We’re less than a week away from the start of tournament No. 2 on the Walmart FLW Tour at beautiful Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. Thousands of fantasy fishing fans across the globe are in the frenetic process of creating, tweaking and fine-tuning their 10-man rosters.
At this stage in the game, one of my favorite Player’s Advantage tools is the Fantasy Trend. This tool is not subjective – it’s purely about the numbers. Fantasy Trend shows me the exact percentage of fantasy-fishing players who selected each pro angler. I don’t necessarily rely on it for my picks but I certainly find it entertaining as it gives me a good feel for who is picking who.
For example, only 3 percent of all fantasy-fishing players have picked local guide and bass-fishing legend Stacey King. But a whopping 30 percent of Player’s Advantage members have King on their roster.
But the one stat I simply can’t get my head around is Stetson Blaylock. To date, only 1 percent of all players picked Blaylock. Three percent of Player’s Advantage members picked the Berkley pro, but I still think that’s incredibly low. Outside of maybe Robbie Dodson and Greg Bohannan, he is my most confident top-10 pick.
Blaylock is not a true local and he doesn’t have a lot of experience on Table Rock, but the Arkansas and southern Missouri lakes fish very similarly. The humble 21-year-old does not feel slighted despite having only 1 percent of the vote.
“If I make a top 10 as a pro, then people will probably start noticing me,” Blaylock said en route to the lake. “I had a good tournament at Guntersville (finishing 23rd) but you need top 10s. To me, finishing 11th through 50th is all the same. You’re either in the top 10 or you’re not.”
Part of the reason I like Blaylock so much is his prowess with jerkbaits and crankbaits. He’s comfortable throwing reaction baits in clear, cold water, but won’t be so stubborn as to not try anything else.
“That’s how I’m planning to start tomorrow morning,” Blaylock said of jerks and cranks. “But the water is warming up and the fish could be biting plastics. With the warmer weather, I’m hoping they’ll be active in the creeks. Overall, I just like the way this tournament lays out.”
Blaylock said his biggest fear is the size of the lake. With only four days of practice, where do you begin and what if your two best spots are located 50 miles apart?
“You’ve just got to pick an area and fish. You’ve got to keep your baits wet – believe me you will not win this tournament by running every hour.”
I have Blaylock picked eighth. When asked if he liked that position he replied, “Yeah, that’s about right. I’m confident so you can pick me. But pick me low so I can just kind of squeak in.”
Outside of himself, the Benton, Ark., native recommends Bohannan, Brennan Bosley, Clark Wendlandt and Danny Pierce as a sleeper.