When Tyler Carriere returned to tournament fishing after a lengthy hiatus, he discovered there was a definite learning curve. Heading into his third year on the Bassmaster Elite Series, he hopes he’s got everything straightened out.
“You’ve got to be versatile,” he said. “You can’t just be stuck in your one way of fishing, like shallow, Louisiana-style fishing. I had to get experience fishing in all these different bodies of water.
“At home, all our water is stained. You go up north, it’s clear and you have to learn that. You’ve got to be able to fish with electronics in clear water, 30 or 40 feet down.”
It’s rather odd, but Carriere said he now prefers fishing up north.
“To be honest, I’d much rather fish the clear water than the water at home,” he said. “I just spent so much time trying to do it and learning. I’d much rather fish smallmouth than largemouth.
“It seems like I’ve struggled with largemouth the last couple years. I don’t know why. But the smallmouth, I always seem to catch them. I guess I’ve figured them out a little bit.”
Learning and using all the new electronics correctly also took some time for the 44-year-old from Youngsville, La., who had been out of the game for almost 20 years. He had gotten burned out on fishing and went to working on planes.
“I worked for Gray Insurance Company on private jets, but I could basically take my license and work for anyone, like Southwest,” he said, noting the electronics on planes are far more complicated than on boats. “It’s the wiring. That’s brutal. If something breaks, you’ve got to try to track it down. There are miles and miles of wiring.”
During his leave, Carriere also obtained his six-pack captain’s license and ran saltwater charters part time. He scratched a fishing itch while helping some friends out, but the bass kept calling. When he decided to take the plunge, he said getting back in the game wasn’t so simple. He began by fishing the Bassmaster Opens in 2015, and it took a while to get his sea legs.
“The first year of the Opens was a train wreck,” he said. “The first year of the Elites was, too.”
Carriere signed up for all the Opens in 2015 but went 0 for 8. He didn’t cash a check until his third event of 2016, but he had gained experience and some momentum.
“I entered all three division of the Opens, but it was the learning curve, the electronics,” he said. “It just took some time to get into the swing of things, try to figure out all the electronics and build back up.”
He found his groove for the Central Opens, including two events close to home, and finished fourth in the point standings to earn an Elite invitation. Carriere, helped by backing from his nephew, R.J. Mitte of Breaking Bad fame, took the plunge to the Elites.
Like he mentioned, competing on the top circuit required more adjustments, and he didn’t make them fast enough that first season, in which he only cashed in one event.
“The first year of the Elites, I just hunkered down too much in one area and tried to fish, fish, fish,” he said. “It wouldn’t work, and I would just try to make it work. You can’t force the fish.”
That was lesson one, and he used it to earn his first check on the delayed Sabine River event not far from home. Carriere finished 35th there and said he might have learned something big from a key move around midday.
“At 11:30, I ran 30 miles up the river to a couple cypress trees I had,” he said. “I caught a 3-pounder and that’s what made the cut.
“Your decision making is a big part of it. I can remember a couple times where I just scratched it all at the last minute and went and did something else and caught fish. You’ve got to be able to scratch stuff and move on.”
Several events later, he scored a 16th on the St. Lawrence. This came after finishing near the back of the pack there in 2017.
“The first year, I just couldn’t catch them – the second day I figured something out,” he said. “Last year, I had pretty good results doing what I’m doing.”
In posting his best Elite finish, Carriere said he had to figure out how the fish had changed. On Day 1, he caught fish everywhere and eclipsed 20 pounds by 9:30 a.m., like most everybody else.
“The next day, I couldn’t get bit on those same places,” he said. “I had to make adjustments. The fish moved from the offshore stuff to a little bit closer in, tighter to the current breaks. You’ve just got to make adjustments as you go every day.”
Experience on the various fisheries as well as not being afraid to scrap a plan are lessons Carriere takes into this season. Fisheries he’s really looking forward to are the season opener on the St. Johns, Texas Fest on famed Lake Fork and going back to New York.
“I really like Lake Fork. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been there, but it’s going to be some tough fishing,” he said. “I think it’s going to be tough just because the fish are just educated. And I am definitely looking forward to the St. Lawrence this year.”