days,” said Rick Orellana, his father. “He’s a good, solid ‘A’ student and takes a lot of honors classes. That’s one of the prerequisites we have for him in order to do this,” he added.
Rick works as a fabricator for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the heart of NASCAR country. Five years ago he moved the family from Charlotte to Lake Norman. Carson went fishing and hasn’t stopped. “Carson just took to fishing like any kid, but we quickly realized he had an extreme passion for it,” he said. “He would stay out on the dock for hours and hours.”
Carson, then 11, would become befriended by a growing list of mentors impressed with that passion for bass fishing. The first to step up was Rick’s co-worker Jason Shapiro, an avid tournament angler and JGR car chief for the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. He invited Carson to join him as a partner at charity bass tournaments in the area.
Shapiro’s network of fishing industry contacts quickly opened doors for the youngster. That led to Carson’s joining the Southfork Bassmasters’ junior club in 2010.
It proved to be the turning point in his very tentative timeline as a tournament angler. The club is North Carolina’s largest with 40 junior members. Last year he won angler of the year and state titles in his age division.
The next mentor to appear was Roy Sanford, a pro and full-time guide at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The connection occurred as Sanford was casting around the Orellana’s dock during practice for last year’s Open. “I went down to the dock and started chatting with him, told him about Carson, and he said he wanted to meet him,” recounted Rick.
Sanford invited Carson to join him during practice and a friendship began. Sanford, a crappie and bass guide, extended an invitation for Carson to travel to Texas. Last summer he spent several weeks as a deck hand on Sanford’s crappie boat. “I’ve been around this a long, long time,” said Sanford. “He’s hungry for advice, wants to learn. He’s got the potential to become a great pro someday.”
Last summer, Carson mowed lawns and saved up enough money to pay $5,000 for his first bass boat. His sponsor, BOE Marine, has wrapped the boat with his sponsor logos.
Will he be the next KVD? If you look at his track record so far, there’s a chance.