Blog calendar: August 27 | August 25 | August 23 | August 14 | August 11 | July 23 |July 20 | July 19 | July 11 | June 24 | June 23 | June 22 | June 21 | June 19 | June 15 | June 14 | June 10 | June 9
It's the morning after a big victory in honor of Ray Scott
It's Monday morning. I'm back in Alabama after a hectic week in Arkansas. But to say it was worth it would be an understatement.
I enjoyed the heck out of my week at Lake Dardanelle, and I couldn't be happier to win the tournament that honors Ray Scott. I've been a member of BASS since 1971, and I'm pretty sure all of us who have been around for a few years understand that this playground we're competing on now is here because of the ideas and the work of Ray Scott.
Overall, I couldn't be happier. It was a tough tournament. Challenging from start to finish. Below this you'll find the button that kicks of about a five-minute audio blog. It goes into what I was doing the last part of the tournament. I hope you enjoy it.
Legends I'm Headed into Day 3
Well, I'm heading into Day three at the Legends tournament, which is a Six hole format. It will be really different to have to move from hole to hole on a short time clock, but I'm really excited about the next two (hopefully) days of the Legends tournament.
Click on the audio button below to listen to my thoughts going into Day Three.
A Major fishing challenge: find 'em in 100-degree weather
The Bassmaster Legends. This is quite a challenge. You find out for sure that fishing is an athletic sport when you spend 12 hours on the water in about 100-degree weather. It gets rough, especially toward the end of the day.
I'm not too familiar with this lake, so I'm trying to work my way through this. This is the first day of the tournament and I had a decent day. I'm in 11th place.
A few words about intuition and a few about Skeet and Kevin
I just finished up at the Potomac River. It was a fantastic tournament.
I know I mentioned in this blog how the practices were tough. Well, in the end it was one of those events you really appreciate. There was just not a lot to work with, but I was able to hold my place. I moved up every day and finished seventh. I'm pleased no end, having found so few fish in practice.
The reason I'm happy about that is that I maximized what I learned. I fished open-minded. I think I fished as well in the Potomac as I did in the Classic, and I won the Classic. But as far as doing my best, I think this was just as good.
I won the Classic because I was on more fish, but also because I remained calm, went through the event and opened myself up The reason I say that is that I made adjustments every hour every day. I remained open-minded. Received intuition. We all have a natural intuition. And I honestly believe that when you fish, if you'll just listen to that intuition you'll do well. I call it listening to the fish. They'll give you indicators. Listen and you get into a zone. Do the best with what you've got to work with. And that's the way the Potomac went.
I guess that's one of the things I wanted to talk about and take away from the Potomac event. I need to learn from this event. In a lot of my Elite Series events I've pressed. I've pushed harder because of this league. I've bowed to that pressure. I go out and I want a tournament plan. I want to follow it.
But it just doesn't always work that way.
Some of the top fishermen, they listen and bend. I watched Skeet Reese fish, and he won the tournament. But he's fished well all season. Ninety percent of the events he goes into, he has tremendous confidence and knows he's going to catch them. He's the best bass fisherman in the business right now.
Kevin VanDam is the same way. Year in and year out, he does the same thing. And even at this level, I believe that's what makes the difference in those top eight or ten guys. Event after event, some guys are in it. It's not skill level, it's mind level. These guys stay calm and open-minded, they don't bow to pressure.
A couple of times I finished well this year, but I didn't maximize my potential. It's not a matter of where you finish. It's a matter of taking what you have to work with and being calm. You maximize what you work with. I get myself in that position.
That's what I'm going to strive to do more of. I've got two more events this year. One of them is the major at Darnenelle. My performance in the Majors has not been good. I haven't focused. It's been completely the opposite of what I had happen. Maybe I can to go Dardenelle next week, open my mind up and get the job done.
Capitol Clash: A good second day, I'm happy
I've been away from the blog for a few days, so I need to point out that my practices before this tournament, the Capitol Clash on the Potomac River, were awful. But I wasn't alone. Almost everybody was complaining.
