QCrew blog: Stetson Blaylock on the “should haves” of the Elite Series season
By Stetson Blaylock

I don’t know whether to call this blog “The tournament that should have been” or “The season that should have been.”

Both are pretty accurate.

I just finished up at the Bassmaster Texas Fest on Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas, and to say it was a confounding tournament is an understatement. I finished 64th with 30 pounds, 15 ounces. The true story of my week, though – and of my entire Elite Series season so far – is the fish I didn’t land.

Day 1: three 5-pounders on three consecutive casts.

Day 2: A 4-pounder and a 7- or 8-pounder.

Add all those together and you have over 25 pounds of lost fish! That sums up this tournament pretty well, but it’s also an assessment of my entire season so far: I’ve lost more bass this season than I have in my entire career.

If you fish tournaments for a living, you’re going to have a season like this, where things just don’t go right for you. Every angler goes through it eventually … you just never think that it’s going to be you.

Using this Sam Rayburn tournament as an example for the season, I missed the cut by just over 1 ½ pounds. I landed 75 percent of my bites, but if I could have landed just 1 percent more, I would’ve made the cut. One percent! I made all the right decisions and hooked the fish to have 21 to 22 pounds both days, but I couldn’t execute like I needed to.

And that’s the most frustrating part. My preparation has been great this season, I’ve made good decisions, and I’ve been around the fish all year long … but I haven’t been able to execute. A fish lost here, a fish lost there. It adds up.

And THAT will drive an angler crazy.

Dealing with adversity
I’ve done this for over 10 years for a living, so I’ve experienced those tournaments where things didn’t go my way. It’s pretty normal to have a tournament here and there where fish come off, or things just go wrong – all you can do is learn from it, put it behind you, and get ready for the next tournament.

That’s just a little bit more challenging when it’s an entire season.

The question you have to ask when you’re in my position is “How do I turn it around?” And it’s a pretty simple answer: you have that one day where everything goes right, you land the fish you need to land, and you squeeze into the cut by 3 ounces.

I thought Day 2 at Rayburn was that day. I was sitting there at 1 p.m. on Day 2 with 13 pounds, needing around 18 pounds to make the cut. I spent the morning catching 2-pounder after 2-pounder, had lost a 4-pounder, but just after 1, I landed a 5 to bump my weight up to 16 pounds. So I started to think to myself “Okay, I think it’s just turned, I’m back on track.”

My very next bite was a 7- or 8-pounder that simply pulled off.

I can’t even tell you how hard it was to concentrate for the next 1 ½ hours to finish the day. I had done everything I needed to do to turn the momentum in my favor, and has lost the bite (for like the 17th time this season).

And even as I write this, I know that my time will come. I’ll have that day, get that bite, and have that breakout tournament where everything goes right.

My attitude never changes: I go out there every day of practice and work hard to find the fish, and then every day of a tournament with the intention to catch every fish I can catch. I go out there knowing that I’m going to win.

It’s been a pretty crazy roller-coaster ride, but I look around me every day and count my blessings. I have my family traveling with me, and I know I have my priorities right to be the best dad, husband and person I can be. I’ll work hard to prepare for my next event at Lake Dardanelle (June 2-5 in Russellville, Arkansas), and be ready to execute when the time comes.