Back Story: Law books aside, Jake Gipson’s mind is still on fishing

Day-two leader Jake Gipson of the University of Florida spends a few quiet moments reflecting on the day ahead.

The typical tournament angler is somebody who relishes bass fishing and competition. Beyond that, there's not much to stereotype. He or she might be rich or middle-class, a bricklayer or a doctor, an intellectual or somebody who relies on "walking-around sense" as a guide through life. Scan a long weigh-in line and you'll see fishermen of varied backgrounds, whose feet have trod different paths to get there. Which brings us to Jake Gipson. When we last saw him, he was hoisting the FLW National College Fishing Championship Trophy above his head. That's not quite accurate; since 2010, when the former University of Florida angler and his co-angler teammate Matt Wercinski won the team title for the second consecutive year, Gipson has fished a couple of Walmart FLW Tour events as a co-angler and a Rayovac tournament as pro. He's also won a few bucks along the way. What we most remember about him, however, is what he did as a collegian. Memory fuses both championships - one coming at Ft. Loudoun Lake in 2009 and the other at Kentucky Lake in 2010 - into a single snapshot of triumph that likely will be forever unique. A college team that wins a championship is very good; a team that does it twice in a row sets itself apart as something special. Gipson and Wercinski reached the 2009 National Championship by first winning the Southeast Regional Championship over runners-up Dennis Parker and Shaye Baker of Auburn, and third-place finishers Richard Peek and Caleb Rogers, another of the storied Auburn teams. The following year, the Gators overcame Thomas Frink and Jake Akin of Kennesaw State, and Baker and Jordan Lee of Auburn, to win their second regional. Then they captured their second national championship, and in the process established themselves as nose-to-the-grindstone kinds of guys who could always be counted on to apply their best effort when it counted the most. Jake Gipson shines again with another 6-pounder."Going to school, fishing competitively and taking part in the national championship process those years involved a lot of pressure, but in the long run it really helped Matt and me in the next stages of our lives," notes Gipson. "The competition was really good and we had stay on our game. Once we won that first championship and qualified to fish the next one, we had a big bull's-eye on our backs. A lot of people expected us to do well, including us. We couldn't let the pressure get to us. We had to compartmentalize the different things in our lives and not let things overlap to the point where we couldn't reach the different goals we had set for ourselves." These days, the 26-year-old Gipson is still setting goals. He's also still going to school, though now at the University of Alabama, where he is in his last semester of studies. After graduating summa cum laude from Florida with a degree in industrial and systems engineering, the Niceville, Fla., native made the most of a full scholarship to the University of Alabama Law School. He'll graduate this spring with honors, including membership in the Order of the Coif, a national law school scholastic society reserved for the best and the brightest. Then it's off to Birmingham and a year clerking for a federal judge. After that, Gipson will join a law firm where he hopes to specialize in intellectual property litigation - patents, trademarks, copyrights and that sort of thing. Jake Gipson and Matt Wercinski spend some time in the hot seat before being named national champions in 2010.He's got the world by the tail on a downhill drag ... and yet ... those old longings for tournament fishing keep stirring, the what-ifs, the struggle to balance what a man loves with what he needs, and to decide whether they're even compatible. Gipson faced the same sort of conundrum after he graduated from the University of Florida. Having won $357,500 for the university's bass club in two years of fishing with Wercinski, Gipson was tempted mightily to leapfrog from the college ranks into the major leagues, as some of his former competitors did. He was able to defer the law school scholarship, and fished the Rayovac FLW Series instead. Ultimately, family members and friends convinced him to take advantage of his educational opportunities first. Gipson is still unsettled, though. Tournament fishing still tugs at him. He's signed to fish the six Walmart FLW Tour events this year as a co-angler, beginning with Lake Okeechobee. And one of his professional ambitions is to practice law in Huntsville, which is at the hub of some of the most important tournament waters in the country. Jake Gipson shows off his catch."The way things are for me now, fishing as a pro is something that's going to have to wait," says Gipson. "It's a huge commitment of time and money, and - just coming out of law school - I won't be able to. Down the road, maybe, if I'm more the master of my schedule and perhaps have my own practice. I might have more time to fish then. At least I would like to give it a crack." That's all left for the future to sort out, or perhaps not. All we know with any degree of certainty is that on whatever path Jake Gipson sets foot, he'll wind up at the top of the class.

