Duckett Perspective – Day 2 dilemma at Kentucky Lake

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DuckettBlogYou want to know how an Elite Series event really works? By that I mean, what actually happens out there when a bunch of great anglers try to catch fish from the same body of water?

First of all, let me state the obvious, which is the thing that DOESN’T happen.

This week the Elite Series is competing on Kentucky Lake, one of the largest surface area lakes in the continental U.S. But despite its humongous size, you DON’T have 125 anglers (which is the number we have in this event) fanning out across Kentucky Lake, with each angler staking his own personal fishing hole. That’s not the real world of competitive, high-stakes fishing.

The guys in this tournament are great anglers, and they know how to find the best places to fish. So it will come as no surprise that we often find the same productive spots. And the result of that is that in every tournament, every year, there are territorial disputes, because more than one angler – sometimes two, sometimes 10, sometimes even 20 – will want to fish the same specific piece of water.

Maybe it’s a run of shoreline. Maybe it’s a series of beds. Maybe it’s a rock ledge, which is what’s happening where I fished today.

 

Let me back up to say that this is the first day of the second half of our Elite Series season. It’s a big “momentum event” this week on Kentucky Lake. Every decision is critical.

I ended up today with 17 pounds, 3 ounces, which was good for 48th place out of 125 anglers. Not bad. Not great. The leader is nine pounds ahead of me.

The real story about today, though, is that I’m on a ledge upriver that seems to have plenty of fish. It could be a championship spot. The problem is that there are six of us fishing the same ledge. The other five anglers are Andy Montgomery, Brett Hite, Bobby Lane, Stetson Blaylock and Bernie Shultz. It’s a ledge that probably should service five, to be honest, but that’s ok. We figured out how to get along, even though at one point we were so close together I had to push my boat away from Bobby Lane’s, so he could reach in the water and grab a four-and-a-half-pound fish he caught.

Boyd Duckett Onstage at Guntersville - Photo by Dan O'Sullivan - AdvancedAngler

Boyd Duckett Onstage at Guntersville – Photo by Dan O’Sullivan – AdvancedAngler

As I said, I had a decent day. But four of the other five guys had even better days than I did. Andy and Brett are in the top 5. Stetson had more than 20 pounds, and I think he’s around 15th. Bobby caught almost 20 pounds.

I was generally ok with my 17-3, because I was one of the last ones to get there. I went straight to the ledge, but I had a bad boat draw. The ledge was almost full when I got there.

One moral of that story is that it was my tough luck getting a bad Day 1 draw.

But tomorrow, the boat draws are reversed. I was one of the last to leave the dock today, but tomorrow I’ll get out earlier. I’m going to get there before most of the other guys, so I will get to choose where I can fish. … Or will I?

That’s the dilemma, and I can’t emphasize strongly enough that this happens in multiple places every tournament.

 

I like and respect every one of the other five anglers fishing that ledge with me.

And I should say up front that since we established ourselves early on that ledge, it belongs to us. No one else gets to come in. We’re now like a family. We probably are going to squabble amongst ourselves over our own territory, and fuss and cuss if somebody throws over our lines – but, by golly, we’re now in it together. Watch what happens if another angler now tries to crash our territory.

It will be the six of banding together against anybody else.

 

But back to the problem.

Tomorrow, when I go in earlier than the rest of the group, do I have the right to fish the “nut” of the ledge, where the best fish were today?

Or should I yield to the two guys that got there first on Day 1, the guys who caught 25 and 23 pounds and are in the top 5?

Theoretically, I should be able to go straight to what I think is the sweetest spot, because that’s what the boat draw system is all about. If you go out last on Day 1, you get to go first on Day 2?  It levels the playing field.

But not all anglers feel that way. Many think that if you get a bad draw on Day 1, that’s just too bad. You lose any right to claim a spot on Day 2 that someone else fished on Day 1.

It’s a tricky question. The only thing I know is that none of us is giving up on that ledge.

So there will be a lot of negotiating going on early tomorrow.

And if I get there first tomorrow, I’m probably going to what I think will be the best place to fish. That’s the way system is designed.