TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Stetson Blaylock loves a tough tournament, and pushing through Thursday’s tough conditions delivered a 15-pound, 9-ounce limit that leads Day 1 of the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller.

Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., is leading after Day 1 of the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller with 15 pounds, 9 ounces. 

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

Daytime highs reached into the 90s, while a declining lake level, which has lost about a foot and a half since practice, left fish displaced and finicky. Fishing the mid- to lower lake, Blaylock caught a mixed bag of largemouth, spotted bass and smallmouth bass. His catch, which included a 4-pound smallmouth, was a welcome performance, considering his expectations.

“Everybody said practice was bad, but I literally caught six keepers the entire practice,” the Benton, Ark., angler said. “I just like this style of lake. When they pulled that water down, it didn’t help the bite, but I was able to slow down and not think about whether I need to flip bushes because I knew the water was falling out of there. So, I just went out with no care and threw.

“I knew if I just caught a bass, that I would be in (the Bassmaster Classic) easy. My very first cast, I caught a 12-inch spotted bass and I was like ‘Well, my day’s made.’ So I just slowed down.”

Blaylock demonstrated his toughness earlier this season with a hard-fought win at the Winyah Bay Bassmaster Elite Series event in April. Acknowledging the similarities, he notes two major differences: First, he stayed in a much smaller area on the South Carolina tidal fishery; moreover, his 2020 Classic berth was far from secure at Winyah.

“Coming into this tournament, I knew I was in sixth, so I feel like that freed me up a lot,” he said.

Blaylock used a mix of reaction and slow baits. Noting that he’s fishing a little deeper than most around him, Blaylock said that keeping an open mind served him well.

“Bites are tough right now, so you want to capitalize on every one of them,” he said. “I’m not afraid to do things that I did not catch bass on in practice. Every bass I caught today came on baits I did not throw in practice.”

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for clouds, more wind, cooler temperatures and the likelihood of showers. Blaylock said he’ll probably need to change his game plan for Day 2, but believes he’s positioned himself well for whatever unfolds.

“I don’t think what I did today will work tomorrow because we’ve had sun and high heat for the past several days,” he said. “I think they’ll bite a little bit better, so it feels really good to have a 1-pound cushion.”

Louisiana pro Caleb Sumrall delivered some late-day heroics to land in second place with a catch of 14-9. With four keepers in his livewell 15 minutes before he had to leave for check-in, Sumrall made a key decision to leave the shallow pattern he’d been running and fish offshore. The payoff was a 5-7 largemouth that completed his limit and now leads the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week.

“That kind of fish is a day-maker,” Sumrall said. “Everything I had going wasn’t working out, so I just took off from the ramp and fished what looked good. I fished from the top of the river to the dam.

“I had 12 rods on my deck and five where my marshal would have been sitting. It was junk fishing 101. I caught my five fish on four different baits. That’s what’s scary about a lake like this. But with the changing conditions, you have to keep an open mind to everything.”

In third place, Kyle Monti committed to what he feels is an overlooked habitat feature that produced a limit of 14-4. The Florida pro was lean on details, but said he was pleased to discover that the spot he’d found in practice was even more productive than he had initially thought.

He caught a couple of bass on a topwater bait and then slowed down to pick apart the spot with dragging presentations.

“I feel like I found something that’s pretty special,” Monti said. “Today, I pulled in and they came up schooling, and that made me slow down and stay in the area. I think there’s enough there where I can catch another 10 to 12 pounds for sure.”

The tournament will resume Friday with takeoff at 7 a.m. CT from Chicken Creek Ramp in Cookson, Okla. Weigh-in on Day 2 will be held at the launch site a 3 p.m. Weigh-ins on Days 3 and 4 will move to the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah in Tahlequah, Okla., at 4 p.m.

2019 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller Title Sponsor: Cherokee Casino Tahlequah

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors:  Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Lowrance, Mossy Oak Fishing, T-H Marine, Academy Sports + Outdoors

2019 Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite At Lake Tenkiller Host: Cherokee Nation Entertainment, LLC

About Cherokee Nation Entertainment
Cherokee Nation Entertainment is the wholly owned gaming, hospitality, retail and tourism entity of the Cherokee Nation, the largest tribal government in the United States. The company currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa; nine Cherokee Casinos, including a horse racing track; three hotels; three golf courses; and other retail operations. For more information, visit www.cherokeecasino.com.

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 510,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2 and The Pursuit Channel), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

2019 Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller 9/19-9/22
Lake Tenkiller, Tahlequah  OK.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1


   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

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 TX AUSTRALIA  5  13-11   96
  Day 1: 5   13-11   
6.  Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA             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 Ontario CA  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 Ontario CANADA  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   
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Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
 1        42       291       571-06
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          42       291       571-06