Duckett Perspective – The Magic Number is 65 or Lower

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It’s competition week again. The Elite Series kicks off in East Tennessee on Cherokee Lake. I’m looking forward to it. I spent quite a few years in Tennessee. I know the lake.

I like the fact that for the first time in a decade we’re starting the season with a regular-season event – not the Bassmaster Classic. I like it because I got tired of freezing during the Classic.

 

Since we’re starting the regular season, It’s time to write a column I write every year about this time. I always ask myself: What are my goals for the coming season? And then I share my goals and general strategy.

Well here is both the goal and the strategy. I’ve created a magic number – and that number is 65.

In 2007, I don’t want to compete in an Elite Series tournament where my finish is lower than 65th. I’ve given this a lot of thought. Sixty-five. It will be on my mind all year.

This is an unusual goal and, at first glance, it looks like it’s not ambitious. But I promise you it is.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ll be trying to get Top 20’s and Top 12’s, and if the opportunity is there, I’ll go for a win.

But on the first day of every tournament, I’m going to be careful. Perhaps I should say: be smart. I’m going to make sure at the first opportunity I can, I get five bass in the boat. I made the this year’s Classic, but I had to sweat to the end. I needed a 15th place finish at the Mississippi River and a 12th place at the Angler-of-the-Year tournament – and that was after a ninth-place early in the year at Winyah Bay –  to overcome a couple of tournaments where I ended Day 1 in the nineties.

I could have made the season a whole lot more manageable if I hadn’t started badly at several tournaments.

I chose 65 because if you finish 65th, even though you miss the cut, it’s a lot better from a points standpoint than a 95. I mean, we fight over five points every event. Five points. There’s a 30-point difference in 65th and 95th, and a 30-point miss in a tournament can wreck your season. Thirty points is a mountain.

And remember, 65 is the top end. It’s a number that won’t kill you if hit once, maybe even twice.

One year I set a goal of making every cut. I chose to fish conservatively, to go the safe route at all times. The problem was that I still didn’t make the cut every tournament. It’s hard to be on it every event, and to make cuts you’ve got to be better than more than half the field.

I’ll be taking the same approach this year in a lot of respects. I want to be smart. I don’t want to go chasing big fish all day when 12 respectable, catch-able fish will get the job done.

I’ll always be willing to take a chance, but I also want to force myself to pull the plug quicker when a gamble’s not working

So in a nutshell, I’ll still go after a win on Saturday and Sunday, but Thursday and Friday are going to be about securing position.

 

With that said, I’m doing the fundamental things pretty much the same way I’ve done them in previous seasons. I have prepared. I’ve pre-fished when I could, and I’ve gotten my truck and my boat and my garage ready. Getting the boat ready is a chore. I’ve spent weeks and weeks on that.

You’ve got to get the right tackle and the right amount. I can’t stand being disorganized. I’m not as organized as Aaron Martens, but I do like to be ready.