So I've been real surprised and happy at the way this tournament has gone so far. After the second day I'm in 21st place. That may not sound great, but trust me - I'll take it.
Erie final No. 6 is a good thing!
I'm feeling pretty good right now. Just finished the final round of the Empire Chase on Lake Erie, and I wound up in sixth place. I'm happy with another top 12 finish. I started the day in tenth place, got a bag of just over 20 pounds and wound up sixth.
Edwin Evers won. Nobody could catch him. I thought there might be some luck involved in this one, because most of us were generally fishing the same way. But Edwin led every day, and that does not sound much like luck.
Lake Erie is a fantastic place to fish, one of the great smallmouth fisheries in the country. Lots of two- to four-pound fish. Really, there's probably not another place in the country like it for those kind of fish.
On Sunday, just like the first two days, I caught my fish in about 25 feet of water. Same strategy. And they just kept coming.
Now it's on to Syracuse and Lake Oneida for a major tournament. If you looked at this blog, you heard me whining about being sick last week. Well, I feel better, but now I'm just plain tired. I'm doing this blog while driving from Buffalo to Syracuse, where it will be up again early Monday morning to start getting ready for another tournament.
It's a good thing, but I am tired.
A good first day on a windy Lake Erie
Well, it was the first day of the Empire Chase tournament and it was a crazy day on an amazing lake. The wind made it hard to move, but I had a good day. I got 18-7.
As tough as it was, I hope we stay out there. I'm afraid they might decide that the wind is too dangerous and restrict us to the Niagara River. I don't think I'll do well if we have to fish the river, because I only spent about two hours practicing there.
A different kind of tournament, and thoughts about Tim Tucker
This tournament is different. I can't recall the last time, if ever, I've gone out to practice for a tournament and been able to see every other boat. That's almost the situation.
We're on Lake Erie and we're all doing about the same thing. We're hanging close enough in to the shore where our boats can get back. And we're all fishing on humps and ridges that we've found. Luck might have a lot to do with who wins this tournament.
After I called in to this blog and talked a little about the tournament, I called in again because I wanted to say that we're all sad about the death of Tim Tucker. He was a good outdoor writer, and was good for our sport. He was also nice to me, and we're going to miss him.
Audio on the tournament:
Audio on Tim Tucker:
About blogs and a busy schedule, and now I'm sick as a dog
Before I complain about my not-so-great week, I'd like to tell you that since I've been working on this blog I've tried to look a little bit at what other people are doing. There are some good blogs out there, but I wish there were more of them in the fishing world.
I like the way ESPN Outdoors is offering blogs. There are good ones on that site, and you've probably seen them. If you haven't seen my friend Angie Thompson's site, you might want to give that a try, because it's really interesting. She's a producer at JM Associates, a company that makes a lot of outdoor television for ESPN and others. Angie talks about what we do in the competitive fishing industry, and she does it from a front-row seat.
I had a few weeks that you'd think would be kind of quiet, but it seems like it's never quiet. I was extremely busy with Southern Tank Leasing, my business. (Yes, I know, that's a shameless plug.) I also have been moving. And that doesn't leave a lot of time for fishing.
So, needless to say, after a busy couple of weeks it was important for me to get back focusing for my "real" business: fishing the Elite Series tour. Although it was going to be a little late, my plan was to start late last week fully concentrating on the next Elite Series stop: the Champion's Choice on Lake Champlain, in upstate New York.
But sometimes plans don't work. I got some kind of flu virus last week, and it's really been working on me. I went to the doctor and got antibiotics, but it's difficult to get back on top of things when you have to run as hard as we run during these tournaments. We're always on the go, and we don't get much sleep.
Well, all of that said, I've now completed two days of practice and I actually feel a little better. But not much, because the tournament starts on Thursday and I'm not finding many fish.
Maybe it'll get better tomorrow.
