Not many young Maine fishermen qualify for national bass tournaments around the country.
Nick Deering, 17, of Portland has been to five national junior championships run by FLW Outdoors since he started competing in bass tournaments at age 5.
He won his first world championship last weekend on DeGray Lake in Arkadelphia, Ark., taking home a $3,000 scholarship and a $1,000 Berkley lure sponsorship.
Anyone who knows anything about bass fishing would think Nick Deering was from the South.
“Lots of people down South, they don’t like to see the Northern guys get it. So it was like an upset, and shows that Maine can compete with the best,” Deering’s father, Louis, said proudly.
Certainly, Maine has its share of bass fishing tournaments, but the home waters of bass fishing are in the South and out West, places Deering doesn’t spend his time.
But after four previous trips to the national championship tournaments in Alabama, Georgia, New York and Canada, Deering said he learned how to figure out unfamiliar waters quickly.
On Aug. 12, he advanced to the world championship the next day where he won the world junior title by catching his limit of five fish which weighed in at 12 pounds, 4 ounces, a good 4 pounds ahead of the runner-up. And he caught fish in the rain.
Deering, who plans to get his Registered Maine Guides license this winter and guide next summer, said time on the water and thinking about the environment are what guides him. He considers the terrain, the climate, fish habits, seasonal patterns and water clarity.
“I take everything I learn and the night before, I run everything through my head. How does the lake relate to past lakes I’ve fished? There are so many things to figure out. You kind of have five hours to figure it out (the first day),” Deering said.
His home water is Little Sebago, but the Portland High senior spends summer weekends fishing across the state with his father. Louis Deering started a guide business eight years ago to support the travel he and his son do to bass tournaments.
However, now the fishing tips come from his son.
“I’ve brought him to five world championships. He’s learned a lot from me but he’s at the point, I’m learning stuff from him,” Louis Deering said. “When he goes to the world tournament, he gets to fish with professional anglers.”
The FLW Outdoors bass tournament is sponsored by the National Guard. Deering qualified for it at a state tournament each of the past five years. He won this year’s Maine title in June on Messalonskee Lake.
And in Arkansas last weekend, he qualified for the finals on the first day. Then on the second day in the rain he beat out 40 fishermen ages 15 to 18 to win it.
The science of fishing and being able to catch fish under pressure is a passion Deering hopes leads him to a college club team, where competition is as intense as in NCAA Division I sports. It could mean a — but also would mean going to school outside of New England. Deering can’t wait for the opportunity.
“It’s my favorite thing to do. I’d rather be on the water than doing anything. It’s my go-to thing. Whenever I’m having a bad day, that’s what I do,” Deering said.
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: