It’s rare for someone to step away from bass tournament fishing for two decades and then come back and quickly find success on a level as competitive as the Bassmaster Opens. Tyler Carriere of Youngsville, La., proved to be that rare individual when he qualified for the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series by finishing fourth in the 2016 Central Open Angler of the Year Standings.
While growing up in Lafayette, Carriere fished for bass with his father, Larry. He also fished tournaments in Louisiana and Texas with his high school buddies. After graduation, Carriere had support from sponsors and was on the road for three years living the life of a bass tournament gypsy.
“Back then there wasn’t a lot of money in bass tournaments,” Carriere said. “I got burned out when I was in my 20s and needed a break. That break turned out longer than I thought it was going to be.”
After acquiring an Aviation License and an A&P License to work on airplanes, Carriere took a job for a New Orleans based insurance company. For the next eight years he maintained the company’s fleet of three private planes. He fished for bass during that time but stopped competing in tournaments altogether.
Some of Carriere’s friends were saltwater charter fishermen out of Venice, La., who specialized in speckled trout and redfish. Carriere obtained a U.S. Coast Guard Six Pack License and began running charters part time whenever his friends needed an extra hand. He started charter fishing full-time two years after Hurricane Katrina.
He moved to Youngsville in 2012 where he now lives with wife Casey and his two sons, Carter, 7, and Liam, 19 months. Two years ago, Carriere turned 40 and got the bug to get back into tournament fishing. Perhaps it was something of a midlife crisis. There were still things he wanted to accomplish.
Carriere took a hiatus from charter fishing, equipped himself with a 20-foot Skeeter bass boat and signed on to fish all three Bassmaster Open divisions in 2015. He was able to take this “big step” thanks to the support of his nephew, actor R.J. Mitte, who played Walt Jr. on the enormously popular TV series Breaking Bad.
Mitte has also been a recurring character on the TV series Switched at Birth and was featured in the movie House of Last Things. Mitte has a mild case of Cerebral Palsy, which is not as severe as with the Walt Jr. character he played in Breaking Bad.
Carriere’s first season fishing the Opens was promising, but he fell far short of his goal of qualifying for the Elite Series.
“I was too nervous,” Carriere said. “It was a learning experience to leave my home state and fish against all those guys.”
The 2016 season was a breakthrough for Carrier. He was 40th in the Northern Open AOY standings after two events, but decided not to go to the final tournament on Lake Champlain so he could concentrate on the second Central Open at the Red River.
At the Red River, Carriere claimed 13th place. He missed the Top 12 cut by a mere 4 ounces, but did climb to seventh place in the Central AOY standings. At the final Central Open on the Atchafalaya Basin, Carriere nabbed 23rd place and jumped to number four in the AOY stands. He gladly accepted his invitation to fish the Elite Series but with reservations.
“Going from charter fishing to competing against Justin Lucas and those boys is intimidating,” Carrier said. “I’ve just got to remember that they’re normal people and to do my own thing.”
Carriere’s own thing is primarily shallow-water fishing, especially with a flippin’ rod. He is still trying to master today’s electronics and finesse tactics to improve his deep fishing. Carriere is also working to get sponsors so he can continue his dream of becoming an established Elite Series pro.
“I’m leaving it up to God,” Carriere said. “He knows how much I love this sport.”