DUCKETT LEADS ON THE DELAWARE
Story by Matt Pangrac – Photos by Dave Rush
PHILADELPHIA, PA – After a miserable start to the 2014 Elite Series season that found him mired in 95th place in the Toyota Angler Of the Year standings after five regular season tournaments, Alabama’s Boyd Duckett showed signs of life at BASSFest on Lake Chickamauga this past June when he finished in 22nd Place and cashed a check for the first time this season.
The 2007 Bassmaster Classic Champion apparently captured that momentum in a bottle and brought it with him to the stingy Delaware River this week, where he lapped the field on the first day of competition with a limit of largemouth weighing 16-14.
On a day when just 11 out of 106 competitors managed to crack the 10-pound mark, Duckett’s limit in the mid teens put him comfortably in the tournament lead by 4-12 over his closest pursuer, Japan’s Morizo Shimizu.
Hometown favorite, Mike Iaconelli, didn’t disappoint the crowd but now has a lot of work to do in order to remain within striking distance of the red hot Duckett. With a limit weighing 9-2, Ike finished the day in a tie for 21st place.
James Elam got off to the best start of his Elite Series career, landing in 3rd place after weighing in a 11-12 limit, and Kevin Short finished in 4th with 11-6.
Oklahoma’s Fred Roumbanis rounded out the Top 5 with a limit weighing 11-5.
If Duckett’s 16-14 limit was a surprise, the short list of anglers who failed to weigh-in on Thursday was just as surprising. Six anglers zeroed, including both Jonathon and Kevin VanDam. In total, 26 anglers either blanked or brought just a single bass to the weigh-in.
As expected, it didn’t take much weight to finish inside the Top 50. With four bass weighing 5-14, Bernie Schultz will enter cut day in 50th place. Friday could get interesting, as 50th and 90th place are separated by just 4-2.
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (Stop #6)
Location: Delaware River – Philadelphia, PA
Day One Leader: Boyd Duckett (16-14)
50th Place: Bernie Schultz (5-14)
Total weight separating 1st from 12th: 7-0
1st Place: Boyd Duckett (16-14)
Duckett on his mindset entering the tournament:
“I’ve been through so many cycles fishing with my schedule, that I’ve done this before. It’s hard to give 100% to everything that you do, and I had four really bad events to start this season. Before Chickamauga, I really started focusing hard again on my bass fishing and I had a good tournament there. I had some bad luck happen to me there, but the main point is that I was able to put some good days together (on Chickamauga), and maybe I’ll be able to put some good days together here.”
Duckett on his overall day on Thursday:
“I’m fishing for bigger fish. I found a couple of deals that seem to work a little better to get a bigger bite, but it’s hard to get a bite anyway. I’m throwing some stuff that will help catch bigger fish, and I’m running a bunch of stuff with no guarantee that I’ll get five bites in a day.
“I had six bites today and culled once. After I caught my sixth one, I ran new water looking for some more stuff for tomorrow because I felt like I had a pretty good bag and I didn’t want to burn what few waypoints I had left. I caught some 3- and 4-pounders in practice, so I knew that this was a possibility.”
Duckett on his level of confidence heading into the day:
“I hadn’t caught very many (in practice), so it would be easy for me to come up with three or four bass. In my opinion, there are a low number of bass here but they’re not hard to catch once you get around them. I think that some of the guys have underestimated that, and they’re fishing small stuff. When you finally get around one, they’re pretty easy to catch.”
Duckett on his ability to repeat his Day One performance:
“I don’t really know. My first day of practice was really good because I caught a couple big fish and shook some other bites off. My second day of practice was bad and I only had three bites all day, and I had six or seven bites on the third day. It’s just unpredictable out here. I would say that I’m fishing a pattern but there are certain little areas where the fish want to be.”
Duckett on the significance of his 4+ pound lead on a tough fishery:
“I guess that it’s a pretty good lead here. The funny thing is that I live on Guntersville, and I’m used to swinging 3- and 4-pounders in the boat all the time. My marshal today is from this area, and he was freaking out when I was swinging those fish in today. That caused me to slow down a little bit and realize that maybe this river doesn’t have that many big fish in it. To tell you the truth, I thought that we’d see several 15-pound bags today.”
Duckett on his key moment of the day:
“I had five fish and I had a 2-pounder that I wanted to cull. I had one maul my bait and I missed it. I finally got that sixth bite and it was a 3 ½-pounder. That was a big moment because I knew at that point I had about all the river was going to put out in a day.”
2nd Place: Morizo Shimizu (12-2)
Shimizu on his overall day on Thursday:
“It was a tough day but I had a very good one hour in the middle of the day. I caught four big ones in only one hour and I was very much surprised. In practice, I only had two fish on the first day, zero on the second day, and two on the third day. I didn’t want to give up, because this is where Mike Iaconelli came from and he never gives up. Even though I had a tough practice, I never gave up.
“I had three really nice 3-pounders and two that were just OK.”
Shimizu on how he caught his limit on Thursday:
“I only had a few spots, but I went back to where I got bites in practice and believed in those areas today. I didn’t lose confidence in those areas but I wasn’t sure if I would catch anything. I caught four fish off of my primary area and then moved to my secondary area but didn’t catch any. When I returned to my first spot later in the day, I caught my fifth fish in the last hour. They were all largemouth.
“I used three different techniques during the day.”
Shimizu on his excitement level for Friday:
“I feel a little bit of everything. I’m nervous and excited, but it’s also a little scary.”
3rd Place: James Elam
Elam on his overall day on Thursday:
“I caught my fish between 10:00 AM and noon. This morning, I started on a place where I missed my first seven bites. They would take my bait and everything. I don’t know if that was seven different fish, but there were several fish there at least. I switched up baits but when the tide started coming up, they scattered.”
Elam on fishing an unfamiliar tidal fishery:
“There’s a massive tide swing here. There was one place today where I pulled up in the morning and saw the exact spot on the bottom where I ended up catch a fish later in the day when the tide was high. You can actually see stuff that’s out of the water on low tide and then come back on high tide and fish it.
“I really spent my practice trying to run things and figure out the little windows when the fish are biting. I tried to hit all those places in order and run the tide today. I did that, but I only got into two groups of fish out of like 10 places. The water color here and the river style fishing remind me a lot of mid August fishing on the Arkansas River back in Oklahoma. The big difference here is the tide.”
Elam on his plan for Friday:
“I’m going to run the same pattern tomorrow, but I fished a lot of places today and didn’t get bit. I got bit there in practice, so I just don’t think that there are a lot of fish here. You can go through an area and go over the winning fish at the wrong time and not get bit.”
DAY ONE STANDINGS