Boyd Duckett – My First New Year’s Resolutions

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DuckettBlogI’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I definitely think setting goals is important, but I don’t usually like to put specific dates on goals, because circumstances will change your timetables. But I absolutely set goals and priorities – and I usually follow through.

For example, a few years ago, it made sense to me to create Duckett Fishing. One of the goals I had in my mind was to create a company that makes microguide rods available to all anglers. I had a general timetable in mind on when I thought the company might make its first rods and when it might actually make a profit.

But I didn’t have a specific timetable for a lot of what has happened with Duckett Fishing. Getting our terrific pro staff on board happened when the time was right. I also didn’t have a specific goal in the beginning to move the company to Guntersville, Alabama. It crossed my mind, but I didn’t say that I want to be in Guntersville by the fall of 2013.

But it was the right move, and it happened it at the right time.

I mentioned the Duckett Fishing moves to offer a background on how I think. At the same time, I’m willing to try something new. So I’ve decided to declare a few resolutions for 2014. They all involve my professional fishing career.

I’ve narrowed the list to four items:

No. 1: I will earn my way back to the Bassmaster Classic

Since I qualified for my first Classic more than seven years ago, I’ve missed the cut twice. The first time I had no excuses and, in fact, no chance. That was after my 2011 season. In fact, the reason I’m writing this column today is because of that 2011 season. I vowed to either change, or at least think about changing, everything I was doing in 2011 because my fishing career wasn’t working.

So I made a lot of changes in 2012 and 2013, and I’ve written about every one of those changes.

This past year was different; I should have qualified for the Classic. After a season of Elite Series competition, I was ounces away from making it. I missed the Classic mostly because I had a bad final event. I was almost locked in, but I let it slip away. When I look at the year as whole, though, I fished the style I intended to fish in 2013, and I learned a lot.

But right now it’s absolutely killing me that I missed the cut. I’m living in Guntersville, Alabama, and I live on the lake – but I’m going to have to watch the Classic from my porch. … No, wait. I’m going to have to leave my porch, drive for an hour and work the Classic Show on behalf of my sponsors. So I won’t even get to sit on the porch.

Here’s the worst part. Some of my buddies will be staying at my house. Usually, when I’m around my buddies, we’re getting ready to fish together.

Not this time.

I vow in 2014 to make the next Bassmaster Classic.

No. 2: I’m fishing to win in 2014 – not just to make cuts

If you read this column throughout this past season, you know that I fished to “place” – not to win. I tried an year-long experiment – the Saturday Scorecard experiment. I took the safe route, with the goal of making eight cuts. I ranked every performance using what I called the Saturday Scorecard system.

The ultimate goal was to track my performances – and to make eight Elite Series cuts. I figured eight cuts would easily put me into the Classic, which is the first goal all Elite Series anglers have.

Well, it worked well for most of the year. Then I had a couple of events late in the year that weren’t terrible, but they were just bad enough to put me ounces out of the final cut.

I was determined in 2013 to not have any 85th or 90th -place finishes. And I didn’t, so I met that goal.

But I also didn’t enjoy taking the conservative road all the time. The patterns that in the past would have been my secondary patterns became my primary patterns, because that was the safest route.

No more. The Saturday Scorecard was a one-year experiment. I learned a lot, but it’s over.

In fact, the No. 1 thing I learned is that it’s more fun to fish to win. I like the bigger-risk-bigger-reward style. That is now Option 1.

I’ll be even more specific. I’d like made three Top Tens, and I’ll live with an 85th place finish.

No. 3: I won’t be using anyone else’s “help”

I should qualify this statement. I’ll certainly do all the research I need to do. In fact, I’ll look at results of previous tournaments on the bodies of water we fish. I’ll find out where winning patterns were. I’ll do all the research you can do on the Internet.

I’ll also probably call some people and ask basic questions.

But I’ve never been really good at using help. I feel like I’m chasing somebody else’s fish, and that doesn’t work for me.

I’ve gone to tournament sites and fished with local guys. And sometimes they’ve been extremely helpful. But in the end, I never felt that it paid me the dividends I needed. It certainly didn’t help my mental groove.

What I will not do is take is someone else’s waypoints. I don’t want their places. A lot of pro anglers are good at managing that kind of information. I’m not.

No. 4: I’ll continue the things I’ve been doing right

During the past two years, I re-learned how important organization and preparation are. I’m going to continue to keep my garage and my truck organized.

I also learned to pare down. I didn’t carry a ton of extra stuff. I’m not going to change that. I’m going to take what I need but not a bunch of extra gear.

I’m going to compartmentalize fishing. To me, that means I’m going to put my focus on tournament fishing when it’s time to fish. I’m not going to let other things get in the way.

I’m also going to arrive at events early. I won’t come storming in on Monday morning (when practice starts on Monday) and think my mind is in the game. I used to make that mistake.

As I said, these thing under item No. 4 are parts of my tournament game that I’ve done pretty well the past two years.

My resolution is to keep doing the things that have worked.

So, in a nutshell, you just read my first set of New Year’s fishing resolutions. And I plan to stick to them.