With one national championship title under his belt, James Gibbons hopes to repeat the feat in 2018.
Representing South Florence High School, Gibbons and his partner Tommy Floyd Jr. won the 2017 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship at Kentucky Lake and Gibbons is trying to qualify for the championship again in his senior year. “That was my ultimate goal throughout high school,” Gibbons says of winning the national title.
Gibbons recalls fishing at the age of about 4 years old when his grandpa took him to farm ponds. He started competing in bass tournaments when he was about 12. “I used to fish in a little club with my Dad when we lived in Georgia,” he says.
His family moved to South Carolina when Gibbons started high school, but the school district he moved into didn’t have a bass team. So Gibbons decided to attend school out of the district at South Florence High because the school had a bass team.
In addition to winning the national championship, Gibbons and his partner have finished in the top five of the South Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation Lower State Division point standings and placed eighth in the point standings of the Palmetto Boat Center High School Tournament Trail for the 2016-17 season.
The 18-year-old Gibbons hopes to use high school bass fishing as a springboard to a career in fishing. “I love the whole tournament aspect and competing and learning,” he says. “I want it to be my way of life when I grow up too.”
Gibbons plans on fishing in college and majoring in marketing or business with possibly a minor in biology. Three colleges Gibbons is considering attending are Bethel University in Tennessee, Lander University in South Carolina and Murray State University in Kentucky. His Bassmaster national championship winnings included a scholarship to Bethel University.
The national champion says he plans on pursuing a career as a professional angler or “working for a bass fishing company” after college.