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Searching for answers

5/27/2008

I wrote a blog earlier this season that mentioned how disappointed I was with my performance at the Classic. There were a lot of people counting on me to do well. A few people even picked me to win, which made me feel good in a way. But, I understood that was based on how strong I finished last season. Anybody in the business knows it's almost impossible to really predict who's going to win the Classic, because there are so many variables.

But it was nice in a way that people were confident I was going to do well. And when I didn't, other people were disappointed, but nobody was more disappointed that I was.

Then, unfortunately, the disappointments kept coming. I've had a couple of decent tournaments, but generally it's been a struggle so far. I was terrible in Florida — as I have been in Florida since 1982. Florida is my nemesis.

My best finish this season was the week before last at Lake Murray, but that was only 19th place. And I was disappointed with that, because I'm not fishing for 19th. I want to be in the Top 12 every week with a chance to win on Sunday — that's the goal.

So the season has been disappointing, and it's making me take a hard look at why. What am I doing that makes it look like the fishing gods are laughing at me? I keep coming back to one thing. For whatever reason, I'm finding that my intensity level is not as high as it needs to be. And so my confidence is not as high as it was at the end of last year. And those two things go hand-in-hand. You can't separate confidence and intensity.

I don't know how much this has to do with coming off a good season with a strong finish, then starting this season with a few bad events. I don't know whether it's in the stars or whether I'm psychologically not where I need to be, but some strange things have been happening. I'm so close all the time, but the big bites that were coming to me last year aren't working out this year.

At Lake Murray, I jumped a 4-pounder on Saturday. If I get that fish in the boat, I go from 19th place to at least fifth, and I'm in the game on Sunday with a chance to win. But the fish got off, so I'm back at 19th place. So, what if I come up to the end of the year and I miss the Classic by just a few points? I'll always think about that one fish that I was on but didn't catch. But you know, you can take that another way, too. If not for a handful of moments, my career would be different. Last year at the Classic, I was one bite away from a win and I caught a 6-pound, 9-ounce bass that changed my entire career. It works both ways.

This tournament fishing business is just a series of critical moments, and whether you can take advantage of those moments has a lot to do with whether you're a huge success or whether you have to keep looking up at a lot of other anglers. So right now, for me, I don't know if it's luck or karma or attitude, but the good things just haven't been happening. I know my confidence will be back where it needs to be soon, so I'm not worried. I just hate it when you have to fight through these things.

I watched my friend, Jason Williamson, who's a good young angler, catch some monster bags in Texas. He was fishing on Sunday at both Texas tournaments and had a good chance to win at Lake Amistad. Then at Lake Murray, he caught 20 pounds a day in practice. But he didn't catch 20 a day in the tournament at Murray because he got too conservative. He's from South Carolina, and he felt like he was sort of on his home water. He didn't want to swing for the fence because when you swing for the home run, it's possible to come up with nothing: it's hard to know what to do.

It's a psychological game, and you've got to take advantage of those critical moments.

For more information on 2007 Classic champion Boyd Duckett, visit his Web site.