UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Scouting with Stetson

“I don’t know where or how to win it yet, but I know this lake as good as anyone,” says Stetson Blaylock. “I might not be due, but nobody wants to win this as bad as I do.”

Throughout our morning together, the Benton, Ark., pro emphasized his desire to win over and over. Plagued by close calls since winning in his rookie year on the Walmart FLW Tour in 2009, Blaylock has been consistently excellent without another win since. With the Forrest Wood Cup on Ouachita, this might be Blaylock’s best shot at winning the title – if he can overcome the hometown curse and make the right calls based on the moment and his extensive experience on the lake.

What follows is the beginning of his second day of practice for the biggest event of his life.

 

Starting out from Crystal Springs, Blaylock made a medium run to an area where he found schooling fish during pre-practice.

Starting out from Crystal Springs, Blaylock made a medium run to an area where he found schooling fish during pre-practice. The goal was to perhaps catch a few bass and hopefully ascertain the best time of day to tap into the fickle schoolers.

 

They weren't busting when we arrived, so Blaylock calmly untangled his rods and made a few tackle tweaks to begin the day.

They weren’t busting when we arrived, so Blaylock calmly untangled his rods (because he is staying at home for practice he didn’t need to take them out of the rod locker because they weren’t ever in the locker) and made a few tackle tweaks to begin the day.

 

Foxes!

While we waited for the bass, a few foxes passed by on the opposite shore. In addition to being beautiful, Ouachita is home to a ton of wildlife. From squirrels and deer to turkeys and eagles, the Arkansas gem has a bunch of it all.

 

Blaylock shielded his eyes against the rising sun between sips of his morning coffee. About a half hour into the day, and the bass weren't crushing shad like he had hoped.

Blaylock shielded his eyes against the rising sun between sips of his morning coffee. About a half hour into the day, and the bass weren’t crushing shad like he had hoped. 

 

Eventually, Blaylock picked up a rod and began casting. It didn't take long to connect with a small spotted bass.

Eventually, Blaylock picked up a rod and began casting. It didn’t take long to connect with a small spotted bass.

 

Though it wasn't a giant, the plump little bass did measure and would have gone in the livewell on game day.

Though it wasn’t a giant, the plump little bass did measure and would have gone in the livewell on game day.

 

Moving around in the same creek, Blaylock kept casting and looking, hoping to find the schools of big ones that had been so plentiful before the lake went off-limits.

Moving around in the same creek, Blaylock kept casting and looking, hoping to find the schools of big ones that had been so plentiful before the lake went off-limits.

 

Deep rods.

Shallow rods.

Despite poking fun at Dave Lefebre for having too much tackle, Blaylock had a full arsenal roughly organized into deep and shallow piles on deck. He says the number of rods is emblematic of his experience on the lake and the number of options that mid-August provides. To cover all the bases you need a little of everything.

 

Hooked up! A short move to the back of a creek that has held giants in the past seemed like a genius choice.

Hooked up! A short move to the back of a creek that has held giants in the past seemed like a genius choice.

 

Except the first bite was a pickerel.

Except the first bite was a pickerel.

 

And then another and another and another. Blaylock quickly realized that he had found the mother lode of pickerel. Long story short, look up Blaylock if you have a pickerel tournament coming up on Ouachita.

And then another and another and another. Blaylock quickly realized that he had found the mother lode of pickerel. Long story short, look up Blaylock if you have a pickerel tournament coming up on Ouachita.

 

Frustrated by the pickerel, it was time for a move and a homemade breakfast burrito.

Frustrated by the pickerel, it was time for a move and a homemade breakfast burrito. For practice, Blaylock was fully stocked with food from home. He eats a bit lighter during competition, but he’s definitely not the kind to go all day with only a granola bar.

 

The next stop was a main-lake point with standing timber. He says it is really good in the winter, but he wanted to check on it while he was nearby.

The next stop was a main-lake point with standing timber. He says it is really good in the winter, but he wanted to check on it while he was nearby.

 

That's something! There were plenty of spots on his spot.  Unfortunately, the largemouths likely needed to win weren't there.

That’s something! There were plenty of spots on his spot.  Unfortunately, the largemouths likely needed to win weren’t there.

 

As he moved through the lake, Blaylock paused to ride over a number of grass patches and brush piles to check for bass and simply get an idea of the status of his spots.

As he moved through the lake, Blaylock paused to ride over a number of grass patches and brush piles to check for bass and simply get an idea of the status of his spots.

 

Blaylock sampled a little of everything - from the back of creeks to this steep wall on the main lake.

Blaylock sampled a little of everything – from the back of creeks to this steep wall on the main lake. He also really did make use of most of the rods on deck, throwing a worm here, a drop-shot there and something else at the next spot.

 

The number of rods on deck meant that he rarely needed to dig into the storage. When he did, he got what he needed very quickly and was very organized.

The number of rods on deck meant that he rarely needed to dig into the storage. When he did, he got what he needed very quickly and was very organized. Despite the relaxed pace of practice, you could pick up on the little efficiencies and habits that help to make Blaylock one of the top anglers on Tour.

 

Probing a deep school of something he marked on his electronics led to a big bend and a brief battle. Unfortunately, it was simply too big to be a bass, and the bend was revealed to be a drum for a second at the surface.

Probing a deep school of something he marked on his electronics led to a big bend and a brief battle. Unfortunately, it was simply too big to be a bass, and the bend was revealed to be a drum for a second at the surface. After shaking off the drum, Blaylock was ready to make a move to some fresh water for a new start on the day.

 

“I’m not kickin’ you out, but you have to leave,” says Blaylock before dropping me off at the ramp.

As I headed for my laptop, he rolled back out to explore some more of the lake he knows so well. 

Tags: stetson-blaylock  lake-ouachita  forrest-wood-cup  summer  jody-white  pre-tournament  2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup 

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