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Classic Champion Duckett Settles into Season

6/25/2007

While his ticket to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic already has been punched, reigning Classic champion Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., is not resting on his laurels. In fact, he's coming on strong.

With his eighth-place finish Sunday at the Bassmaster Elite Series' Sooner Run presented by Longhorn Tobacco on Oklahoma's Grand Lake, the pro has made two consecutive top-12 finals, including a sixth at Smith Mountain Lake.

"It's nice to get my head together and catch some fish for a change, huh?" he said, smiling.

Duckett had endured a slow start to his season. It began with a dismal 93rd-place showing at Lake Amistad, followed by 78th at the California Delta; then came 26th at Clear Lake, 58th at Clarks Hill and 33rd at Lake Guntersville. In two days of action at a Major in Greensboro, N.C., he failed to catch a keeper bass.

Duckett said he finally is settling into his role as an in-demand champion.

"I would have to think so," Duckett said. "I had so much stuff going on following the Classic with my business buyout and working on a divorce and buying a house. Not to mention winning the Classic and traveling so much.

"I had so much going on at the same time, I guess it just gets in your head. You just can't get settled."

These days, there are fewer demands on his time — and concentration — than at any point in 2007.

"I do feel a whole lot better," he said. "I've made two cuts in a row. The last couple of months have been real good for me.

"Just really being able to settle down and concentrate — just not feeling scattered. There's so much to think about that if anything else creeps in your mind these guys will beat you to death on this trail. They can catch them, by the way, if you haven't realized it."

Duckett was especially proud of his final-round catch this past weekend of 15 pounds, 10 ounces, which gave him a four-day total of 67-14.

"I had a good tournament going here, but in all honesty, I just ran out of fish," he said. "I had a great day today. I had 15 ½ pounds today, which doesn't sound impressive. But when you have absolutely nothing left and you scramble to catch 15 ½, that's a great day. I was proud of the fact that I fished all new stuff today."

With his newfound momentum, should those ahead of Duckett in the Classic standings be worried as the Elite Series enters the home stretch?

"You don't ever want to say that, but I do feel a whole lot better and I'm catching fish," said Duckett, who is 26th in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. "I've fished up North before so it's not completely strange to me. Never been to the Potomac, so I have to overcome that. It's hard to get on them in 2 ½ days on these places you haven't been."

FAMILY AFFAIR.

It was a McClelland family reunion of sorts at the Elite Series event on Grand Lake. The McClellands live about an hour away in northwest Arkansas, and they were well represented.

In addition to Elite Series pro (and defending tournament champion) Mike McClelland, his father, brother and two sons competed as co-anglers.

THEIR FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT.

They have to wear shades. In the case of the top three finishers in the recent Elite Series stop at Smith Mountain Lake, all are members of the Costa Del Mar pro team.

Casey Ashley, Terry Scroggins and Takahiro Omori sport Costa Del Mar's Triple Tail sunglasses with green mirror COSTA 580 lenses.

"We've had a lot of Elite pros switch to Costa's team this year," said Chas MacDonald, president of Costa Del Mar. "With each tournament, the stakes are higher and the pros want every advantage they can get."

TOYS, TOYS, TOYS.

Bassmaster Weekend Series angler Jay Ladner was at the forefront of Skeeter's "Boat Load of Toys" program that recently sent 300 new toys to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Ladner, of Kiln, Miss., donated more than 130 new toys and four bicycles.

"Following Hurricane Katrina, our family lost just about everything, and we had tremendous support from people throughout the country, many of whom we did not even know," Ladner said. "We wanted to give something back, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so."

HOTTEST RIG RUNNING.

Matthew Sphar of Pavilion, N.Y., won the Hottest Rig Running contest for Week 9 with 22.1 percent of the vote by Bassmaster Elite Series fans. North Carolina's Marty Stone and South Carolina's Ray Sedgwick were second and third, respectively.

Fans can vote for select Elite Series pros, including Sooner Run winner Kevin VanDam and Gerald Swindle, and pick their favorite boat wraps in Week 10. The creativity of the pros and their primary sponsors will be on display throughout the 11 Elite Series tournaments. See them at www.ESPNOutdoors.com/hottestrig.

Each week will feature a different group of anglers' boats for which fans can vote. Winners advance to the final round July 6-13. Second-place boats from weeks 1-10 will compete in a Second Chance Qualifier, getting a chance in Week 11 to win a spot in the final round. Voting is limited to one vote per person each week. The winner of the contest will receive $10,000 and will be awarded at the Bassmaster Memorial presented by Evan Williams Bourbon in Syracuse, N.Y.

WRAP RAP.

Fishermen are patriotic by nature, but Steve Daniel might be running the most patriotic boat in the Elite Series right now.

The veteran's Triton is wrapped in the red, white and blue, stars and stripers motif of the American flag, along with the name of his biggest sponsor — United Homebuilders.

"They built about 180 homes in south Florida in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area last year and the owner, Joe Sealey, loves to fish," Daniel said. "He and his wife have come to a couple of tournaments. He really thinks that this is a marketing tool that will help his business and almost any business that has a national market base.

"He has a unique situation. Most homebuilders in most towns rely on new industries and things moving in to bring new people to their area. But there are a lot of people moving to south Florida every day."

For more information, visit myunitedhomebuilders.com.

WEIRDEST CATCH.

During the recent Bassmaster Central Open on Louisiana's Red River, Brian Penso was flipping a hyacinth raft in an oxbow when his jig was engulfed. The Texas pro set the hook and watched as a water moccasin flew past his head.

When the snake landed in the boat, Penso quickly cut his line.

DID YOU KNOW?

With his finish at Grand Lake, Jeff Kriet has now made seven consecutive top-50 cuts and is one of only two anglers to cash a check at every Elite Series event this year. Jared Lintner is the other.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO...

Elite Series pro Kelly Jordon has been a professional angler all of his adult life. But there is one job he hopes he never has to do again.

"I was a mover," he told The Daily Oklahoman. "They would give you a big trailer and some jobs and you would go do them. Made about $100 bucks a day carrying stuff upstairs and downstairs. I never broke anything, so that was pretty good."

THEY SAID IT.

"I go fishing. There's always someone that wants to go out fishing or there's something to do with someone that involves going fishing. I really do love it. This is a sport that you can do your entire life. I hope I've got a lot of years left. I plan on fishing … well, for many, many more years." Elite Series pro Tommy Biffle, when asked by the Tulsa World newspaper what he does during his rare time off at his Wagoner, Okla., home.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

News exclusives, audio and video clips of bass fishing's biggest stars, loads of discounts and more are all part of BASS Insider, an exclusive membership, now available at www.bassmaster.com.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, staging more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages and sanctions bass fishing tournaments for every skill level culminating with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.