Since the age of 2, Hunter White has been working on his craft. On Aug. 10 of this year, he was in the boardroom of town hall being recognized by Mayor Mike Sobol.
White and his partner, Luke Farley, placed fourth in the inaugural B.A.S.S. National Championship at Carrol County Lake in Tennessee. The tournament featured 26 teams from around the country and one from Canada.
Sobol shook White’s hand as he presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his recent performance in the tournament.
“I didn’t even think the mayor would know about something like that,” White said. “It was great to be recognized like that.”
White earned a spot in the organization’s first national championship by finishing second in the state championship last year. He was paired with Farley, who finished first in the state tournament in October.
White was eager to prove himself on the national stage.
“We thought we would finish first in the tournament,” White said. “Normally it takes around 5 pounds to win a tournament like that, and we had close to 9. We get in there after the first day and we’re leading by 8 pounds, and they saved this one guy to weigh in last. He has one fish, and there are cameras around. He has one fish, and it’s 12 pounds, 14 ounces. It was a lake record.”
The spring and summer months are a particularly busy time of year for White, who has won the state championship in the junior division of The Bass Federation the last three years.
His streak was in jeopardy in June during this year’s championship at Lake Norman when he was without a bite for the first six hours on the water.
“I caught six fish that day, but I didn’t get a bite until 12 o’clock. I got that bite, and I set the hook, and it was a catfish, so I was mad,” he said. “I had broken my jaw the week before that, so we went under a bridge so I could rest a little. And I caught five fish there and won with those. They totaled 9 pounds.”
His performance at the state championship earned him a spot at the T.B.F. Junior World Championship in Hot Springs, Arkansas three weeks ago, where he finished third in the southern region.
This year has been even busier than most, as White began fishing in high school tournaments with T.B.F. as well.
“You have to have a high school-age partner when you’re in middle school, and you have to fish in five opens to qualify for the world championship,” White said. “It’s a little bit more competitive than juniors.”
The competitiveness at the high school level does not bother White, who said he goes into every tournament with the intention of winning. He and his partner appeared in three tournaments this year, in addition to the junior contests he entered.
“The mental part of the game is tougher,” White said. “But fishing with the high school kids helps me learn a lot more about what I need to do to continue to get better.”
White’s performance during his first summer on the water against older competition took him to Florence, Alabama where he and his high school partner, Carson Cochran, finished 28th out of 178 boats.
Balancing his studies at Owen Middle School and his fishing career involves careful consideration on White’s part. Since he began competitive fishing five years ago, White has maintained an average of As and Bs in his classes.
“Most of the fishing I do is in the spring and summer. So my teachers have been great,” he said. “They give me my work so I can do it while I’m out fishing, and when the fall and winter come, things kind of slow down.”