Boyd Duckett – Classic Prep and More

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DuckettBlogLike fifty-two other anglers, I’m getting ready for the Bassmaster Classic. In fact, this time of year it’s hard to concentrate on much other than the Classic and the start of the Elite Series season.

There is a lot to do. You’re wrapping up sponsor contracts, getting your truck and boat ready, buying and organizing gear and meeting appearance obligations. But that’s the life what we have to do this time of year; it’s the personal/business side of competing.

And like almost every other Classic competitor, I’ve spent time on Grand Lake getting a feel for the water. Even though we know the lake is going to feel entirely different in late February than it did before our cutoff date, we check it out first-hand anyway.

The equally important pre-Classic work is the mental preparation. Studying is an element of that. Eliminating distractions is another. Obviously, I’ve done my research on Grand Lake. I’ve talked to people in the context that we can. I’ve learned the lake. Like every other angler, I’ve dialed in what I think should be the primary patterns.

One reason there’s never a great home-field advantage at the Classic is that everybody has a chance to get at-home with Classic water. I know people think Jason Christie has a big, home-field advantage, but I don’t think that’s quite as important in this event as people think. There’s a reason home-state guys usually don’t win the Classic. It’s because there are too many other great anglers that have time to learn the water.

If it were an Elite Series event, Jason would be the odds-on favorite. But this is the Classic. It’s different. Jason might win, but I also wouldn’t bet against Kevin VanDam or Skeet Reese or Mike Iaconelli or Edwin Evers Tommy Biffle, or several other guys for that matter. They have time to get ready and nullify the home-field advantage.

Before I talk a little more about the Classic, let me tell you about what I’ll be doing with the next few Duckett Exchange columns. I’ve thought about this for a few months. I’m going to announce – at least I’m almost sure I’m going to say – what my goals will be for 2013. And I’ll write tournament-by-tournament about whether I’m on track.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the great feedback I’ve gotten to what I did for the past year and a half with the “Duckett Comeback Tour.” It was all about what it took to come from what I considered my personal low, the 2011 season, to getting back into the hunt. I went from 84th in angler-of-the-year points to a spot in the Classic.

Now I’ve got to take it to another level, and I’m going to do that with something I will call the 2013 “Saturday Scorecard.” I promise I’ll explain that next time. I’m still working out the all the details in my head.

But in a nutshell, I’ll write about the next step in the personal, competitive fishing journey. I’ve had a lot of anglers tell me how much it helped them to see what struggles I went through in 2011 and the steps I took to work through them.

I hope this will help other anglers, too.
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But, for now, back to the Classic. I’m just happy to be there, as they say. The Classic is the first of two seasons. Season 1 is the Classic itself. Season 2 is the Elite Series that follows it. I could also probably say there is a third season: Major League Fishing.

I mentioned the psychological preparation involved in getting ready for a season. And I was talking with Kelly Jordon the other day about what anglers generally, and I particularly, have to do to get ready for the season.

I’m sure Kelly’s working on what he needs to do to get back on track after what was a sub-par year for him. Kelly is one of several great anglers – Timmy Horton and Gary Klein are a couple of others that come to mind – that are used to being in the Classic, but they won’t be this year. They’re all figuring out what they learned last year that will get them back to the Classic in 2014.

I was telling Kelly that, for me, the biggest thing I’ve got to watch out for this year is the frustration issue. Eliminating frustration is probably my No. 1 issue. How do you turn an 88th place on Thursday into a 60th place on Friday? Last year, I got into the Classic because I won the last event of the year, at Oneida. In the overall standings, I was just a couple of points out. Think about that. Another point here or there, and I wouldn’t have needed to win the last event.

If I had turned a 95th place finish at Toledo Bend into a 75th place, I wouldn’t have had to sweat out the last event the way I did. Just a little less frustration on one day at one event would have saved a lot of heartache, and I know I’m not alone on that. Probably a quarter of the field could say the same thing. It’s a frustrating business.

So as I set the specific goals for 2013, I promise you that the top priority when it comes to psychological goals will be to stay focused – and eliminate frustration.

One last thing. I announced on Bass Talk Live this week that Duckett Fishing is getting a new home. We’re moving to Guntersville, Alabama.

Before the year’s out I’ll be saying good-bye to more than two decades of good memories in Demopolis and setting up shop in one of the great fishing communities in the county, Guntersville.

I’ll miss Demopolis, but I’m excited about this new chapter.