In that elite 12 at Grand Lake
Well folks, I had another good day on Day three at the Sooner Run, and I sure am glad to be in this picture of the twelve who will be fishin' on Sunday. I'm sittin' at number seven and sure hope to move up tomorrow. Really busy getting ready for tomorrow, so I'll try to add an audio or more details about my day three to this post a little later.
A good second day at Grand Lake, up to fourth
A good day, even though I had to go to backup plans. There was a lot of boat traffic on the points. Thursday I had them pretty much to myself.
But I'm in this thing, moved up to fourth with a big bag. Please check out this audio.
A good Day One at the Sooner
Grand Lake, Oklahoma. First day of competition, and it was a good one. Everything went my way. I had 17-7 and that put me tied for 15th, I think it was, with Davy Hite, another one of those South Carolina anglers.
There's a bunch of good ones from South Carolina. Davy's a good one, so is Jason Williamson, he's going to be tough. Marty Robinson had a 20-pound bag today. Casey Ashley won in Virginia. I probably missed somebody, but that state's putting out some guys that know how to catch fish.
But back to my catch. I would have thought 17-7 would be good enough for a top 5. There are just so many incredible anglers out here it seems almost impossible to get to the top. You have a great day and there are still some guys that did better. But that's just the way it goes, I guess. I just have to keep plugging and run a few of those good days together.
Although it shouldn't have been , it was surprising to me how well everybody caught them. I thought I was on a good pattern - and I really was. I did about as well as I could have expected. The cut is over 14 pounds. That's amazing.
The key is going to be going out and doing it all over again, get into Saturday and then see if you can get the big bite that will get you into the magic top 12 so you can get a little TV time.
What I'm going to do is go out and fish the deep water, throw the jig a lot and get on some secondary points. It's going to be interesting. Wish me luck.
I'm excited about this tournament and I need another good finish
I’m excited. We’re about to start on what I hope is another good one. Coming of a sixth place finish at Smith Mountain Lake, I really could use another top 12.
This is a great place, and I think there will be some good fish caught. My friend, Jeremy Starks, was telling me a little while ago that he thinks that 11 and 12 pounds won’t be nearly good enough. I agree with him. Fifteen or better would be more like it.
I’m going to start in shallow water early. That will be sort of a warmup. Then I’m going to some points and hopefully catch a few bigger fish in the deep water. … Wish me luck.
On this audio clip, I talk a little more about the strategy.
Grand Lake, eastern Oklahoma, looks a lot like Alabama
But, boy, there are a lot of fish. They’re everywhere, so the key is to find the right spots to get the size you need.
One other thing, I’m still learning about the best ways to deal with the blog. I’ve noticed some questions are coming in. If they’re quick answers, I’ll try to respond right in the comments box. Other questions require some thought and maybe a lengthier opinion. I might not get to those right away.
Anway, here are a few thoughts about what I’ve seen so far.
A question answered and a look at the schedule
I want to thank you for responding to these blogs. Wheeler Bros. asked what bait I was using when I was fishing the deep water at Smith Mountain Lake.
It was a Berkeley 6-inch hand-pour finesse worm, a red crawler. It worked good. I would recommend it.
I spent a little time making this audio that talks about the lakes we'll be fishing on the Elite Series tour in 2008. Mainly I just ramble about what I know about the kind of fishing they offer.
I will say that they've chosen some great places to fish. It's going to be a good season, I think.
Big announcements in the competitive fishing world
I've had a few days now to recover from our tournament at Smith Mountain Lake, where I finished sixth.
Although I've been trying to take care of some other business, we did have some big news this week in our world. ESPN and BASS announced the 2008 schedule. They also announced some other changes that we're going to be living with, and some of them are real good. Others are not so good for the anglers, but that's part of the business.
We had a chance to have a conference call with the folks that operate our tournaments. All of the anglers had a chance to get in on the calls, and it was a good opportunity for us to hear them and for them to hear some of our concerns and questions.
I talk a little bit about the conference call on this audio clip. I'll put in another blog entry, hopefully tomorrow, that talks about some of the places we'll be fishing.
