Benton teen JP Kimbrough pulled off a major accomplishment Sunday on Toledo Bend.
Kimbrough, 16, qualified for the state team as a boater in the Louisiana Bass Federation state qualifying tournament.
According to tournament officials, Kimbrough is the youngest angler in Louisiana history to make the team.
Kimbrough finished sixth out of approximately 25 anglers. The top six finishers made the team as boaters.
According to flwoutdoors.com, a “boater” is the equivalent of a professional angler. Boaters operate their own boats and fish in the Boater Division of professional events. Boaters are randomly paired in tournaments with amateur co-anglers who fish from the back deck of the boater’s boat.
“It still really hasn’t set in that I made it,” said Kimbrough, a junior at Benton High. “I knew I had a a good shot at making the top 12. Making it as a boater is a big accomplishment for me.”
Kimbrough caught 16.52 pounds of bass in the two-day event.
He said a fish he caught in the final 10 minutes of the competition put him in the top six.
“I knew if I was going to make it I needed at least one more fish,” he said. “If I hadn’t caught that fish I wouldn’t have qualified as a boater. I think it was kind of a never-give-up moment.”
As a member of the state team, Kimbrough qualified to fish in the Divisional Championship Series Tournament. He said the lake for that hasn’t been announced yet but it will be in Texas next year.
The tournament is just a step in the process of becoming a professional angler. The Divisional Championship Series Tournament serves as a qualifier for the TBF Federation National Championship. The winner of that tournament gets a spot on the FLW Tour as a tour pro as well as a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup Championship.
“I have a friend who is an Elite Series pro,” Kimbrough said. “It’s his second year on the tour and he won an Elite Series tournament this year. He qualified as a Federation angler. I wanted to try to qualify if I could and I thought the best way I could qualify would be through the Federation. If you look at many of the top pros who came up through the Federation, they’re really, really good.”
Even at 16, Kimbrough already has sponsors. Among them are Hydrowave, Amphibia and Rod Sox.
“I’d like to thank my family, friends and sponsors who supported me through all this,” he said.