Williams: ‘I’m just doing Tyler stuff’

Tyler Williams

LEESBURG, Fla. — The first bass Tyler Williams ever caught was on a jig, while fishing from the bank near his home in Belgrade, Maine. He hasn’t found much reason to change baits since, even during his rookie year on the Elite Series.

“I’m just doing Tyler stuff,” laughed the 22-year-old angler. “I’ve gotten good at everything, don’t get me wrong. We’re on the Elite Series. But it works. I don’t know what to say.”

This is the method that has produced a 19th-place finish at Toledo Bend, a fourth-place finish at Lake Fork and after two days at the Lowrance Bassmaster Elite at the Harris Chain a seventh-place spot in the Day 2 standings: a 3/4-ounce jig with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog trailer on 22-pound test line fishing offshore.

And there’s another big key to his success – forward facing sonar. Something old – a jig, and something new – forward facing sonar – has gotten Williams off to an amazing start to his rookie season. And he’s done it while fishing nowhere near the bank.

“You’ve almost got to be better at finding fish than catching them,” he said. “Some are educated and some aren’t. Usually, I can convince them with that jig. You can make it imitate different things, I guess. It’s mostly about how I work it. Forward-facing helps you read the fish. You can go from there, whether you need to hop it, shake it, reel it or just let it sit there. You get a feel for it, is what I’m trying to say.

“That’s just the way I like to fish – with a big jig, offshore.”

Williams has admitted to throwing a jerkbait a bit the last two days, especially Saturday morning. “I had to get something going,” he said. “It was a little slow to start.”

Interestingly, Williams didn’t make a cast during the three-day practice period.

“My practice was me not fishing,” he said. “I’ve got all these waypoints everywhere. I’m still kind of practicing.”

He weighed 17-2 on Day 1 and 17-9 Saturday. “Practice” is going pretty well for him.

Blaylock’s streak ends at 11-straight cuts

For first time since 2022, Stetson Blaylock didn’t make the two-day cut in an Elite Series tournament. And he barely missed this one. The Benton, Ark., angler finished 55th Saturday, 10 ounces out of 50th place. He was the only angler to make all nine top 50/Day 2 cuts last season and continued the streak with a 15th-place finish at Toledo Bend and a 6th at Lake Fork this year.

“When you make that many cuts in a row there are a lot of things that have to go right,” Blaylock said. “I had a fish hooked up today that would have helped me make the cut. But I could say that so many times where if I had lost a fish, I wouldn’t have made the cut.

“The only thing I can credit it to is getting more comfortable with just making decisions. Even on a tough day, you keep your head down. You’re looking for one or two bites here or there.”

Blaylock recalled a scenario last season at Santee Cooper on Day 2 when he headed back to the check-in point with only three keepers in the boat. He stopped just short of the dock, dropped his trolling motor and landed a 3 ½-pounder. Without that fish, he would have finished 53rd and missed the cut, instead he placed 24th after Day 3.

“To make that many cuts in a row is pretty special,” Blaylock said Saturday. “It kind of makes you reminisce about how thankful you are to make that many in a row.”

Mueller surprised by his success

Paul Mueller isn’t a run-and-gun junk fisherman. It’s not his style.

“I like to find a spot where I can just fish for a few days,” he said.

However, Mueller has been running and gunning and junk fishing his way to 6th place after two days on the Harris Chain. He weighed 17-13 on Day 1, anchored by a 7-14 bass, and followed it with 17-0 Saturday, anchored by a 7-1 big bass.

“Those two big bites are the key,” said the Naugatuck, Conn., angler, who will celebrate his 40th birthday next week. “I was just hoping to catch enough to make a check. It’s hard to be consistent here.”

The two big bass have come on a wacky-rigged worm, but he’s thrown about everything else to fill his limit both days.

“I’ve caught them on everything from a swim jig, to swimming a worm to a drop shot – just kind of junk fishing,” he said. “I don’t have a place where I feel like I can go and get a quick limit. I’ve caught them off vegetation, wood, rock. If it looks good, fish it.”

Kreiger ‘gets well’ Saturday

Florida angler Koby Kreiger hasn’t been feeling up to par. It didn’t help when he weighed only 6 pounds, 9 ounces on Day 1, which left him in 95th place.

“My wife told me to go catch ‘em today and I’d feel better,” Kreiger said.

Kreiger, while still suffering a bit physically, got well mentally Saturday when he weighed one of the bigger limits of the day – 19 pounds, 14 ounces – which vaulted him into 31st place, well inside the top 50 cut.

“Today the wind had changed directions,” Kreiger said. “It was blowing good today, but it changed directions and allowed me to set up where I needed to fish. I got off to a great start this morning instead of not catching the first fish until like 10:30 yesterday. Same baits, same deal.”