THE DUCKETT EXCHANGE: EARLY CLASSIC REFLECTIONS
Story by Boyd Duckett
It’s time for the Bassmaster Classic. I’ll have a little better feel in a few days for Lake Conroe and how this event could play out - after we’ve spent some time practicing.
But I have to admit that I feel good about the first two Elite Series events. I’m not sure that two good finishes and a No. 6 spot – early, real early – in Angler of the Year points means anything when it comes to how well I’ll perform at the Classic. But, as I said, it feels good to start the season well.
A similar thing happened in both events. I had a terrible first day and really good second and third days, good enough for 20th place at Cherokee and 19th at Okeechobee. I was pretty confident that I would do well at Cherokee, but I had no idea that I would finish that high at Okeechobee. In fact, I wrote a column before Okeechobee that discussed my unfortunate past in Florida.
But in both events, even when I was way down in the bottom half of the leader board after the first day, I felt that I’d figured out how to catch them. Okeechobee was particularly interesting. As usual, even though the lake covers more than 450,000 acres, there are only a few places that our anglers fish. Where I was, in Fisheating Bay, there were probably 70 Elite Series boats and another 50 anglers that weren’t fishing the tournament. But I found a pocket. It was actually similar to the place Timmy Horton fished the first couple of days when he got such a big lead.
The productive area is maybe two miles long and 100 yards wide. I knew I had the smallmouth bite. My mistake, if that’s what it was, was that I went up the river and largemouth fished the first day. I stayed with that plan too long.
That brings me to what I’m trying to do differently this year. I’ll be aggressive early, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’m ok with starting slow. What I’ve done differently this go-round is to avoid spending all day on Friday trying to catch a big bag to get back what I missed out on the first day. This year, I’m determined to still be aggressive, but be smart. I’ll take what I can get on Day 2 and make up as many places as possible on Day 2.
It just so happens that when I took that approach at Cherokee and Okeechobee, I started catching bigger fish and moved up and up.
Now, back to next week’s Classic. The only thing the first two events have done for me is give me a shot of confidence that I’ve been making good decisions. It means nothing practical when it comes to the Classic. This is 25 pounds a day or bust.
For what it’s worth, I was thinking this was going to be a fishing tournament, not a spawning event. I would rather it be a spawn tournament, because I think it would help me.
But again, we’ll know in a couple days. More to come.