Stetson Blaylock is looking to become the hometown hero and capture his first Forrest Wood Cup victory this week at Lake Ouachita. It will prove to be a tough tournament for even the most experienced anglers, but Stetson Blaylock hopes that his local knowledge will push him to the top. Let’s see what he has to say about how Ouachita is fishing right now, and what he thinks it will take to bring home the $500,000 payday.
Garmin: How was pre-practice?
Stetson Blaylock: I was a little disappointed. I feel like I know that lake better than anybody in our field. I never got anything figured out, but that’s part of fishing Ouachita. It’s a tricky place to fish and it’s never easy, no matter what. I learned a lot, but didn’t catch many fish. Hopefully I can take what I learned from that and put something together. For me, pre-practice is one of those things that hurts more than it helps, so I try not to get too caught up in it.
Did you spend more time fishing or driving around looking for fish?
I fished quite a bit, and since I know the lake pretty well, I didn’t really feel like I had a whole lot of stuff to just drive around and look at. I fished enough to catch fish and didn’t get many bites, so that threw me off just a tad, but I know Ouachita fishes really tough. I did idle around and mark a lot of waypoints, but I wanted to fish structure that I knew fish related to, just kind of see where they were and see what stages the fish were in. I didn’t really dial in a whole lot as far as where the fish were located.
Do you expect much to change between pre-practice and the time the Cup starts?
I do. I think a lot of things will change. Water temperature and water levels will change, but the weather should stay about the same. I expect the fish to move around a bit.
Are you primarily going to be fishing deep or shallow, and do you think brush or grass will play a factor?
I’m going to fish it all. One reason that might be good and it might be bad is when you know a place, you know where the fish live and where the big fish usually stay. You have to fish it all. I don’t want to stick with one thing because I feel like I would leave other stuff untouched. I don’t want to stick with one game plan the whole time and let it burn myself.
When I fished the Cup in 2011 at Ouachita, I thought I’d have a good chance to do well, but fished it with a one-track mind and stuck with one thing for the whole tournament. I just didn’t let it progress throughout the day and turn out like it needed to. Granted, the Cup is all about winning, so it’s kind of hard to tell myself that I need to stick with one thing to win. I’m going to give everything a shot and run with what I feel like gives me the best chance to win.
Will Ouachita be one of those events where you do a lot of running and gunning from spot to spot, or be one where you fish a few key areas slowly and methodically?
Absolutely. I’m going to run and fish shallow, fish grass, fish brush, fish super deep, or whatever I believe the fish are doing at that point in time.
During practice, I’m just going to try a variety of different things and one will probably stand out more than the rest. Come tournament time, I’ll run whichever pattern I think is best, without get locked down ahead of time on what I think it’s going to be. I’m keeping an open mind.
Since Ouachita is your home lake, are you excited to be fishing another Cup there?
Absolutely. Not often do you get the chance to fish a Cup, period, but definitely not on your home lake. At least I know that when I pull up and make a cast, I know what’s going on. I know what happens there and I’m not playing a guessing game. That’s the best part about it.
We’ve seen time and time again that local knowledge can either be a blessing or a curse. Do you feel like you have a strong advantage at Ouachita?
You know, last time we went there (2011), I said yes. I really thought I was going to win that tournament. I think I just had more of an “I know more about this lake, so I’m going to win” mentality and I didn’t work as hard as the other guys. I think now with the knowledge that I have of the lake and the work ethic that I know it’s going to take to win, it’s going to be a good combination. Yeah, it’s a curse because you can know too much and run around and not ever make the casts that you need to make because you’re too worried about hitting a specific spot, but to me, this time it’s about finding the fish and not the places.
Do you think Panoptix will play a key part in the Cup?
Absolutely. Any time that I’m fishing offshore brush, I’m going to be staring at it.
Will Panoptix be on the boat of whoever wins this tournament?
I really think so. The winner will have Panoptix on his boat. Especially when you’re offshore, having that little advantage over everyone else is key. I’m anxious to get out there and see what I can do with it, because I think it will be that little advantage I need to get me in the winner’s circle.
What do you think it’ll take to win?
I think somewhere between 55-60 pounds will win it.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, and good luck this week at the Forrest Wood Cup!
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