By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Low-weight events appear to be Stetson Blaylock's specialty these days.

The veteran from Arkansas won the toughest derby that's been staged on the Bassmaster Elite Series so far this year the mid-April tournament at Winyah Bay. Oklahoma's Lake Tenkiller could prove to be even stingier than that coastal Carolina fishery this week and it looks as if Blaylock has designs on joining Brandon Cobb and Jamie Hartman as two-time winners in 2019.

His 15-09 stringer on day 1 was a pound heavier than anyone else in the 75-angler field could manage on a warm, calm September day that offered conditions not conducive to catching quality bass. The five keeper fish he weighed were the only ones he caught.

"I didn't have a good practice at all," he said. "I kind of just changed things up and stayed with confidence baits and it all boiled down to getting four good bites."

Second-year pro Caleb Sumrall continued his strong second half of the season with a 14-09 haul that put him in the No. 2 position. Kyle Monti, a Floridian who has just one finish better than 48th this year, is 3rd with 14-04 and another competitor from Florida, Jesse Tacoronte, is just an ounce behind in 4th.

Carl Jocumsen, the Australian whose season ledger is similar to Monti's, completed the initial top 5 with 13-11. The remainder of the top 10 consists of Angler of the Year contender Cory Johnston (13-04), Brandon Card (12-12), Kelley Jaye and Gary Clouse (both with 12-03) and Quentin Cappo (12-01).

Less than a third of the field (21 anglers) weighed 10 pounds or more. That number would have been significantly higher if not for a 16-inch minimum-length restriction on largemouths and smallmouths.

Limits were brought to the scale by 42 competitors, but some consisted entirely of small spotted bass (12-inch minimum). For example, Bernie Schultz's five-fish bag registered only 4-13. Veterans Clark Wendlandt and Yusuke Miyazaki failed to catch a keeper.

The WeatherChannel.com forecast for day 2 predicts a big drop in the air temperature (from 91 degrees down to 77), a few rain showers and a stronger breeze (10 mph out of the southeast). Most believe that the change can only help the bite.

The full field will fish again on day 2, with the top 35 moving on to Saturday's third round. Only the top 10 will compete on Sunday.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Caleb Sumrall's bag was topped by a 5 1/2-pounder that took big-bass honors for the day.

Blaylock's bag contained three smallmouths, a largemouth and a spot. A 4-pound bronzeback was his biggest specimen.

"I started out just trying to catch keeper spots and my first bite was one, then my next fish was a big smallmouth," he said. "Then I caught two more big smallmouth and finished it off with a good largemouth at the end of the day."

The only company he had in his best area was a guy with whom he spoke with during practice, so that was expected.

"He did pretty good, too. Everything worked out today and I hope nothing changes (in that regard)."

He said the clouds and wind that are predicted for day 2 might make it a little more difficult for him to operate his program, but he can't foresee them hindering the bite.

"It can't get much slower than five keeper bites all day."

Sumrall caught the day's biggest fish a 5 1/2-pound largemouth that accounted for about 40 percent of his weight. Like Blaylock, he said he had an unproductive practice and had to come up with a new game plan for day 1.

"I really wanted to fish shallow and catch them in the bushes, but they've been drawing the lake down and there's literally no water left in them," he said. "Today I just junk-fished the whole time."

He weighed four largemouths and a spot. His big one bit about 15 minutes before check-in time.

"I'm looking forward (to the weather change) like you wouldn't believe. I know I'm around the right fish. A guy who can put together all largemouths in his bag can win this deal."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Kyle Monti caught his fish on a variety of baits.

Monti did box five largemouths, the biggest of which weighed 3-10. He also junk-fished for the majority of the day.

"I caught fish cranking, on a topwater, on a jigging spoon, on a 10-inch worm and on a Carolina rig. The big problem is you catch a lot of non-keepers.

"I was able to get a couple of good bites that pointed me in the right direction. At this time of year you have to be able to adjust and fish the conditions and I'm just kind of going on the fly. I caught fish in places where I hardly fished in practice."

Tacoronte was a bit of an anomaly he said he actually had a good practice. His day-1 bag contained two smallmouths, two spots and a 5-pound largemouth.

He handled seven keepers and caught more than 30 short fish.

"I found a specific pattern that seems to get better as these days roll on," he said. "I started with it on the first day of practice and I've just kept expanding on it.

"It's been an absolute grind it's not a pattern that's going to get me 20 keeper bites, but the ones I do get are all 3 pounds and up. I don't even need a limit of those; I'll take four of them and then run and fill out with a 12-inch spots. They're in 12 feet of water and you can catch a hundred a day with a shaky-head."

Jay Yelas came into the event at No. 44 in the points. He managed just two fish for 2-14 and sits in 64th place, so he'll need a more productive day 2 to ensure he stays inside the top 50 for advancement to the AOY Championship at Lake St. Clair.

"I caught some really nice largemouth in the buckbrush in practice, but now there's no more water in that stuff," he said. "I ended up going and fishing for spots and I just caught a couple of those. I'll have to do something different tomorrow.

