It's a 27-hour drive from Las Vegas to Dayton, Tenn. and the shorelines of Lake Chickamauga. And when Sin City Bass Club anglers Carter Doren and Ryan Lachniet arrived for the first day of practice for the 2021 Mossy Oak Fishing High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, they arrived in an environment that looks much different than their Nevada home.
“Where we are from you can see 40 feet down and we fish mostly for smallmouth,” Doran said. “We have a couple of largemouth lakes, but out here you can fish deep, you can fish ledges, you can fish shallow, you can fish grass. You can basically pick whatever you want to do, which you can’t really do back home. So I like coming out here, it’s a fun experience.”
The duo is making the most of their journey across the country, landing three bass for 15 pounds, 1 ounce on Day 1 to land in second place.
Add it to the list of accomplishments that Doran, a 2021 Bassmaster High School All-American, has already accumulated, including a BBZ JC National Championship victory, the 2020 Co-Angler of the Year for the Nevada Bass Anglers, an adult fishing club and a scholarship to Bethel University.
After one day of competition, Doran had the best day among the 2021 All-Americans in the field, with Alexis Grandstaff, Turner Hart, Tyson Verkaik, Cole Moulton, Hunter Keller and 2020 National Champion Hayden Marbut also competing this week.
The Sin City duo overcame a slow start in the morning to land a 5-pounder and a 7-pounder off of some deeper brush piles that lifted them to second. Had they landed a 5-pounder they saw eat their bait on the forward-facing sonar, they would have leapfrogged into the top spot.
“We caught the big one and our confidence went up; we got in a groove and started catching them,” Doren said. “On our forward-facing sonar, we watched a 5-pounder eat (the bait) and we whiffed on it.”
While the landscapes between Nevada and Tennessee are vastly different, the Doran and Lachniet have utilized some of the same techniques from their home lakes on Lake Chickamauga this week.
“It’s so clear at home you have to throw little baits and use really light line,” Doran said. “We crank a lot back home and we’ve been doing that here. We’ve been throwing drop shots and finesse baits as well.”
Lachniet said he also has a lot of experience on the James River in Virginia, which has helped him dial in the bass this week.
“It’s similar to that. It’s the same Florida Strain bass,” he said. “I’ve caught a lot of Florida strain in the hydrilla there and I’ve been able to put it together from that.”
Make sure you tune into Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the 2021 Mossy Oak Fishing High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. Day 2 weigh-in will begin at 2:45 p.m. ET.