Ducket Perspective – Broken Record

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DuckettBlogby Boyd Duckett

When someone says the same thing over and over, people used to say that person sounds like a broken record.

If you’re too young to remember where that saying came from, here’s the deal. Back when we listened to vinyl records, the record player had a arm mechanical arm that held an attached needle. The needle connected with the spinning vinyl record to activate the sound. But if your album had a bad scratch or a tiny break, the needle would hit the broken part and not move past it. The arm and the needle would just keep bouncing in the same spot, which would make the record repeat the same phrase again and again and again.

If you were playing “Whiskey River,” by Willie Nelson and the needle hit a bad scratch right where the word “river” would have started, the record player would just say: Whiskey … Whiskey … Whiskey … an so on.

Well, I’m a broken record right now. Every event, my record says: Sucks….  Sucks…. Sucks.

That’s where the needle is stuck.

This was supposed to be a good year, because after a bad season three years ago, I felt I was pretty much back in a good groove. But it’s not happening.

I’ve had four straight difficult events. I’m in the bottom 10 percent of Angler-of-the-Year points, a place I’ve never been and never thought I’d ever see.

So, again, so far this season sucks, sucks, sucks.

*

A friend said to me the other day, “You’ve really had some bad breaks.” Then he asked me whether an angler gets on an unlucky streak, the same way he can get on a hot streak.

Well, my answer to that is no. I don’t think so. At least, I’ve never seen it.

I’ve seen anglers have bad streaks. Sometimes they last for years. But a bad streak is not an “unlucky” streak.

I should explain that a little more.

There’s no doubt an angler can get on a streak where it seems like everything he touches turns out wrong, and it looks as if all the breaks go the other way. In fact, I know that first-hand, because that’s what’s happening right now with my game. Nothing is going right, and everything I touch LOOKS like its bad luck.

With that said, I also definitely believe an angler can have a really unlucky tournament, where he’s maybe in the wrong place at the wrong time or his boat conks out or he’s not feeling well.

I’ll even say that maybe an angler can have two unlucky events in a row.

But two unlucky events in a row usually means four straight competitive days where everything goes wrong. The odds are against that.

If you have four straight unlucky day – and in my case, eight – it’s a pattern. That means something is off base.

*

Two weeks ago, after the third of my four lousy B.A.S.S. Elite Series finishes, I wrote that I wasn’t panicking. After all, in one event I actually found fish in Florida, which I had never done. So I still felt I was ok. Whatever was happening wasn’t so bad that it needed an overhaul.

And now, after four events, I’m still not in panic mode. But I sure as heck know that something went off the tracks somewhere with my fishing game. And while I won’t panic, I also won’t run from the truth, which is that four bad events is something worse than a run of bad luck.

Almost every competition day, I’m catching the limit, which should be a positive start. But I’m consistently not hitting on the right fish. Five fish at 11-8, which I did one day last week, is no good when the field is averages five at 13 pounds. A pound can be the difference in 30 places in the standings. A pound and a half could be 4o or more places.

So what do I need to do?

I wish I had a good answer. I’m looking at my research, my practice time, my choices on the water. I’m taking a hard look at all those tangible things, and I know I could do better in every area. So I have to ask myself, why is this happening?

*

Well, I’ve found one answer. It’s because I’m not Mark Davis.

Mark, who is leading our Toyota Angler-of-the-Year race by a mile, said something a couple of days ago that really got my attention. In fact, there’s a story on the Major League Fishing web site (http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=7459) about this.

Mark said he’s recommitted himself to fishing.

Mark Davis has around for a long time. He’s always really good, and a lot of years he’s great. He’s one of the best our sport has ever known.

He’s as consistent as the day is long, because he can fish in any conditions and still catch them. He can catch them on the docks, in the grass, on the ledges, in the timber, in the deep. And more than catch them, he can find them.

And he never leaves fish behind. When he goes into an area, he cleans it out.

You know, Greg Hackney fishes that way. He’s deliberate in his approach, and you really don’t want to be fishing behind him. Just like Mark Davis.

*

It absolutely made me think twice when Mark Davis said he recommitted himself to fishing this year.

He’s 50 years old and he’s won about everything you can win in our sport. But right now, after several mediocre years (by his standard), he’s barreling toward winning Angler-of-the-Year. He’s 42 points ahead of the field. Good luck to anybody trying to catch him.

And he said committed the key this year is that he vowed to study harder, work harder and not cut a single corner.

So when I look at my year, I know that I expected to have a good year. I expected to find them and catch them.

But what I didn’t do is vow to study harder, be smarter and outwork the field.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the difference in first place in the standings and where I sit, which is a long, long, long way from first place.