Shelby sets his sights on scholarship named for his late ‘uncle’
Of all the lofty goals a Louisiana high school bass angler has set for himself as a senior, there’s one that he covets.
Chance Shelby of Watson wants to earn a scholarship or two, naturally, but not just any old scholarship. Winning the Live Oak High School fishing team’s John Morgan Spring Scholarship would mean so much him, he said.
Spring, Shelby’s cousin — he called him “Uncle” — was critically injured in a boating accident on Labor Day 2014 when his boat’s steering cable broke. He died of his injuries a few days later at 52. The high school keeps the memory of Spring, a church-going family man and outdoorsman, alive with the scholarship.
“It’s just within our school fishing team, the little derbies. It’s on a point system, so I am trying to fish as many as I can. It would be an honor for me to win that,” Shelby said.
The son of Bill and Wendy Shelby, Chance Shelby and partner Tyler Jordan had a resounding win on Sept. 11 in the season’s first tournament, the 2021 West Division Team Trail opener at Toledo Bend. Their five-bass limit weighed 15.47 pounds, including a 6.49-pounder that was the biggest fish of the day.
Shelby and Jordan caught lightning in a bottle that afternoon. At 1 o’clock, they had a limit that might have weighed 10 pounds.
“The cool thing is, it only took us 45 minutes (to upgrade to their final weight). It just happened so quick, in a 30-yard stretch,” he said.
The rarified air of a first-place finish at Toledo Bend fizzled at the next stop, Oct. 2 on the Red River. Unable to prefish, Shelby and Jordan finished 47th with two bass weighing 3.24 pounds.
They are anxious to shake off that bump in the road.
“I think a lot of guys have tournaments like that,” he said. “You’ve just got to get back on your feet.”
Shelby, 18, has the experience to do just that. He learned from one of the best around as a freshman when his boat captain was rising pro fisherman Logan Latuso of Gonzales. They were both fishing “cookie jar” tournaments on Blind River when they met.
They started talking more and more during the season, Shelby said. He eventually asked Latuso, a Bassmaster veteran, to be his boat captain his first year on the Live Oak High School fishing team. Shelby had a Top-5 finish and a couple of Top-10s in 2018-19 and qualified for the first of his four state tournaments in the Louisiana High School Bass Nation.
Shelby, who qualified for nationals his sophomore and junior years, was one of six Louisiana anglers who attended the inaugural Bassmaster High School Combine in mid-October at Decatur, Ala.
Now he’s hoping to secure one more berth in the high school national tournament, oh, and become Angler of the Year.
Shelby and Jordan started teaming up as juniors in high school. The pairing has clicked for both, including the win this season and a fourth-place finish with 26.3 pounds in the two-day state tournament May 8-9 out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville.
“I fish pretty quick in the front of the boat,” Shelby said. “He fishes slow in the back. We both adapt really well once we figure out a pattern.”
Shelby’s strength is fishing a SPRO plastic frog. When he’s targeting bigger bass, he’ll punch a Missile Baits D-Bomb.
“But if I have to, I’ll go flip docks, flip a jig, unless we have four fish or three fish. I like to throw a trick worm,” he said. “I like to throw a Shaky Head, because if you fish slow, you can really out-finesse them with that. I’ve been throwing it a long time. I just got used to it. My dad taught me how to do it.”
Shelby was an eager student when his father started taking him bass fishing when he was around 5.
“I loved it. I still love it,” he said.
His favorite bass tournament memory is a father-son effort in a Jacob Dugas Memorial Bass Tournament. The Shelbys won with 18 pounds and had the big bass at 5.4.
He’s had a few contacts from college coaches and is hopeful, particularly after the combine in Alabama, of receiving a scholarship to fish in college.
“Honestly, after college, probably what I’m going to do is fish (Bassmaster) Opens and try to qualify for the Elites,” he said.
“And he’d like to take home that scholarship named for his “uncle.”