Boyd Duckett – Wrestling Bears at the Classic

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DuckettBlogI’ve wrestled two bears – figuratively speaking – during the past week and a half. As you might expect, when it’s me against a bear, I’m zero for two in the win column.

One “bear” was my boat. The other was the Bassmaster Classic.

 

First, let me tell you the quick version of what happened with the boat.

I’ve had seasons in the past where it was hard to get my competition boat ready in time. You might have engine issues or trouble with the electronics or you can’t get the wrap scheduled – or it might be as simple as not having enough time to get the thing properly broken in. Well, this is one of those years. It seemed that almost everything about my boat was behind schedule. As a result, when I got to Tulsa for the Classic, I spent way too much time in the boatyard and way too little on the water actually looking for fish.

I lost practice time during our three regular practice days and then lost the final Wednesday morning practice. I’m not blaming anybody; I’m just saying it happened.

Fast forward to the day after the Classic.

After three days of scrambling my way to a 17th place finish, I had to fly back to Alabama to take care of work deadlines. That meant I hired other people to drive my boat back from Tulsa to Guntersville. Duckett Fishing also had a truck full of equipment, because the company always sponsors a booth at the Classic exhibition. As luck would have it, on the drive back home there was an accident. The truck carrying the Duckett Fishing equipment ran into the back of the trailer carrying my competition boat.

It was a mess. My boat is wrecked, and I’ve now got to figure out whether I’m going to actually have a competition boat for the St. John’s River Elite Series event.

So, the boat fiasco was one of my two losses to “the bear.”

 

The other bear, and my second loss, was the Classic itself.

In retrospect, I should be happy that I finished 17th. A finish that high would be a victory in an Elite Series event, where points are critical. But 17th in the Classic is not much good in a winner-take-all event.

It was difficult fishing from the get-go. The weather had been cold, conditions overall were off, and the lake wasn’t surrendering much. In fact, Grand hasn’t been fishing strong for more than a year. Even the locals aren’t catching much weight, generally speaking.

I spent the first two tournament days looking for anything that would bite. I fished a lot in clear water creeks up north, but I never got on a pattern. I barely made the 25 cut, which put me into Sunday’s final round. I lost a few fish in the process and boated seven fish (in two days) for a little more than 18 pounds. Almost unbelievably, 18 was  good enough to advance to the final day.

On Sunday I was just grinding, trying to beat somebody – trying to move up as many places in the standing as I could. That’s just the way we think. We like to compete.

I had 14-plus on the final day and actually felt good about it. As I’ve said so many times in these columns, the idea of competitive fishing is to fish hard all day, do the best you can, keep your composure and let the results take care of themselves. The larger point is: If you do your best, you’ve had a good day of fishing.

With that said, let me tell you what we in the field had to compete against. The real bear was Edwin Evers.  I’m going to use a pro football analogy to describe how the Classic went down.

Edwin Evers was Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking the Green Bay Packers in 9-degree weather at Lambeau Field.

Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you play the Packers and the weather is fine, the conditions are normal and all the outside factors are equal. If you have a good team, you have pretty good odds you can beat Rodgers and the Packers.

But if you play those same Packers in December, and the ground is hard and the weather is extremely cold and the game is at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the odds are high that you’re not going to win. First, because the Packers are really good. Second, because the Packers are accustomed to the conditions.

In the Classic, Edwin Evers was the Packers at Lambeau Field. He was on his home turf, he knew things we didn’t know, and he is a great angler, which means he’s talented enough to take advantage of most anything Grand Lake would throw at him.

I was proud of my 14 pounds on the last day. Edwin had 29.

Edwin Evers is one of the absolute best anglers on tour. And on Sunday at the Classic, he was Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking his Packers, making all the right decisions, completing 90 percent of his passes, throwing for six touchdowns and showing the rest of us that he wasn’t going to be beaten on his home turf.

And THAT is how champions act.