Blaylock's key: Concentration

Stetson Blaylock plans to spend all day in the area where he's caught most of his tournament-leading weight of 41 pounds, 12 ounces. It's an area he's left every day at 10:30 a.m. So he's going to concentrate on one spot, and he's going to attempt to keep his mind focused on staying in the moment. It's all about concentration today for Blaylock - both physically and mentally.

"Don't worry about it, that's the key," he said at Saturday's weigh-in. "These fisheries can burn you and hurt you so bad. I'm trying not to worry about what's going on and concentrate on the next bite, the next bite."

Blaylock suspected but had not confirmed that he and 4th place Koby Kreiger were sharing water. That maybe Kreiger was coming in there later after Blaylock had left. If so, that's all been worked out by now. And Blaylock isn't planning to leave today. The 4-plus-pounder he caught yesterday morning let him know that more fish were coming to that spot each day.

"That first big one I caught really surprised me," he said. "I'd already fished that area thoroughly the last two days, and she was just sitting there, fresh and ready to go.

"It's going to take another big bag to win. I think things are starting to get better. I can't really believe that, but guys caught 'em a lot better (Saturday)."

Stetson sharing his spot

Stetson Blaylock believes that one of three boats fishing the area he’s in will eventually win this event. 

He’s sharing this place with Koby Kreiger and Clent Davis, all three of which has spectacular days yesterday.

He says the quality is here and they are unencumbered by the long run the rest of the field is making. Today the wind is forecast to howl with gusts to 25 miles an hour.

But what each group is sharing is the fluctuations of the tide. As I said earlier it’s high now and starting to move. He’s had his best luck when it reaches the midway point. And with the success of Kreiger (one of the top sight fishermen on the Elites) he’s been tipped off that these fish are hitting the beds.

We saw that yesterday in the Cooper.  The calm winds allowed those guys to see and work on what was there. The wind could keep that from happening today. But it won’t impact the three Sandy Island anglers. They are basically in a bowl.

All that said, this is an event that will likely go down to the last hour. The tides will make sure of that.

High tide for Blaylock

Currently the tide is at its highest point in Stetson Blaylock’s area. It’s getting ready to turn and start falling.

Typical tidal water fishing says the bite is best on falling and low tide. But in this instance with fish spawning, some bed fish are caught easier on high tide.

From Blaylock’s standpoint he’s been catching his fish on a variety of tides. He’s caught the bulk of his weight by 10:30 each day. But even then it’s been a grind. 

He knows the tide is later today. And that he will have to keep grinding all day.

Each day he’s made one slow circle around the lake in the center of the island. Today he will make two of those circles, knowing that Koby Kreiger caught two good fish late in the day yesterday.

The biggest question he has floating in the back of his mind is whether these fish live here or if they are coming in to spawn. Then it creates the question of how many are left.

He caught the biggest sack of the derby yesterday, so things are promising.

Blaylock heads to PeeDee River

I’m following Stetson Blaylock today and he’s giving me a big change in scenery.

The past three days we’ve traveled to the Cooper River. Today we are off the PeeDee River, much closer to Georgetown.

Blaylock has slowly chipped his way into the lead in an area known as “The Fingers.”

It’s more properly known as Sandy Island. It’s the largest undeveloped island on the East Coast. But their are a lot of folks who live here. The community was established by a freed slave and many of the residents are his decedents. Their children go to school by way of a school boat.

Lots and lots on interesting things and history in this area. Blaylock is looking to make some of his own history here today.

He’s just arrived about 15 minutes after take off. And at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before the Cooper River Boys get to their destination.

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First place has been shaky ground

One week after Brandon Cobb took the lead and stayed there all four days at Lake Hartwell, we're seeing an entirely different scenario at Winyah Bay, where there’s been a new leader each day. Jason Williamson took the lead on Day 1, and fell to 4th on Day 2 when Bill Lowen took the top spot. Lowen fell out of the top 10 into 12th place on Day 3 when Stetson Blaylock took the lead.

It's not surprising that this tidal fishery has produced so many up and downs in the standings each day. Maybe it's an indication that anyone in today's top 10 has a shot at the title. If you want to put your money on the hottest angler this week, that would be Koby Kreiger, who started in 34th place, jumped to 14th Friday and starts today in 4th place.