Tags: blog  colin-moore 

/news/2015-03-23-what-went-down-at-kentucky-lake

What Went Down at Kentucky Lake

Save for the contrarian crankbaits used by the eventual winning team from the University of Arkansas-Fayettville, it seemed that the vast majority of teams in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake relied on umbrella rigs. Here’s a rundown on what the top 10 used to catch most of their bass. Each of these teams is now pre-qualified for the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-top-patterns-from-kentucky-lake-

Top Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Thanks to nearly identical bags from days one and two, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville netted the title in the FLW College Fishing Open held on Kentucky Lake. While the top prize of a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard was at stake, teams were also battling to make the top 10 in order to punch their ticket for the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-21-college-open-day-2-midday-update

College Open Day 2 Midday Update

The sun is shining, the weather is warmer and the bass aren’t biting, at least not for most of the first-round leaders here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open. As the second and final day of competition unfolds, the leaders are struggling to maintain their positions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-college-open-day-1-midday-update

College Open Day 1 Midday Update

“You should have been here yesterday” might have been the motto for the first day of fishing in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. Though many of the 194 teams entered in the two-day event out of Moor’s Resort & Marina reported good to excellent practices, many of the same anglers were complaining about a lack of fish on opening morning of the competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-record-catch-for-record-college-field-

Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-18-college-open-will-be-a-record-setter

College Open will be a Record-Setter

When the first FLW College Fishing Open tournament gets underway out of Moor’s Resort on Kentucky Lake Friday morning, it will make history as the largest college event ever staged. Typically, college tournaments are staged as divisional events where only teams from a particular geographical region can participate, but the Open marks the first time any eligible college team can compete. The response to the new format has been overwhelming. According to FLW College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, 184 teams representing colleges and universities from coast to coast are entered (as of this morning), and more might be en route. Teams have until Thursday evening at 6 to register at the rules meeting. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-expect-change-and-adapt-to-it

Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-tour-newcomers-andrew-young

Tour Newcomers: Andrew Young

If you look at Young’s track record in the Angler Profiles of FLWFishing.com, there’s not much there. The only FLW tournament he’s fished is the Tour opener on Lake Toho, where he finished 102nd. Prior to that, Young hadn’t fished so much as a Walmart Bass Fishing League event, but that doesn’t mean he lacks talent or savvy. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-11-lake-toho-storylines

Lake Toho Storylines

The Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury on Lake Toho provided the 20th-anniversary season a proper sendoff. It was emblematic of the seasons that came before and had all of the hallmarks that FLW fishing fans have come to expect. A couple of strong 11th-hour charges for the title, environmental challenges in the form of dramatic weather and water changes, and a nail-biting finish were befitting of two decades of the Tour. We wanted to break down a few of the more subtle storylines as well, in order to put this season’s opener into perspective. Here goes. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-a-morning-with-the-leader

A Morning with the Leader

Sullen gray skies and a gusting northeast wind contrast with the weather on opening day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury here on Lake Toho. JT Kenney jumped out to the lead with a solid stringer of almost 30 pounds on Thursday, but Saturday is altogether different, and expectations match the weather. No pattern is weatherproof, including Kenney’s, but at least he knows that neither is anyone else’s. The brisk northeast wind is scooting his boat along at a fairly fast clip, and he’s fishing a spinnerbait that helicopters with every cast. To this point, the spinnerbait hasn’t attracted more than a small pickerel and two small bass in the first hour of the semi-final round. Still, the veteran pro has been here before, and knows what a change of weather will do to Florida bass. Gradually, the wind will lay and the day will grow warmer. Kenney is saving his better spots for then. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-randles-takes-co-angler-crown

Randles Takes Co-angler Crown

The whole premise behind being a successful co-angler is to fish the spots that the guy in the front of the boat hasn’t already hit. Here on Lake Toho and connected lakes – with their miles of lily pad fields and vast mats of various types of aquatic vegetation – finding such targets of opportunity is never a problem, though some co-anglers are better than others at mining the ones that actually have bass in them. Chad Randles of Elkhorn, Neb., proved he had what it takes to pry bass out of their Toho cubby holes as he won the co-angler title here in the Walmart FLW Tour season-opener presented by Mercury. Randles weighed in a pair of limits over two days that totaled 29 pounds, 15 ounces. Mark Holman of Cornelius, N.C., was second with 27-11, while John Hunter of Shelbyville, Ky., placed third with 27-7. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-boom-or-bust-at-toho

Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-25-tour-newcomers-capt-blake-smith

Tour Newcomers: Capt. Blake Smith

Capt. Blake Smith, who’s signed on to fish the Walmart FLW Tour this year, will tell you that he’s a “true rookie” when it comes to big-time bass tournaments, which is true. However, he’s no newcomer to competitive fishing. READ MORE »