Blaylock wrangles Winyah win

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Stetson Blaylock came to the Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay with one goal in mind: don’t finish last. He accomplished that goal — and then some.

The third-year Elite Series pro from Arkansas tallied a four-day total of 50 pounds, 15 ounces and earned a victory that was unexpected, to say the least. He capped the win with a Championship Sunday limit of five bass that weighed 9-3.

“I came here with the intentions of ‘Don’t ruin your season; don’t come here and finish dead last,’” said Blaylock, who earned $100,000 for the victory. “When I found my area, I knew it had fish, so I thought I’d get out of here with a Top 35 and roll on to the next one. I didn’t know it had winning potential at all.

“I look back at every bass I lost this week and think ‘Gosh, I should’ve caught that one.’ Today, I had one good one that jumped off that would have been another 2 pounds. When that kind of stuff happens, you’re not supposed to win, but when it’s your time, you can’t do anything wrong.”

Time management was essential throughout the week. While many of his competitors ran 100-plus miles to fish various areas of the Cooper River, Blaylock earned his first blue trophy by staying in a pond off the Waccamaw River, about 18 minutes from takeoff at Georgetown’s Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex.

Lined with overhanging trees, the area held deeper water and sprouted a few tributary canals. Here, Blaylock placed 11th on Day 1 with 11-6, rose to sixth the next day with 12-7 and surged into the Day 3 lead by sacking up a limit of 17-15, the tournament’s heaviest bag.

Today, Blaylock faced a tougher bite, but his 9-3 was enough to hold off a dramatic charge by second-place angler Scott Canterbury, who finished just 9 ounces behind Blaylock.

“I’ve never been here before, so I went to where I knew there were some fish,” Blaylock said. “That gave me the entire day to fish.”