Three days of practice on Lake Fork had left Stetson Blaylock considerably less than optimistic as the tournament began last week. He was, however, untroubled by it. Blaylock was 18th in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, so catching just one bass during the first two days would give him all the points he needed to guarantee qualification for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic.
“We’re standing around getting ready for takeoff, and I was all like, ‘I just need to catch a fish to make the Classic. That’s all I need to do,’” Stetson said.
Stetson and Lindsey Blaylock have two children – a son, Kei, and a daughter, Linnie. Kei is 8 years old. Apparently, he enjoys challenging his father.
“Hey, dad, how about this?” Kei said. “How about if you make the Top 10, I get to push you in the lake?”
Editor’s note: See 26 photos of “the dunking.”
“Okay, cool,” replied Stetson, thinking there was no chance of that happening.
The 37-year-old Benton, Ark., angler achieved his goal for the tournament on Day 1 with a 14-pound limit, which put him in 28th place. Blaylock caught only three bass on Day 2, but they totaled 16-7, which moved him up to 20th place. He estimated that 20 or 21 pounds on Day 3 would put him in the Top 10 for Sunday’s final.
“I had three big ones that weighed 16 or 17 pounds (Saturday),” Blaylock said. “Dylan (Robbins), my cameraman, said, ‘Hey, you realize if you catch two more, you’re going swimming, right?’”
Blaylock caught two more, finished with 21-9 and qualified for the Top 10 in seventh place. He finished ninth Sunday, but the Blaylock clan was thinking mostly about the challenge/bet.
“I just think Kei likes to challenge him,” Lindsey said. “He knows dad will stand by whatever he agrees to. And I guess he’s going to learn that dad is a man of his word today.”
After the weigh-in, Stetson and family piled into his boat and motored 150 feet or so away from the bank. Stetson took off his shoes, emptied his pockets, stood on the deck and waited for the push from Kei.
Blaylock surfaced screaming. The 62-degree water was breathtaking. It was a “cool” scene, in every sense of the word.