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Published: May 2, 2013

Velvick Preps for First Sudden Death Appearance

by Lynn Burkhead

SUDDEN DEATH Day 2 Competitors

Kevin VanDam

Alton Jones

Kelly Jordon

Skeet Reese

Randy Howell

Byron Velvick

DENTON, Texas – Byron Velvick almost always has a big smile on his face.

But on the morning of Sudden Death Day Two of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, as the wind whispered over the shores of Grapevine Lake, that smile beamed as big as the Lone Star State of Texas is wide.

Why? Because Velvick was moving about his boat, getting ready to fish his first ever Sudden Death Round, which is race to be one of the first three anglers to reach a qualifying weight. The qualifying weight for this event was set for 20 pounds.

With the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup competition moving to a new water body for the Sudden Death Round, Velvick was pumped up about the opportunity.

"Yeah, this is a new one for me, I'm excited about it," said Velvick. "I've heard all about the sudden death rounds from the guys who have made it and they've told me that it's a whole different creature.

"They say it's a crazy race from the start, that this is really a sprint to the finish (line) on this one.

"This isn't the three-fourths marathon that the first round was."

In Velvick's case, the Elimination Round on Ray Roberts Lake was indeed a marathon as he caught a fish in the waning moments of the round to make the cut, survive to fish another day, and move a step closer to the Shell Rotella Challenge Cup win.

He admitted that the first round was particularly grueling, despite a solid start by most of the field that morning.

But as the wind went light and variable, and as the sun rose higher in the second and third period, the fish catching during Velvick's first round became harder and harder as the day went along.

That led to the frantic finish that Velvick barely survived on Ray Bob.

For this round, he's hoping that Grapevine turns on, breaks out of the fall funk gripping a number of Texas waters, and gives the MLF pros more of a lights-out kind of fish catching day.

"There must be some fish in here," said Velvick. "They just told us that the cut-weight is 20 pounds, so there must be some fish in here."

With this being his first Sudden Death Round, does television's former “Bachelor” feel any disadvantage?

"No, I've made some poor decisions (in past events that have kept me out)," said Velvick. "I've had some close calls in making a semi-final before, but I didn't really know how to do it."

After a series of good decisions on Ray Roberts and surviving a pressure-cooker kind of third period, now he does.

"It's really just making good decisions," said Velvick. "This is an interesting lake with a lot of interesting stuff going on."

Velvick's voice trailed away as he scanned his boat's electronics for the first time.

"I'm looking at the map right now, boy you hope you really make the right decision early in the morning."

Which led to the follow-up question: "What are you looking for?"

"I'm kind of looking for things that are somewhat similar to what I fished at Ray Roberts," said Velvick, a Livingston Lures pro-staffer. "There was a key little thing that I figured out on Ray Roberts and I'm going to pull into a couple of spots and see if I can find the same thing here this morning."

With that, Velvick got quiet and smiled even bigger.

"There's a couple of other guys around and I don't want to tip my hand to them," he said.

Despite his coy answers, if it sounds like Velvick has a game plan in mind, he does. And it's actually one that he has learned from fishing some other fall events on South Texas' Choke Canyon Reservoir near Corpus Christi.

Velvick, a three-time winner of B.A.S.S. events, said that while he didn't have much experience on North Texas lakes around the DFW Metroplex, he did observe that Ray Roberts reminded him of Choke Canyon in some ways.

And when he found a "key little something" on Ray Bob that was reminiscent of a "key little something" he had fished before on Choke Canyon, it was game-on.

Velvick is hopeful he can duplicate his Choke Canyon/Ray Roberts "key little" pattern on Grapevine.

“ I think I know where the fish are and I think I know how to catch them. ”

– Byron Velvick

If he can, then he can move on to the first Championship Round of his MLF career.

"I'm hopeful," said Velvick. "Man, I really felt good after the first round. I'm doing well, this is fall fishing and I like fishing in the fall.

"I think I know where the fish are and I think I know how to catch them."

How excited is Velvick, who owns Amistad Lake Resort in South Texas, about his chances of fishing in the Shell Rotella Challenge Cup Championship Round?

"I'm pretty jacked," he said with a big smile. "I want to make that final. I really want to make that final."

Velvick said to go from the tough run he has had in previous MLF competition to making a final here in Texas would be a huge step for him.

"I'm definitely the hero or zero guy," he laughed. "I always am. I'm either doing real well or not at all.

"So hopefully, this is another one of those major hero days (here at Grapevine)."

If so, then Velvick will move on with a chance to pursue his championship fishing dream.

And that's to be one of the sport's biggest heroes, a Jack Link's Major League Fishing Champion.

NOTE: Sudden Death Day Two of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup will premiere May 3 at 3 p.m. ET on Outdoor Channel. Check here for the full schedule.