May 16, 2014 by Lindsey Blaylock
Editor's Note: Stetson Blaylock was invited to fish the Texas Bass Classic because of this high performance in the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour Standings. Blaylock finished second place with 102 pounds, 12 onces of fish over three days of competition. The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are her own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
This past week was a whirlwind. We just returned home from the Texas Bass Classic in Quittman, Texas, on Lake Fork. This event is hosted every year by the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) and includes the top 15 anglers from the Walmart FLW Tour, Bassmaster Elite Series and PAA. It really is an honor just to be invited. This was Stetson's third time to compete, and it was, like always, an amazing event.
We arrived on Sunday before the tournament to our house for the week. We stayed with fellow FLW Tour pro Cody Meyer and his wife, Kari, as well as Elite Series pro Justin Lucas and his wife, Breanna. When we travel, we like to rent homes or stay in cabins since we have our son, Kei. This helps us keep our normal schedule for Kei and allows me to continue to cook on the road.
On Monday, after an early morning meeting, practice started and continued through Wednesday. Stetson, Cody and Justin all seemed to have a decent practice, but none really felt like he was on the "winning school." The weather was nice and hot during practice. Of course, right before the tournament a front came through, and it was rainy and extremely windy.
The crazy thing about Lake Fork is that you can easily catch huge fish pretty much anywhere. I guess that is why Stetson fishes and I am Mom, because I would have been so confused as to what to do for the tournament. I get excited about catching a 2-pounder, and those weren't even getting weighed this week because they were considered squeakers!
The first morning of the tournament was kind of crazy because we got to the ramp a little later than we had planned, so we were really rushed. We normally go to the ramp and let Kei spend a little time with daddy before takeoff, but we didn't even see Stets for more than five minutes before he was taking off. He seemed pretty calm, but I knew he was anxious to get out there.
The tournament had a live leaderboard that we watched during the day to keep us up to date on how the anglers were doing. This feature was great because I am obsessed and like knowing exactly what is going on the minute it happens. I watched it pretty closely for the first hour, and Stetson wasn't catching much, so I decided to get Kei down for a nap. Right after I got him to sleep a frenzy started on the computer screen! It seemed like there were fish being caught like crazy all of the sudden. Then I realized that it was 10 a.m., and Stets already had 25 pounds. I was so excited!!!
Shortly after that I saw an update saying he caught a 6- and a 5-pounder with the same time stamp. Later I found out he actually caught them at the same time on one crankbait. Minutes later an update flashed across the screen saying that he had caught an 11-pounder! I almost passed out. Not only had he caught the biggest fish of his whole life, but he had easily surpassed his heaviest five-bass limit! This day seemed to set the pace for the rest of the tournament. The size of fish and the weights were just crazy.
Going into Sunday he was in second place, and I knew if it was Stetson's turn to win then it would all work out. That is one thing Stetson and I have always agreed on and wholeheartedly believed: If it is in God's will for him to win an event then it will happen, and we shouldn't stress or be anxious about it. During the day I checked the weights and fish catches a few times by contacting friends that were out on the water. When Stetson is fishing for this big of a win it is a little nerve-racking thinking about him and wondering if he is OK, frustrated, having a good time, etc. This time, it was actually a little funny, but I had something to take my mind off Setson's fishing. My grandparents had driven from home to see him weigh in, and due to lack of road signs they got a little "turned around" trying to find our house. I had to go rescue them!
At the end of the day, Stetson ended up in second place. I was just so proud of him and how amazing he did, especially with the caliber of competition in the event. It was such a fun time and definitely something we will both never forget. Stetson looked at me after the final weigh-in and said, "I definitely didn't lose. I just got beat!"
I couldn't agree more. Keith Combs totally earned that win with 110 pounds in three days, and Stetson had an amazing time competing. I am just so excited to see what the rest of the year brings. Such a great finish definitely helps with keeping a positive attitude and outlook for upcoming tournaments.
Talk to you soon,