Boyd Duckett – Introducing the Sunday Scorecard

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DuckettBlogHere’s the plan for 2014. And by plan, I mean my overall fishing plan AND my plan column-writing plan.

I’m going to be aggressive. That’s the fishing plan.

As far as this column goes, I’m going let you know what’s working on the water and what’s not. I hope I’ve done that in these columns and blogs for the past seven years, because I enjoy sharing thoughts that might help other anglers at all levels of skill and experience.

The reason I talk about my fishing and column writing in the same context is because, for me, they have been directly related during the past three years. If you look at my last three years, they went like this:

In 2011, I had the worst season of my fishing career. I finished 84th in BASS Angler of the Year points and missed the Bassmaster Classic by a country mile. It was awful.

In 2012, I changed things. I re-visited everything I was doing as an angler. I got more organized and better prepared. I got most of my confidence back as a result and ended the season with a win at Oneida that got me into the Classic. Although I wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be, I made a lot of positive strides. My column that year was called The Duckett Comeback Tour.

In 2013, I wanted to establish better consistency, so I chose a strategy I didn’t really like – but I thought it would help me. It almost worked. I chose to fish conservatively. My goal was not to win events; it was to establish consistency by making the cut every week. That, I believed, would get me into the Classic with room to spare. My column was called the Saturday Scorecard, because I intended to be fishing every Saturday. I wrote about the season in scorecard style, rating my preparation, practice, execution and composure.

The Saturday Scorecard approach was a success, except for one thing. My train derailed during the last two events. I was almost a lock for the Classic, but I had two events at the end of the year where I missed the cut, and they cost me. I ended up two points – and ONE PLACE – out of the Classic.

The “scorecard” worked, though. So I’m not completely changing that. I’m just tweaking it a little.

This season my focus – as an angler and with this column – will be on making it to Sunday. I didn’t fish a single final day last season. This year, I want to change that.

You usually have to be aggressive to earn a spot on the final day of an Elite Series tournament. During a typical event, you can consistently finish in the 30’s and 40’s with a conservative game plan. But to make a Top 12, you’ve almost always got to take chances. You have to make some bold decisions.

This is about as simple as I can put it. If we go to a tournament and it’s going to take 30 pounds to earn a check (top half of the field) but 45 to 50 pounds to get into the Top 12, I’m going to take the risks and go for the Top 12. At one tournament, that might mean staying with a pattern longer than most anglers would; at another event, that could mean abandoning a plan quicker.

Whatever is the aggressive route, that will usually be Plan A.

Any angler that has ever fished a tournament knows what that approach means. First, it means you’ve got to have the patience and the guts to go for bigger fish. Second, it means you run the risk of not finding any big fish. You can wind up in the bottom 12 as easily as the top 12.

One last point. I don’t plan on being stupid.

Occasionally, conservative will be the best, maybe the only, way to go. In that case, I’ll be conservative. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it.

We’re about to start our season in South Georgia and Florida. I don’t have a great history in these places, so it’s possible that a conservative game plan is the only way to go in these first two events.

We’ll see in a few days.

As far as this column goes, it’s now called the Sunday Scorecard.

I’ll review the events and talk about whether they were successful or not.

Was the game plan good?

Was the execution good?

Did I keep my composure and fish the way I wanted?

What really happened out there?

That’s what I’ll write about this season. Welcome to the Sunday Scorecard.