Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

Two Salem fishermen came home from Lake Norfork sporting a new fishing boat and, maybe more importantly to them, bragging rights for winning the 36th Annual Basscat Boats Invitational Tournament May 4-6.While it wasn’t the first time Jeremy Stone and Ted Carter have won boats, this was the first time the duo won one fishing together. On top of the excitement of a tournament win by a local team, which is rare, the bait that hoisted their bag to the top was also made locally, at Rox Outfitters in Highland.

The men were teamed against many equally as experienced and eager fisherman within the 170 teams, that made up the six flights who took to the water at daylight May 5 and 6 at Henderson on Lake Norfork. The pair of longtime fisherman set out with a combination of hope and skill to see if they could bring home the biggest stringer of five fish each day. If not, they both agreed the event is always fun and has become one of their favorite that is put on by the Basscat family. Carter said the confidence of their impending win came early on, but Stone said you can never be sure “We were pretty sure, when we left at the takeoff at 7a.m. and by 8:45 a.m. had that 19 pounds. We left them and thought we would go back Saturday and catch us an-other good one or two. We caught them, but they weren’t the same size,” he explained. Stone said, “We did have a big lead and were confident, but it was a grind, We knew if we could get 30-31 pounds we thought we could win the tournament.” The men left no room for competition to get close. After the Friday weigh in, Team Stone and Carter boasted a massive 19.63 pound total. This was over five pounds more than the next highest day one weight. At the end of their second day, with a total of only 10.99 the first day luck and skill kept the men at the top with 30.62 pounds final weight. The second place team’s total was almost four pounds less than Stone and Carter’s total. Both men are no strangers to a rod and reel and have spent many years enjoying their deep rooted love of fishing and competing in tournaments. Both have won boats in the past the past, Stone and Carter are among only one other fishing team to have won the Basscat Invitational more than once in the event’s 36year history. The May 6win makes Carter and Stone a part of three teams who have taken Basscat Invitational wins. Ted said they look forward to this event, which is equivalent to the Bassmaster’s Nationals, each spring. They enjoy spending a week at the lake with their buddies. The pre-tournament week is undoubtedly utilized to get their minds on fishing and what better way than through the retelling of ever growing fish stories and perfecting their grilling and cooking skills? Carter has fished the Basscat Boats Invitational for 25-30 years. He explained anyone who owns a Basscat boat can compete in the annual tournament and it is one of the largest in the nation and area. Through the years of fishing the tournament, the men have met many who would become lifelong friends and acquaintances and created a family type environment at the event. With fishermen and women coming from as far away as Canada, Stone said the fun days leading up to the event allow them to relax and enjoy the tournament.“ Don’t get me wrong, we all want to win, but we really do have a goodtime,” he said of the camaraderie between himself and fellow fishermen. Carter also won the Basscat in 2019 when he was fishing with Daniel Busch. Bush has since passed along the Fulton County fishing bug to his daughter Madison, who competed in the High School Bassmaster and continues to compete in other tournaments with her dad. When Carter and Busch won the boat in2019, a football coach from Mayflower, Ark. bought the boat from them and they never even towed it home. Carter said this his fourth time in his amateur fishing career to win a boat, including first in 1995 when he won a Ranger boat. Unlike most fisher-man, Carter was happy to reveal his bait and tell a humorous story behind him obtaining it. He said he knew about the high end lures that are allegedly responsible for making the big bass get a hold. He laughed and said, “I told my wife if I had to pay that much for a fishing lure, I would never fish again.” His wife, Chassidy, bought him some for their anniversary, a few weeks before the tournament. Carter had nothing but good to say about the KR Custom Glide baits by Rox Outfitters. “I don’t know if its the lure or the paint Carter (Kaiser) puts on them things but that was what we caught our19.63 and 10.99 on,” he said Jeremy Stone is also an avid fishermen who has fished the Basscat Invitational for 15-20years. The event had became a huge family affair and something Stone has also loved and looked forward to. Initially he fished with his father, Terry. He and his father won the Basscat in 2005 together. After his father passed away in 2019, Jeremy said he really let it get him down and was out of his fishing groove for a few years until he started fishing with Carter. The groove eventually came back and the fun followed closely behind and hasn’t stopped yet, Saturday’s win was the first tournament win since Jeremy won with his dad in 2005. He is undoubtedly smiling down from a lake in heaven with pride for his son, The two won a 2023Bass Cat Bobcat. Both agreed it was a smaller boat than they are used to fishing in so plan to sell it and split the proceeds. The iron is al-ready in the fire for the sale as Carter said they were approached at the end of the tournament by a man from South Alabama who plans to buy the boat from them. Besides the fun and winning Carter said he is so happy to be a part of such a wonderful event this year. At the last weigh in, he was certain to give Carter Kaiser kudos in front of the crowd for his custom bait creations that he credits with helping with the win, and his wife for having the insight to spend a little more and get the top of the line bait for him. The men said they were both look forward to the tournament each year and how Basscat treats the fisherman and boat owners. This is the fourth tournament of the year for Stone and Carter.