Sixth place for me; first place for a friend, Casey Ashley
We finished the Elite Series tournament at Smith Mountain Lake yesterday. I was sixth. And, believe me, I'm happy with that. If I can fish against the best in the business and come away from one of these tournaments with a top 12 finish, I'm good with that.
But I got a bonus. Casey Ashley won, and I almost feel like that was a victory for me. I've known Casey pretty well for the the past couple of years. He's a good young man and a good angler.
I talk a little on this audio blog about my recent history with Casey and with Jeremy Starks and Jason Williamson, another couple of really strong, young anglers.
I'm fishin' on Sunday at Smith Mountain
Today, on day three of the tournament, I decided to fish the deep water to go for a big win, but the bites just weren't there. I wound up with 7 lbs 11 oz. and it put me in a six pound deficit to the leader Casey Ashley.
Here is an audio report of my Day three at Smith Mountain
TOMORROW is another day.
Good but not as good as Casey Ashley
It's Day 2. Smith Mountain Lake. I had another good day today, but not as good as Casey Ashley, who pulled in 22 pounds and he's right there. But I feel good.
I had a fantatic day yesterday. Caught 19 pounds. I dropped a little today, down to a little over 14 pounds. I'm still in the lead, even though I lost my margin some.
But I'm really proud, because on Day One I caught most of them in deep water, about 19-20 feet of water. And mostly around mid-day. I didn't get the early bites the way a lot of the guys did.
Today I didn't get the deep bites. They did not pull water. As a result, I wasn't able to pull them on the deep humps. So I went to Plan B. I went up on some shallow bars. Back in some creeks. On Boat docks. All of my shallow water plans, I went to them.
I sort of ran back and forth between deep and shallow, hoping to get a few deep bites. But you're going to have days like this up here, especially this time of year. The fish are here today, gone tomorrow. I'm just happy I was able to recover.
Plans for tomorrow? My hands are in the air. My mind's open. I'm leading by 13 ounces. I don't want to make mistakes.
I'm hoping my deep fish will come back. And I certainly intend to fish for them.
Maybe we can put together another 14 or 15 pounds tomorrow.
But overall, I'm having a fantastic time. What can I say?
I've been waiting to say this: I'm leading
I'm at Smith Mountain Lake, I just got off the water. And this a blog I've been wanting to leave all season. I had a huge day today, and I'm leading the tournament. Obviously, I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Please click on the audio link, and give me the honor of telling you about the first day of the Blue Ridge Brawl.
It's pretty up here, but that won't help us catch fish
We're at Smith Mountain Lake, a beautiful place for an Elite Series major. There are mountains in the background, good scenery all around. Unfortunately, it's going to be a tough place to catch fish. Days and nights have different personalities.
Next up: Smith Mountain Lake, a deep, clear lake
After spending a busy Memorial Day participating in the Ultimate Match Fishing event, I'm recovering. I've got a lot of things going on with my business, which is called Southern Tank Leasing. But as far as fishing goes, I've got to spend a few days resting up.
So I'll be doing some work to do in my office today, then start packing again. We're going to Smith Mountain Lake, close to Roanoke, Va. a deep clear lake, sort of a mountain lake, definitely a highland lake.
This is an Elite Series event, the Blue Ridge Brawl. And I need to do well. I've moved into the 50s in points. I had such a tough start. I started with two really bad events. But my goal, just like everybody else, is to get back into the top 36. That's the magic mark to get an automatic qualification to the Bassmaster Classic. I've got an exemption this year because I won the Classic. But I don't want to burn that exemption. I'd like to get back inside that top 36 and earn a spot through the points system. That's my goal.
So I need to have some good events, make some cuts, and not burn that exemption.
I'll tell you, though, Smith Mountain in June doesn't promise a lot of big bites. I think there some be some deep bites, some drop shots, and shaky head. I also think there will be some smallmouths. There could be a top water bite or two if you get on a ridge.
But I just don't expect the lake to produce a lot of big weights. I'm guessing, from research on the Internet, that 10 pounds a day will put you in the running. Again, I'm just guessing, but it appears 8 or 10 pounds a day could put you in the running.
