FLORENCE, Ala. — Even at younger ages, Colby Carrier and Zach Morris routinely put longtime fishing veterans to shame.

Bass fishing partners since before they were in high school, the two had one of their best moments on the water in last year’s Maine Special Olympics Bass Tournament. The two high-schoolers — Carrier, 18, at Skowhegan and Morris, 17, at Freeport — boated fish after fish as opposing teams looked on, stunned at what they were seeing.

“It was a pretty amazing thing to watch,” Zach’s father, Heath Morris, said of the tournament on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Winthrop. “They took first place of around 75 teams in that tournament. They really put the smackdown on everybody.”

The duo’s win in that tournament — the largest in the state of Maine — was one of their many countless victories together in thousands of hours spent on the water. Now, their fishing prowess has brought them across the country, where they’re competing in one of their biggest events nationwide.

Carrier and Morris are in Florence, Alabama, for The Bass Federation’s high school national championships. The event, held on adjacent Pickwick and Wilson lakes, pits the two Mainers against the best of the best in their age group from all across the United States, as well the world.

“We’ve been excited about this for a while,” said Carrier, a recent Skowhegan Area High School graduate. “We know it’s going to be a pretty big challenge, but we’ve been planning and doing our research to identify what the elite fishermen there do.”


Carrier, of Skowhegan, and Morris, from Durham, have known each other since their days together in the same fishing club in elementary school. As sons of avid fishermen — Heath Morris is the former president of the Maine B.A.S.S. Federation — it had been easy for both boys to get into the sport, and the two quickly became top anglers.

Five years ago, though, the two went from competitors to teammates when both happened to be in search of new fishing partners at the same time. They began winning tournaments, from youth and high school competitions to contests against the state’s most experienced veterans.

Bass fisherman Colby Carrier, center, grabs rain gear as he and Zachary Morris, 17, left, prepare a bass fishing boat on June 12 at the Carriers’ home in Skowhegan. Morris and Carrier are representing Maine in the 13th annual high school fishing world finals and national championship this weekend in Florence, Alabama.

“I’d been looking for a partner for a couple years, and I knew him and knew his father, so we became partners,” said Carrier, who qualified with his partner by placing first in a seven-team tournament at Crescent Lake in Casco. “We’ve both done really well together and learned a lot from each other. We make a pretty good team.”

With both Carrier and Morris having boats, there’s no Maine body of water with bass that’s unreachable to the duo. The two will travel anywhere, from the Grand Lake Stream region in Washington County to the closer Belgrade Lakes region.

Although more so known for its trout, salmon and togue fisheries, Maine is home to largemouth and smallmouth bass in lakes and rivers. Both species are present in Pickwick and Wilson lakes, though the two are famous for their trophy smallmouth fisheries.

“It’s a little less about fishing the cover and a lot more about school-fishing and ledge-fishing,” Carrier said. “You try to go and find a school of bass and see what they’re doing. It’s a little different than what we’re used to, but I’ve fished the lake below it at another tournament, so I’m not totally unfamiliar with it.”


Carrier and Morris have spent hours each week on the water in the buildup to the tournament. In the summer, when Carrier isn’t working, he usually takes his boat from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Morris is also fishing just about every day.

“I used to go out with my dad, but I always wanted to have my own boat one day,” said Morris, who just finished his junior year. “I finally bought myself one when I was 14, and now that I have my own, I’m out on the water all the time.”

Zachary Morris, 17, left, carries fishing rods to Colby Carrier, 18, who is loading them into a bass fishing boat on June 12 in Skowhegan. The teens were preparing the boat for the 13th annual high school fishing world finals and national championship this weekend in Florence, Alabama. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The tournament began Wednesday morning and is set to run through Saturday. Cuts will be made after the first two days with the teams with the biggest three-fish bags advancing. Carrier and Morris, though, left Maine for Alabama a week ago to get a few practice days in before the tournament opener.

“We’ve had to get used to it because it’s a lot tougher to get a bite down here than it is back in Maine,” said Morris, who is using a friend’s 2021 Triton boat for the tournament. “They give you two or three practice days, so we wanted to take advantage of that.”

Although no cash will be awarded to the winning teams, hundreds of thousands in scholarship money will be on the line. That’s something both boys are certainly in need of with Carrier having just graduated from high school and Morris only a year away from doing the same.

With Carrier set to attend Bethel University in Tennessee on a fishing scholarship this fall, it could be one of the duo’s last chances to fish together for a while. It’s also an opportunity to show the entire country what two Mainers can do.

“I’d love it if we could get some 5-pounders,” Carrier said. “We’ve done a lot of practicing to get ready for this, so hopefully, the conditions are good. I think we’ll do fine.”

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