Boyd Duckett – Thoughts Before Guntersville Elite Series

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DuckettBlogWe’re heading into Week 2 of the BASS Elite Series, and I’m feeling pretty good about things. I finished 14th out of more than 100 of the best anglers in the world at the first event, and that’s a good thing.

The key phrase, though, is “at the FIRST EVENT.”

I don’t know why, but I’ve always seemed to be terrible at the first events of the season. I can come up with a lot of excuses for that, but in the end they’re just that: they’re excuses. Some years business operations have taken too much time. Other years I spent so much time getting ready for the Classic that I didn’t spend any time on Elite Series preparation. Last year, I was moving into a new house.

But as I mentioned, those are excuses as much as reasons. The bottom line is that most years I simply wasn’t prepared for the first event.

Fortunately, this year was different.

Our event was on the Sabine River system, and it’s a tough place to catch a bass. I prepared, though, and I pre-fished. I felt like I was ready. And my confidence was high coming off three good events at the end of 2014.

When I got to the Sabine, I didn’t gamble unnecessarily. I fished conservatively, stayed close to home base, and I moved up about 10 positions for three straight days, eventually almost making the top 12.

 

Now we’re coming home. The Elite Series is on Guntersville Lake this week. I live on Guntersville.

By my way of thinking, this will be two doses of good news and one of bad news.

One piece of good news is that, as I said, this is now my home water.

If there is bad news, however, it would be that I’ve only been living her for a little more than a year, and I don’t have as much of an advantage as you might think. I’d guess KVD has fished 50 tournaments on this lake. That’s certainly more than I have.

I’ve been here long enough to know that I could smoke them in the fall and winter. Spring might be a different story, because I haven’t done a lot of fishing this time of year.

I will say this, though, and this is the other good news: fishing in Alabama is better than fishing anywhere else.

 

In some ways, I believe it doesn’t really matter whether this week is at Guntersville or somewhere else. What matters is whether my head is back in the game.

It didn’t take a of insight to figure out in the middle of last year that what I was doing absolutely wasn’t working. I’ve talked a lot in these columns about the self-evaluation you have to do to get yourself back on track when things aren’t going well. You have to re-think how you’re approaching events. You have to focus on things like whether you’re putting in enough homework, whether you’re concentrating, whether you’re too tight, whether you’re wasting time either before or during events, whether your confidence is good or bad, and just generally whether your head is in the game. It’s a lot to consider.

I determined last year that my head wasn’t in the game. I wasn’t doing things drastically wrong, I just wasn’t approaching the sport the way Mark Davis was. Mark basically “rededicated” himself last year to competitive fishing. He started spending extra time to get things right – the way he used to do a few years ago when he was on top.

He got results.

I started taking Mark’s approach toward the end of last season. I cut out distractions and went extra steps in my preparation. As a result, I haven’t had a really bad tournament since midway through last season.

Here’s one final thing I did to prepare for Guntersville.

Since Guntersville is off limilts, last week I went to Nickajack Lake in Tennessee to fish. It’s the lake that I believe fishes the most like Guntersville.

The reason I did it is to start getting the right feel for Guntersville. I wanted to see I was reaching for during the day, to see what I feel like I need in the boat. I tried to do all the stuff that you do on Day 1 of practice.

I also wanted to start getting a feel for how long I’ll be staying with a plan before moving on to the next one. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Guntersville or the California Delta or the Potomac River, the million-dollar question is always: How long should I stay with my plan when it’s not working? When do I move on, in other words.

I wanted to get started thinking the way I’m going to need to think when get started on Guntersville.

Going to Nickajack was the right thing to do, and it was an example of the kind of preparation an angler has to do to win.

You never know. Even with all this preparation, I might still have a terrible tournament at Guntersville.

But I doubt it.