Boyd Duckett – What I Have to do at Bull Shoals

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DuckettBlogHeading into our Elite Series tournament at Bull Shoals, I have set a goal that has nothing to do with how many pounds I catch or where I finish in the standings. Don’t get me wrong, I want to smash them, and I want to finish high.

But my goal at Bull Shoals has more to do with my mental game than anything specific that happens on the water. My goal is to fish strong and focused every competitive minute from the first cast to the last.

To a lot of people, that might not even seem like a goal, it probably seems more like what you would EXPECT a professional angler to do at every tournament. And yes, well, you would think so. But it doesn’t always happen. When it gets late into the afternoon, and you’re tired, and your brain might not be as sharp as it was early in the day, it’s easy to lose your drive. There are physical and mental hurdles you have to get past to be strong at the end of the day.

Let me be even more specific. When you’re having a tough day and you’re losing fish you should be catching, you get frustrated, and that frustration gets compounded late in the day. Frustration leads to mistakes. And when you make mistakes, you lose positive energy and you lose focus.

That happened to me in Florida during out first two Elite Series tournament, at the St. John’s River and Okeechobee. After a lifetime of frustration in Florida, I had put myself in position two weeks in a row to make the cut, which was my goal. Making the cut would have been big for me at those venues.

But during the final hour of both tournaments, I let the pressure and frustration of 30 years of Florida failure get into my head. And I fished those final hours in a funk. I lost focus, and I lost fish. Needless to say, I didn’t catch when I needed them most. The first week, as I finished the St. John’s tournament at a reed line on Lake George, I had seven bites during that last hour and caught one fish. That’s one out of seven. And that won’t get the job done at any level.

I’m surprised it happened. And I’m disappointed in myself. And I never thought I’d have to address this as a problem.

If you’ve been hearing me recently on talk shows or at seminars, or if you’ve seen some of the things I’ve written during the past nine months, you might know that I’m on what I call a “Comeback Tour.” I’m trying to bounce back from 2011, the worst year of my competitive life.

I’ve changed the way I approach tournaments, I’ve scaled down the amount of equipment I carry, I’ve practiced more, and I’ve made an effort to set realistic goals during the first part of the Elite Series season.

Everything seemed to be working. I had a good tournament at Fish & Chips late last year, and I battled Skeet Reese for the right to advance in Major League Fishing’s first event. And Skeet, if you’ve noticed, is on his game.

So I felt good in Florida. I felt good right up to the last hour when I let my goals fly out the window.

That’s unacceptable. So all I can do is set a new goal. At Bull Shoals, I vow to fish hard, fish smart and fish with intense focus until the last cast of every day.

NOTE: Boyd Duckett would like for you to check out his Facebook page, where he posts notes and recent columns. He will be writing updates from Bull Shoals on Advanced Angler and on his Facebook page