Deep Water Double Threat with Stetson Blaylock

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Bucks Falcon Mercury
Bucks Skeeter Yamaha
Power Pole
Lews Fishing

story by Dan O’Sullivan – photos by Tom Leogrande

This is the time of the year that the offshore bite becomes the most consistent bite on the lake. When bass leave their beds, feed up for their postspawn recovery and turn towards their offshore summer haunts; most anglers do the same.

The saying goes that, “there are always some bass in the shallows” is true. However, the savvy angler knows that the best way to put a huge hurtin’ on the bass – and the leaderboard is to turn his back on the bank and find groups of fish offshore.

So, with that being an acknowledged fact, how does an angler begin taking advantage of bass that are offshore gorging themselves on baitfish. Of course, there is the deep crankbait bite, but the bass are not always active enough for the big plug. Sometimes they become sluggish when the water is not moving, and you need another method to load the boat.

FLW Pro Stetson Blaylock, from Benton, Ark. is an angler that loves to fish offshore when the bass are there, and he has learned a few tricks of the trade that give him a chance to catch bass when they are in a mood that doesn’t have them chasing crankbaits.

“I’ve got a one-two punch for fishing on offshore structure,” he said. “Which one of them I fish depends on how fish are positioned on offshore structure, but it all revolves around a swimbait and a big worm.” His favorite baits are a 5-inch Berkley Hollow Belly and a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm.

However, his approach starts with some planning.

The Eyes Have It
Blaylock said that the most important part of knowing how to attack bass on offshore structure is to identify two things; the type of structure and how fish are positioned on that structure. “I typically look for long, flat, tapering points that break off into deep water or secondary points that drop off into a main creek,” he said. “Once I see them with my eyes, I turn to my underwater eyes; my Lowrance HDS units.”

Blaylock said that the innovations in fishfinders has allowed him to become more efficient in his search. Because of his Structure Scan capabilities, he said that he can cover as much water in one day as the average weekend angler would do in three to four days. He said that the ability to cover water is important because you need to be able to see how bass are positioned in order to fish them correctly.

“If I see bass suspended above the bottom, or suspended in brush, I start with the Hollow Belly,” he said. “But, if they are on the bottom, then the worm is the best setup for the job.”

Equipment and Retrieve
He tosses his swimbait on a 7’6″ medium-heavy 13 Fishing Envy Black rod that he pairs with an Abu Garcia Revo Premier casting reel and 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line. He rigs his Hollow Belly swimbait by Super gluing it to a 3/4-ounce fish shaped jighead that he pours himself. “If I see the fish up off the bottom, then I try and count the lure down to the level of the fish and begin a slow roll type retrieve,” he said. “It is really important to keep the lure at the level of the fish, because otherwise, they don’t bite.”

He revealed that he usually attracts strikes from some of the better quality fish in a school when he presents his swimbait in this manner. he also felt that the reason is the profile of the Hollow Belly gives it an appeal to larger than average bass.

If he locates bass and they are settled onto the bottom, or are at the base of the brush, he turns to a 7’3″ heavy action 13 fishing Envy Black rod, 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and a 6.4:1 Revo Premier.

Depending on the type of structure the fish are positioned on, he will choose either a 5/16 or 3/8-ounce sinker for his worm. “If they are on rockpiles or brush, then I choose a lighter sinker and work the worm up the cover,” he said. “That keeps the lure from hanging up.” He said on bare points or ledge edges with minimal cover, he opts for the heavier sinker and uses the rod tip to drag the bait, keeping contact with the bottom.”

Choosing Colors
In each technique, Blaylock has two colors that he relies on. With the Hollow Belly, he chooses the Gizzard Shad color if the water is fairly clear. But, if there is some stain to the water, he turns to the Tennessee Shad version.

He also bases his color choice for the worm on the water clarity. If he has clearer water; like his home lakes of Arkansas, he chooses the Red Bug color, but if there is some stain to the water; like on TVA lakes like Kentucky Lake or Guntersville, he prefers to use the Plum colored worm.

Important Considerations
Blaylock was quick to remind anglers to pay attention to the things they see on their screens. “I cannot fish offshore without my Lowrance HDS units,” he said. “They tell me everything I need to know about presenting the lures I need to present to the fish.

“They also tell me how I need to present them based on where the fish are positioned. Pay attention to your electronics, and if you have Down Scan and Structure Scan, learn how to use them,” he said. “These techniques have produced for me on many occasions, and I would bet money that I’ll be using them at Kentucky Lake in a couple weeks when we go there.”