By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
(Editor's note: In observance of the Labor Day holiday, a new First Cast feature story will not appear until Tuesday, Sept. 5.)
Stetson Blaylock put together a rather unusual tournament ledger during the recently completed Bassmaster Elite Series season. He ended up among the Top 10 in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race, but didn't even really come all that close to a 10th-place finish in any of the nine events.
An 18th at Lake St. Clair was his best showing of the campaign. Otherwise, he had three placements in the 20s, two in the 30s and three in the 40s. His worst outing was a 47th in the opener at Lake Okeechobee in February.
In terms of collecting five-figure paychecks (which he did each time out) and racking up points, it was an oustanding season. Nonetheless, the quiet veteran from Arkansas wasn't wholly satisfied.
"Obviously, I'm happy with a Top-10 in the points and my goal is to make every (Day-2) cut, and that happened," he said. "However, it's a little disappointing when I look back on it. There were tournaments when I should've had 15, 20 or even 25 more points and when you add those up, I could've been right in the mix for Angler of the Year.
"That part's all on me – I was finding enough fish to get me through two days to make the cut, but then I wasn't finishing on day 3. Knowing I was going to get another day of fishing, instead of making a plan in my head, I didn't always really have a grasp of how to attack the day. That's something I'm already working on for next season."
As an example of that issue, he pointed to the early June derby at the Sabine River. He caught 11-06 on Day 1 (a strong weight for that stingy venue) and was in 6th place, then a bag that was a little under 7 pounds dropped him to 14th after Day 2.
On Day 3, he surrendered 28 places in the standings with a two-fish, 2-06 tally.
"I wanted to go to my starting area and catch a limit at my first stop, but it didn't happen," he said. "I lost two or three fish and had a couple of mishaps there and that set the tone for the day. That all happened in the first hour.
"My next decision took me away from the fish that had gotten me to that point. If I had it to do over, I'd definitely make a different decision after that first stop."
He ran 45 miles back toward the launch in Orange, Texas. He said that he knew it was the wrong call before he'd completed the journey, but at that point he had no option other than to fish out the day as best he could.
"I got back over there and all the guys who were doing well were fishing right there," he said. "I couldn't just show up on Day 3 and start fishing in their areas. I just had to bounce around and make sure I didn't get in their way and it just turned into a bad day.
"That took it from being an excellent tournament to just an okay one and that kills you when you're fishing for Angler of the Year. Sometimes you can get away with dropping the ball once or twice, but this wasn't one of those seasons. Too many guys caught them too well."
The 15-year pro has twice finished as the runner-up in a tour-level AOY race (2019 on the Elite Series, which was the year he won the event at Winyah Bay, and 2013 with FLW). He was third on the 2016 FLW list.
He says capturing a points title is a significant goal for him, but the quest is not an obsession.
As a competitor and an angler, I want to win every tournament, I want to win every Classic and I want to win Angler of the Year," he said. "But as a human being, I know how blessed I am to have the jbot that I do. I've had some really good years, but I just haven't come out with the trophy.
"It takes a lot of work and a lot of things have to go right. It's important, but is not winning it the end of the world? No, it's not. There are other things that are a lot more important."