At a marina filled mostly with sailboats, 73 bass boats milling about created a bit of a buzz.
Boats idled around the launch ramp. Some anglers trailered their boats while others docked, the occupants bagging bass from livewells and walking them to a stage transformed from a trailer. A small crowd, made up mostly of spouses, parents and children, milled about waiting to watch their loved ones weigh in.
The scene at WestRock Landing on Lake Maumelle came courtesy of a Little Rock sports/talk radio station holding its fourth Big Buzz Bass Fishing Tournament, yet it’s a scene similarly played out all across the country. Bass fishing derbies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and these smaller, grass-root competitions fire up tens of thousands of anglers each week all across America.
“I love the competition,” said Keeton Blaylock, who finished second with teammate Van Wise in 103.7 The Buzz’s event. “There is nothing like fishing, period. It’s something you can do all year long, all your life. I love being able to go out. Every time you compete, somebody’s got to win. Why not us?”
It’s that addictive draw that keeps Blaylock heading out to his regular Tuesday night events, as well as searching for any weekend events near home. He even said many Friday date nights have been spent in derbies.
“There’s couple different pages on Facebook,” said Blaylock, who as a member utilizes listings like Arkansas Bass Tournaments. “Once you start getting to be a member, you can find tournaments everywhere. There are numerous events every weekend, just about on every lake.
“In a tournament like this, a team tournament, you just get to enjoy yourself so much with that guy you’re with, or girl. You end up getting to know these guys like your brothers.”
Funny you mention it. Keeton’s brother is Bassmaster Elite Series angler Stetson Blaylock. Their parents, Julie and Jesse, were front and center at their other fishing son’s weigh-in.
At first, Keeton, who was excited to recently be accepted for his dream job as a fireman, grew up jealous that his older brother got to go fish with their uncle before he was old enough. He said Stetson always had that extra special desire to become a pro angler.
“He had it since I can remember — I don’t remember him saying anything other than wanting to be a professional fisherman,” Keeton said. “Everybody has to grow into it.”