The following is a look at the top 10 and where each angler was in the standings each day:

                                    Day 1   Day 2

1. Stetson Blaylock      11th     6th

2. Cory Johnston         13th     9th

3. Clent Davis              5th       11th

4. Koby Kreiger           34th     14th

5. John Crews             10th     19th

6. Luke Palmer            3rd       2nd

7. Jason Williamson   1st       4th

8. Scott Canterbury     9th       26th

9. Jesse Tacoronte      15th     5th

10. Patrick Walters     12th     15th

Blaylock landing them all day

Stetson Blaylock started today in 6th place - 3 pounds, 6 ounces behind leader Bill Lowen. He was frustrated about several lost fish that could have put him closer to the lead.

"I've lost seven fish in the last two days," said the 31-year-old Benton, Ark., resident. "It's the way I like to fish in April. It doesn't matter whether it's at Hartwell (where he finished 2nd last week) or Winyah Bay. The difference here is these fish fight twice as hard as most April bass do across the country.

"I never lose fish jumping, but I've lost them this week. They come up 10 feet from the boat, jump, and shake so hard in the air, it's hard to land them all."

Blaylock has landed them all today. If you've been watching "Bassmaster LIVE," you've seen him put a 4-pounder and a 6-pounder in the boat today. He said Friday that he was going to soak this one area where several other anglers had been on Day 1, but no one else was there on Day 2.

"Maybe I can milk out five more 2 1/2-pounders and maybe get a big one," Blaylock said. "If I can just land them, I'll be right there."

He HAS landed them, and he IS right there. BASSTrakk unofficially shows him with 15-0 and in first place by a few ounces over Cory Johnston. Fifteen pounds appears to be a conservative estimate for what Blaylock has boated so far.

Cory Johnston got his wish

Cory Johnston was lamenting his lack of a kicker fish - something in the 4-pounds-plus class - after his first two days in the Cooper River. He'd stayed within striking distance of the leaders with 11-2 on Day 1 and 11-12 on Day 2. He'd been catching some solid fish in the 3-pound class off spawning beds, but he hadn't run into one of those difference-makers.

"I struggled catching them 'just fishing,'" Johnston said Friday. "They're catching them around me, so I've got to make some adjustments and see what I can do. I'm just going to fish the flats, fish the hydrilla and see if I can luck into one or two of those big ones that all of these guys have been catching."

Johnston got his wish today. His estimated 15-pound, 11-ounce bag includes a 4 1/2-pounder caught at 12:52. Whether it's luck or not, catching those type bass will determine who wins this tournament.

Blaylock on fire

While the Cooper River Run bunch was plowing across the river and up the ICW, Stetson Blaylock caught a key fish from a bed that he’d worked on for an hour. First he caught the male and then he lured in the female. With that five-pounder he is now in the lead according to BASSTrakk. 

What does this mean for tomorrow? Too soon to tell but here is where the clear advantages are for Blaylock, who is not making the long run. He gets to maximize his fishing time, and with bedding fish, that is a huge deal. You might not put the lure in front of as many fish, but the time is well spent when you do it in front of the right one. And he has the time to spend on a single fish by not making that run. 

The point is the hour that it takes to get half-way to the Cooper River can be spent on a fish the likes of which was just caught by Blaylock. What else he has going in his favor is a hot streak. Blaylock is coming off a second place showing last week at Lake Hartwell, and an eighth-place finish at the previous event on Lake Lanier.

Will J-Will make up lost ground?

South Carolina’s own, Jason Williamson, led Day 1 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay with 15 pounds, 11 ounces.

 We’ve caught up with Williamson, who only yielded 8-11 on Day 2. According to BASSTrakk, J-Will is currently in 16th place with three bass for 5-8.

“It’s been a tough day,” Williamson said. “I weighed two big fish out of this area the first day.” 

Williamson is one of the few anglers in contention that elected to stay closer to takeoff to maximize on fishing time. 

He is up the Waccamaw River, approximately 30 minutes from Carroll A. Campbell Marine Complex.

Williamson is looking for two more keepers around the forest of cypress trees, using a wacky-rigged bait and a dropshot around the roots leading to the creek bed.

With the changing tides, this is anyone’s game. As I send this in, J-Will has a big one locked on a bed. Stay tuned on Bassmaster LIVE and see if our Day 1 leader can make a comeback into the Top 10 cut for Championship Sunday.

Palmer left his area

Luke Palmer has left his area and on to hitting some of the stuff that produced a 4-pound plus fish yesterday.

He’s in decent shape. But knows a 3- or 4-pounder would lock him into tomorrow. Not to mention he told me yesterday, he really wants to lead a day in the Elites.

Tomorrow would be the best time to lead, obviously. But he has no way of knowing how close is to that right now.

BASSTrakk has just a pound out of that now. So he’s close. But a big fish is paramount at the moment. And would go a long way to having him in the driver’s seat.

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