Another option is to go way up the river and do some river fishing. Fish aren't as big up there, but there will be chances to get some keepers. So I might go after that. We've just got two days to practice, so I'll probably go up the river during that time and see what it looks like.
Those are my two strategies.
A third pattern that's fairly obvious is fishing the boat docks for largemouth. That's how a lot of tournaments are won. But those spots are limited and there are 108 of the best fishermen in the world. So I'm probably not going to fight for that handful of good boat docks.
We'll see what happens.
A busy week, including some match fishing
I hope everybody had a good memorial day. Boy, I had a busy one. I was on Kentucky Lake to fish the final rounds of the Ultimate Match Fishing tournament. What a fantastic event and great format. Don't know if you've seen that, but it's really interesting. I'm competing as part of the event that happens after the one that's on television now.
The first round for us was at Lake Guntersville and the final rounds were the past few days at Kentucky Lake. There were 12 of the best anglers in the business there, and it was fun getting to compete in that event.
It's a really interesting format. Two guys in a boat. They divide the event into four quarters, and one person controls the boat for two of the four quarters. The other person gets control the other two. And you have a referee.
Needless to say, the rules are different than our standard BASS competition rules. For one thing, there's a line painted in the center of the boat, and that line extends to infinity. And you're in the rear of the boat for two quarters, either the first and third or second and fourth. There's a lot of mental strategy that goes into the match events.
It's completely different from our bass tournaments when we have eight or nine hours to fish, and you can go at your own pace. During our tournaments, if you get on to something good, you have time to work it, stay with it. Not here.
When you're in the back of the boat, you'd be surprised how far backward you have to cast to avoid a penalty. And a penalty is 2/10 of a pound. That's big.
If your competitor is savvy on which holes he's fishing, he can back you into a position where you've got almost no water to fish in.
Basically you sit out those two quarters. The quarters are two hours long, so in that two hours of fishing time, the defensive fishing really comes into play. You have to pick areas where you hope you can catch fish, but you have to see to it that your opponent can't. That part's really interesting.
It's one of the highest pressure events I've ever been in.
The season starts in July and it'll air all the way through December. With 12 of the top anglers in the world, I think you'll enjoy seeing how it unfolds.
Anyway, got through with that and came back to my office to get a little bit of work done before we start packing again. In a few days we're off to Smith Mountain Lake near Roanoke, Virginia, for the Blue Ridge Brawl. That's our next Elite Series tournament.
It's a good clear water lake. Should be fun.
Zero fish - couldn't happen, could it?
I'm at High Rock Lake near Greensboro for the first major tournament of the year - the Bassmaster American. And let me start by saying my practice days were horrible. I never got on anything that was working. I didn't get enough bites to establish any kind of pattern, and when you don't see a pattern the only thing you have to go on is where the fish should be this time of the year.
So I made the decision to fish out in the main lake most of the day, and I didn't catch a single fish that was longer than the 14-inch minimum. Zero. It was a really a discouraging day. It's the first time I've ever walked across a Bassmaster stage with nothing to show.
The tournament is over for me. It's done, and I've got nothing to show for it.
It's tough when you're a competitor and you want to win. I had to be around people I've competed with and against. They know I've had some success. I won the Bassmaster Classic this year, and that was coming off a decent year last year.
Walking across that stage today with nothing to show was one of the toughest things I've ever done. But I did the only thing I felt like I could do. I went to the stage for the weigh-in and had my head up high. I stood up for my sponsors, and I tried to take it the best I could.
So that's the news. It was a hard day. Somehow now I've got to put it behind me and get enough confidence to go out there and see if I can make something positive happen and get back in it.
As far as what to do, I have no idea. I'll probably start further back in the creeks and see what happens. That's where most of the guys that caught them were. The main lakes didn't work, and the few guys that were out there on the main lakes with me died with me.
Chalk it up to experience. But what a tough day.
