Gorham High junior Bode Meader casts a lure from the bow of his bass boat on Little Sebago Lake in Windham. Meader was a starter on Gorham’s varsity basketball team as a sophomore, but he may be even better as a bass fisherman. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

WINDHAM —It’s no surprise that slender 6-foot-2 Bode Meader, a 17-year-old junior at Gorham High, has already played two seasons of varsity basketball. Grandfather Dick Meader is about to begin his 27th season as the University of Maine-Farmington head coach after 17 seasons at Thomas College. Dad Daren Meader scored 1,819 points at UMF.

But it’s his mother Jenny’s family that fostered Bode Meader’s other great sporting passion: competitive bass fishing. Now a multi-year member of the Maine B.A.S.S Nation organization, he’s competed in national junior tournaments and earlier this month was the youngest member on the Maine B.A.S.S. team that hosted the Eastern Sectionals.

Being on the water for nine-hour tournament days is a regular weekend activity for Meader, who purchased a 18-foot bass boat after a summer of working at a local grocery store. “I bought the boat before I had a car,” he said.

Q: How did you get started fishing?

A: It started way back when. My grandparents have a camp on Pine River Pond (in Wakefield, New Hampshire) and I did a lot of fishing there with my grandfather (Terry Stump) and my godfather, Erik Dillenger. He’s really the one who got me into it.

Q: Do you recall how old you were when you first entered a competition?

A: I was 12 when I first entered a Maine B.A.S.S. junior club tournament. In Panther Pond (in Raymond).

Q: What is fun about it for you?

A: I mean winning. It’s that competitive side of me. Going out there and catching your biggest five and weighing them and coming out on top.

Q: What was your biggest win, or accomplishment?

A: Probably the state tournament (in 2018), making the state team to go to the Eastern Regional. I came in third and they took the top 12.

Q: So you would have been 16 when you did that. How old was the next youngest angler?

A: Probably 30s. Late 30s or 40s.

Q: Do the two passions of basketball and bass fishing collide or get in the way?

A: In the springtime, yeah, when I have AAU (basketball) but mainly in the high school season it doesn’t because it’s in the winter and I can’t fish then anyway.

Q: Do you see fishing as anything more than a favorite pastime?

A: Yeah, I’d like it to be something I do when I get older and travel all over the country fishing. That would be fun.

Q: What separates someone who’s on the pro bass tour from the guy who does it regionally?

A: Qualifying. That’s what it is. You’ve got to get up in the ranks. So, when I fished the Eastern divisional, the next one up was the national tournament, and the top placement in that actually made it to the Bassmaster Classic. That’s the way to get in. Then you’ve got to prove yourself.

Q: Where have you progressed as an angler? What do you do better now than you did two years ago?

A: Definitely fishing deep. I’ve gotten better fishing (in deeper water). I’ve gotten more accepting to it. As a kid, it was boring. You’ve got to sit in 20 feet of water and it’s slow. You get five bites a day. But they’re five big bites and you learn to accept it.

Q: I saw you demonstrate today that you’re very adept at casting into tight spaces. How do you practice that?

A: You’ve got to get on the water and you’ve got to do it. A lot of casting.

Q: Is there any crossover between basketball and bass fishing?

A: I guess keeping your head in it. In basketball, if your head gets out of it, you’re going to start missing shots and you’re not going to score. And in fishing, if your head gets out of it, you’re going to start fishing faster when that’s the time that you really need to slow down.

Q: What is the biggest bass you’ve every caught?

A: Six (pounds), seven (ounces). It was on a tournament on Little Sebago. Probably 22, 23 inches long.

Q: That would have been a largemouth, what about a smallmouth?

A: 5-1. I got that on Sebec Lake in the Dover-Foxcroft area. That was at our camp.

Q: What’s the technique for a tournament when you’ve never fished the lake before?

A: That’s what it was this past week at Umbagog (Lake). I’d never fished the lake before. We started shallow and I couldn’t find much, so we moved out and fished some grass and I got my five fish. From there I just started upgrading and then by the end of the day, with about an hour left, I found a bunch of fish (by) logs. It was just that process of crossing out what wasn’t working and trying to figure out what I hadn’t fished and I finally found some fish on logs and that’s what got me to fourth place.

Q: Most people don’t think of fishing as strenuous. But what’s a nine-hour tournament day like?

A: It’s like a day at work. Your shoulders are sore. Your knees are sore. And you get home and you just want to go to bed.

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