Competition for the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail 2015 Angler Team of the Year (ATOY) is over. The award is given to the team that has accumulated the most points during competition on the tournament trail during the year.
Mike Vallentine, Crappie Masters president, describes the Angler Team of the Year Award as a great way to create some yearlong competitive spirit for the anglers that like to travel and fish. “Everyone wants to know, who’s the best,” says Vallentine.
The underlying importance of the award should not be missed according to Vallentine. “The award truly indicates who had the best year. You can’t win this honor by fishing the same lake and conditions all the time. You also have to fish different methods throughout the year. I love the format, because it reveals the best anglers by the end of the year.”
This year’s honors went to the Johnson Fishing team of Billy and Scott Williams following the final regular season event on Truman Lake. The father/son team from Cochran GA are long-time competitors on the trail. Team Williams will be officially recognized at the Crappie Masters Classic Awards Banquet coming up on Kentucky Lake in Paris Tennessee, September 23-26. They finished the completion with 1178 points.
Following close behind was the South Carolina team of Whitey Outlaw and Mike Parrott, last years ATOY winners. The B’n’M Poles team finished the season only one point out of the lead at 1177 points.
It was definitely a three-team race in this year’s competition. The Indiana team of Matt Morgan and Kent Watson were also in the race. By the end of the day on Truman Lake they finished the season with a total of 1175 points, just three points off the lead.
It was a day of anxiety for the Williams team. They were not fishing the event and had to wait for the results to see if the lead they had going in to the final day would hold. They were keeping an eye on social media hoping so see some results.
“At one point I texted Vallentine,” said Scott Williams. “The only response I got was that he was trying to figure it out and that Morgan and Watson were in the top 10. About 10 minutes later I got a call from another competitor, Tommy Skarlis.”
“If it were me I would want to know,” said Skarlis over the phone. “You got it. Congratulations.”
“I was really happy to win ATOY, but I think Daddy was happier. I called him and told him we had won it. He started laughing. You could tell he was really excited and he don’t get excited about much, but he was about this.”
When question on how he felt about the win, Billy Williams replied, “I’m proud of the accomplishment. To me winning the ATOY is a big deal, maybe even bigger than winning the classic. It shows who was the most consistent on every body we fished through out the year it’s very satisfying.”
Everyone new the ATOY would be determined at the final event on Truman Lake. “There were only a few points separating the top teams,” said Scott Williams. “Daddy and I were leading Whitey Outlaw and Mike Parrot by one point and Matt Morgan and Kent Watson by only a few. It is satisfying to win when you are fishing against great competitors like them. They had a great year too.”
Since we weren’t fishing the tournament I really expected Outlaw/Parrot or Morgan /Watson to step up and get it.”
“I am very pound of the ATOY honor because it measures consistency,” revealed Scott Williams. “To be consisted and stay up in the top five in a lot of tournaments on a lot of lakes is what it takes. I really want to win a Classic title because of its prestige, but that is just one tournament and with a little luck anybody can win.”
“We didn’t win a single tournament all year, but we placed second a couple times and consistently finished high. To me that’s where it’s at. You have to go out there and beat a lot of excellent anglers day in and day out. Daddy and I are very proud of the honor.”
Scott Williams told a little story that he considered a sign of what was to come.
“Probably the defining moment of ATOY actually happened at Grenada. It was the second day of the tournament. Daddy had caught a big fish and I netted it. As I netted his fish my pole went down. I grabbed it and it was a big fish. In the rush of things daddy grabbed his fish out of the net and threw it down on the deck. He didn’t know it at the time, but the hook and the line had gone all the way through his fish and the hook had stayed in the net.”
“Daddy grabbed the net to get my fish and it jerked daddy’s fish in the water, still with the line run through it. We didn’t know what was going on. So the line is still through daddy fish, the hook is in the net. This fish was like a 2.85, huge fish. I looked and I saw the line and said daddy get that fish. I had a big fish and we had a 2.85 back in the water. I grabbed the line on mine and set a 2.5-pound fish in the boat. Daddy grabbed the line on his and lifted a 2.85-pound fish into the boat.”
“We got both those fish in and I told daddy then, either we are going to win this tournament or we are going to place high enough to win Angler Team of the Year. We are going to do something. You could not have asked for a more desperate situation to be in and have it work out right. We were struggling.”
“We started out the last day on Grenada in about tenth place. I knew we had to improve if we were gong to continue in first place. Whitey and Mike were right up there. Matt and Kent were up there. It was very competitive. Those guys all had a great year too. It was a three-man race to the end and anyone could have won it.”
The next Crappie Masters event is the Classic. For more information on the National Championship visit the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters website.