Fishing (and playing) in Las Vegas
I probably should type this thing in full, but it's easier for me to give you an audio report of my trip to Las Vegas. That's a whole different world from fishing on a quiet southern lake. I went out there for a short business trip. I played a little blackjack with my little bit of fishing money, and it was fun. But, I'm telling you, there are a lot of people from all over the world with a lot of money - and I don't know where they get it.
But to be honest, after I got back home to Alabama I took a trip I liked better. I went to Tommy Wilcox's Sweet Apple Farms and did one of Tommy's outdoors shows. That's some place. There's a lot of lakes and a lot of fish, especially bass.
This weekend it's off to the Bassmaster American, which is a major up near Greensboro, North Carolina. Looking forward to it. You can hear about these things by clicking on to this audio report.
A week off well, not exactly
I'm not asking anybody to feel sorry for me. I know better than that. But sometimes there are so many obligations and so much travel when you're on a professional fishing tour, and the pace is so hectic, that I just get tired. And that's what I am right now. Tired.
But I've had a fun week so far. I was involved in a real competitive match fishing event. I made this recording about what's going on.
Didn't get the big bites at Guntersville
Sorry this is on the site a little late. Technical difficulties. But I wanted to put this audio on that I made at the end of the tournament at Guntersville.
Fishing in Alabama, my home state, I wanted a top 12 finish. I didn't get it. I fished the main river most of Saturday, but I never got the big bites I needed. In retrospect, I might have done some things differently.
A Big Bite at Guntersville on Day One
I wanted to sight fish all day. But we had cloud cover and wind, and if you've ever sight fished you know that two things you don't want are cloud cover and wind. But I gave it a shot and even caught a limit. Then I went out to the river ledges and I brought in a 7 pound, 15 ounce Purolator Big Bass. Click below to hear about my day on Guntersville lake.
They cancelled today's competition and this could help
Well, I'm at Lake Guntersville, back in my home state of Alabama where I actually know how to catch a fish. It's competition day and here I am working on a blog. Not what you'd expect.
B.A.S.S. actually cancelled today's competition. They felt there was some life-threatening weather here, so instead of fishing we've got a day to relax and get our tackles ready for tomorrow.
This could work to my benefit, because my plan for this tournament is to sight fish for spawning bass. They make a spawning bed on the river bank. And like I've mentioned before, you first have to see them. Then you have to go in there and watch them, and then react to what they do. It can take, gosh, up to an hour before they bite.
The way to ordinarily fish this lake is to fish the river ledges. And if I have to, I'll do some of that. But I hope to be able to sight fish.
It's been a strange spring. It was cold until late in the spring and, for whatever reason, the milfoil - the grass that's predominant around here - just hasn't grown. It's low out in the water and I guess that's why the river bites are scarce. … Now if you get bit, it's a good one. But those bites are few and far between.
I've got a couple of places on the main river that I'm gonna look at, but my play is to sight fish. I just don't think I can catch a limit out there on the river.
But, hey, we'll see how it goes.
Chatting about a lost opportunity
I couldn't believe I didn't make the cut at Clarks Hill. That's my kind of lake. I caught more than 13 pounds the second day, and that should have been good enough. But it wasn't. And I wasn't the only one on the sidelines. There were some real good anglers that didn't make it. I was still a little shocked when I made the video that you can see by clicking on the following link:
To watch the video, visit www.boydduckett.com
Clarks Hill aftermath - a good day, but
Well, I'm having to say it again. It's not what I was hoping for.
I had a real tough first day, and a great second day. When I came in to weigh my fish, I thought I'd made the cut, but in in the end it wasn't enough. I lost a couple of big ones I should have had. But even with what I had - 13 pounds, 5 ounces - I would have been in great shape if I hadn't had such a bad first day.
This lake was fishing tough. Two weeks ago there was some cold weather and things changed. Normally, fish should be schooling everywhere on those points, but they're not. That's why so many guys are struggling.
I found a few good areas today, and I was really looking forward to making the cut and fishing on Saturday, because I thought I had figured some things out. But it didn't happen.
I need to have a few top twelves.