Boyd Duckett – About the 2015 Classic

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DuckettBlogIt’s Bassmaster Classic week, the week of the biggest event in our sport. Our Super Bowl.

So I guess it’s pretty obvious that the last thing I want to be doing this week is working the Expo for my sponsors. That’s certainly not a knock on my sponsors, because I have good ones. In fact, if you’re in Greenville this week, I’ll be moving between the Duckett Fishing, Triton, Mercury, Yamamoto, Dick’s and Academy booths, some on my own behalf, others for Duckett Fishing.

Great people. Terrific companies. All of them.

But with all due respect, I’d rather not be on land. I’d prefer to be in a boat on Hartwell Lake.

Whether this year’s winner is a first -time or a multiple champion, somebody’s going to have a great week and win the Classic, and it will change his life. This title will make his life a lot better and a lot busier.

I can’t begin to tell you how the world changed after I won the Classic in 2007. A Classic title gives the winner a tremendous level of credibility.

Taking that a step further, I’ve been involved in a leadership role in two enormous business ventures during the past four years – the creation and development of both Duckett Fishing, a new company, and Major League Fishing, a television show – and the Classic paved the road for those two adventures. It’s possible that I might have been able to create a successful rod and reel company if I hadn’t won the Classic, but it certainly would have taken a whole lot longer. The credibility from winning the Classic opened doors quickly.

Probably the same is true regarding Major League Fishing. Winning the Classic gave me a different type of access to the top competitors in our business, and I got to know great anglers like Kevin VanDam and Gary Klein and Skeet Reese and Mark Davis, just to name a few, much better after I won the Classic. What that ultimately meant was that when I took on my particular leadership role with Major League Fishing, guys listened.

So who’s going to win this year?

Before I throw out a name or three as good bets, I have to bring up a bad memory. That came in 2008, the year I was defending Classic champion. That year, same as this year, the Classic was on Hartwell Lake. And I did then what I know a lot of guys are doing this year.

I’m hearing from a lot of anglers that went to Hartwell to pre-fish that they found a great shallow bite. I did the same thing in 2008. I could have won on the section of water that I found. When I pre-fished, it was warm, and the shallow bite was set up.

But in 2008, the week of the Classic, a major cold front came through. There was sleet on the first morning. It chased all my fish, and I was out of contention on the first day.

The same thing is happening this year. It’s going to be cold on the first day and probably the second.

Alton Jones won in 2008, and he won because he was fishing deep water and standing timber.

Hartwell was created in the early 1960s. It’s a midland reservoir, and it sets up like one. It has big fish. It’s filled with blueback herring. And the lake has a lot of cover.

That setup makes for a good deep-water bite. So logic would tell you that the winner this year will be an angler that can find them in deep water.

If I were handicapping the field, I’d say Alton Jones, if he were fishing, would have had a great shot to win again. But Alton didn’t qualify. And again, I know the feeling.

Casey Ashley and Aaron Martens will be two that I would watch. They’re both really solid in these conditions, and Casey has the advantage of knowing Hartwell better than the rest of us.

A third angler would be Dean Rojas, who would be considered a dark horse pick. But Dean is on top of his game, and he will have the ability to catch them at Hartwell.

I would probably have put Kevin VanDam’s name in that group, just as a matter of principle. But our sport is humbling. Kevin, for the first time in a long, long time, will be working the show.

And if I were betting, I’d say it won’t happen again for a long time.