Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Billy Shelton from Lacrosse, VA. Billy qualified for the Rayovac series championship this year on Wheeler Lake, AL. Billy is a fellow competitor, a friend, and most of all a great person. Billy works at tournament angling as hard as a person can, while juggling his own business, being a father, as well as a fiancé. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this accomplishment, a real blue collar person dedicated to his family, his business, and his passion for tournament angling. Billy will be competing against 200 other competitors for a chance at a huge payday and a new boat. But most importantly he will be competing for the title of Rayovac Series 2014 Champion. As we talked, I had the chance to really pick his brain about this past season, this up and coming championship, and what his fishing future my hold. Here is what I found out.
How did it all come together this season?
“I had a good Tournament year!” said Billy. I would have to say that’s an understatement, to have 3 top 20 finishes in a row and finish 2nd in the Angler of the Year standings, is more than a good year. He said he was pretty familiar with all 3 bodies of water on the schedule, and had some good history at all the venues. But probably his most important trait was his good decisions on the water during the event. Grinding it out every day and to stick with your plan no matter what everyone else is doing. Staying cool was essential for his success, knowing that his mental toughness played a huge roll.
Was there a defining moment that kind of sums up the year?
Billy said after the second day on the James River in the last event of the year, that was the defining moment of the season. “I knew I was fishing the last day and had a real shot at Angler of the year, that’s when all of my hard work paid off.” He then relaxed to cruise to a top 4 finished and pocket a big check for the event.
What was your favorite body of water that you fished in the Rayovac Events this season?
Lake Champlain, in upstate New York, was his favorite venue this past season, which is no surprise. A huge body of water that separates New York, Vermont, and Canada. It’s loaded with both largemouth and smallmouth bass and is just a fun place to fish with some beautiful scenery. “On the first day of the tournament I probably caught 80 fish off of one spot!” said Billy. That not even counting what his coangler caught or the other competitors around him. Champlain has to be one of the greatest bass lakes in the country, and anyone that fishes it becomes addicted.
What does your practice schedule look like for the championship?
Billy will only have 4 days of practice, and there is a 2 week off limits period prior to that. He says his preparation started the minute he qualified. Talking with people who are familiar with the lake, looking at past events, and map study began immediately. “There is a bunch that goes into long before you arrive at the body of water”, he said. You can’t let others get a jump and you need to be fully prepared for any event.
Do you have high expectations for the event?
As with every event Billy has the highest expectations. Every tournament angler fishes to win and that is the mindset needed to compete at this level. “I fish to win”, said Billy. He feels he has to maintain the edge that got him this far and expects to do well.
What are your plans for 2015? FLW Tour?
Billy has no set plans for next season but aspires to compete on the FLW Tour next season, if possible. He has earned the right to fish at the highest level next season, but is not sure about the financial backing. He is a priority angler, which gives him first shot at entering the FLW Tour for 2015 because of his high finish in Angler of the Year in the Rayovac Series. Although at $4,000 per event in entry fees and countless miles traveling back and forth from each venue, you have to have some help. You also need a good plan just to make it there, fish, get back, and run a business at the same time. He said he has some big decisions to make for next year, but he also believes that everything happens for a reason. “If it’s meant to happen, it will work out.” I hope it does find a way.
Billy wanted to thank his fiancé Angela and his son Riley for all of their much needed support this year and all the time. He told me they were his world and are number 1 in his life. He also wanted to thank a couple of sponsors that have helped him as well, Angler’s Choice Marine in Martinsville, VA and Mercury Outboards.