"This thing might've been won out of the bushes if the water had stayed in them."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 75 anglers, 42 limits, 9 fours, 7 threes, 9 twos, 6 ones, 2 zeroes.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., Sept. 20 Showers 77/68
- Wind: From the SE at 10 mph

> Sat., Sept. 21 Scattered T-Storms 84/69
- Wind: From the S at 11 mph

> Sun., Sept. 22 Scattered T-Storms 80/62
- Wind: From the SSW at 10 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 5, 15-09 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 15-09

2. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 5, 14-09 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 14-09

3. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 5, 14-04 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 14-04

4. Jesse Tacoronte -- Kissimmee, FL -- 5, 14-03 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 14-03

5. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS -- 5, 13-11 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 13-11

6. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 5, 13-04 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 13-04

7. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 12-12 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 12-12

8. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 5, 12-03 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 12-03

9. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 5, 12-03 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 12-03

10. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 5, 12-01 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 12-01

11. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 5, 12-00 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 12-00

12. Lee Livesay -- Gladewater, TX -- 5, 11-06 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 11-06

13. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 5, 11-01 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 11-01

14. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 5, 10-15 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 10-15

14. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 5, 10-15 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 10-15

16. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 5, 10-14 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 10-14

17. Mike Huff -- Corbin, KY -- 5, 10-13 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 10-13

18. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 5, 10-11 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 10-11

18. Patrick Walters -- Summerville, SC -- 5, 10-11 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 10-11

20. Harvey Horne -- Bella Vista, AR -- 4, 10-09 -- 81
Day 1: 4, 10-09

21. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 10-02 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 10-02

22. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 5, 09-15 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 09-15

23. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 5, 09-14 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 09-14

24. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 5, 09-14 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 09-14

25. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 5, 09-11 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 09-11

25. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 09-11 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 09-11

27. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 5, 09-11 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 09-11

28. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON -- 5, 09-08 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 09-08

29. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 5, 09-06 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 09-06

30. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 5, 08-15 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 08-15

31. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 4, 08-12 -- 70
Day 1: 4, 08-12

32. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 08-11 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 08-11

32. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 08-11 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 08-11

34. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 5, 08-02 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 08-02

35. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 5, 08-00 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 08-00

36. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON -- 4, 08-00 -- 65
Day 1: 4, 08-00

37. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 5, 07-12 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 07-12

38. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 3, 07-10 -- 63
Day 1: 3, 07-10

39. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 5, 07-07 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 07-07

40. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 5, 07-05 -- 61
Day 1: 5, 07-05

41. Derek Hudnall -- Baton Rouge, LA -- 5, 07-04 -- 60
Day 1: 5, 07-04

42. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 4, 07-03 -- 59
Day 1: 4, 07-03

43. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 4, 07-02 -- 58
Day 1: 4, 07-02

44. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 07-01 -- 57
Day 1: 5, 07-01

45. Rob Digh -- Denver, NC -- 4, 07-00 -- 56
Day 1: 4, 07-00

46. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 3, 06-13 -- 55
Day 1: 3, 06-13

47. Shane LeHew -- Catawba, NC -- 5, 06-12 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 06-12

48. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 5, 06-09 -- 53
Day 1: 5, 06-09

49. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 5, 06-08 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 06-08

50. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 3, 06-02 -- 51
Day 1: 3, 06-02

51. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 4, 06-01 -- 50
Day 1: 4, 06-01

52. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 3, 05-09 -- 49
Day 1: 3, 05-09

53. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 3, 05-08 -- 48
Day 1: 3, 05-08

54. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 2, 05-06 -- 47
Day 1: 2, 05-06

55. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 3, 05-00 -- 46
Day 1: 3, 05-00

56. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 2, 04-15 -- 45
Day 1: 2, 04-15

57. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 04-13 -- 44
Day 1: 5, 04-13

58. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 1, 04-06 -- 43
Day 1: 1, 04-06

59. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 4, 04-03 -- 42
Day 1: 4, 04-03

60. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 4, 03-15 -- 41
Day 1: 4, 03-15

61. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 3, 03-10 -- 40
Day 1: 3, 03-10

62. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 1, 03-04 -- 39
Day 1: 1, 03-04

63. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 2, 03-02 -- 38
Day 1: 2, 03-02

64. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 2, 02-14 -- 37
Day 1: 2, 02-14

65. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 1, 02-14 -- 36
Day 1: 1, 02-14

66. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 2, 02-08 -- 35
Day 1: 2, 02-08

67. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 1, 02-05 -- 34
Day 1: 1, 02-05

68. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 2, 02-04 -- 33
Day 1: 2, 02-04

69. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 2, 02-01 -- 32
Day 1: 2, 02-01

69. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 2, 02-01 -- 32
Day 1: 2, 02-01

71. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 2, 02-00 -- 30
Day 1: 2, 02-00

72. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 1, 01-09 -- 29
Day 1: 1, 01-09

73. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 1, 01-01 -- 28
Day 1: 1, 01-01

74. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 0, 00-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 00-00

74. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 0, 00-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 00-00