Duckett Perspective – St. Lawrence River Scorecard

Bucks Skeeter Yamaha

DuckettBlogFor the first time this year, I’m in a bind. Up against the wall.

I worked hard the entire Elite Series season to stay on a specific program. According to the program I would fish conservatively, make solid decisions (not emotional ones) and always fish to make the cut.

And I followed the formula – for the most part. I didn’t take unnecessary risks. The result was that I had solid finishes and made most of the cuts. Until the St. Lawrence River, that is.

Going into the tournament on the St. Lawrence River last week, I was in 26th place in Angler of the Year standings, which is the best position I’ve seen in years. All I had to do, as they say in tennis, was hold serve. I needed to make the cut at the St. Lawrence River, and I probably have all but secured a spot in the Bassmaster Classic.

But I tanked. I had lousy practice days and a lousy tournament. I finished in a tie for 63rd place, dropped eight spots in the AOY points race, and now I’m a couple of spots outside where the Classic cutline is likely to fall. So that means that when we go to the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair for the final event of the season, I’ve probably got to finish 25 or better to make the Bassmaster Classic.

I hate that it came to this, but I’m actually not too worked up about it. I’ve got a history of being in this spot. In fact, five out of the last six years I went into the last tournament knowing I had to finish 30th or better to get in the Classic. And I made it every time. Last year, I actually needed to win at Oneida to get in. Fortunately, that worked out well.

But with all that said, I didn’t want to be in this position this year. I had a nice cushion, but it’s gone. Now I’ve to finish high. It’s a lot of extra pressure for the last event.

So how did I get in this spot?

Well, I didn’t have good practice days at the St. Lawrence River. And that’s about it. Practice killed me. Even after I went up there before the cut-off date and pre-fished, I still had horrible, horrible practices.

So that was the story of my effort at the St. Lawrence River. Here’s the Saturday Scorecard.


FINISH POSITION – Scorecard Rating: 3

There is no analysis to this one. If I win, I get 10 points. If I finish in the top 10 percent of the field, I’ll get 9 points. If I finish in the top 20 percent (but not top 10 percent), I get 8 points. And so on.

At the St. Lawrence, I finished between 63rd. That gets a big 3 points.

DECISION-MAKING – Scorecard Rating: 5.5

My decision-making was pretty good the first day but not good at all the second day. This is kind of like playing a football game against a good opponent and playing two good quarters and two bad ones. That just won’t cut it. The first day – the two “good quarters” – was solid, because I fished pretty well after I knew that I had crashed and burned in practice. I was 46th after the first day. So, entering Day 2 I was pleased and comfortable. Then on the second day I went into water that I’d practiced (on the Canadian side), but the wind was blowing up to 50 MPH. I had thought I could improve on the first day, so I made the decision to fish that area. I was just too determined stick with a plan. It didn’t go well. So the bottom line is that I gave myself and 8 on the first day and a 3 on the second. Balance that and you get a 5.5.

FOCUS AND COMPOSURE – Scorecard Rating: 5

I felt pretty good the first day about what I was doing, but – again – it all went downhill on the second day. The funny thing is that I had what would be decent weights at most tournaments, around 18 pounds the first day and 15 the second. But if you go back to the football analogy, you know that weights are not always relevant. Some games are 7-3, while other games are 45-38. This was a 45-38 game, so 15 pounds wasn’t going to cut it. My composure while I was catching 15 pounds on the second day wasn’t good. I got more frustrated as the day went on.

PREPARATION – Scorecard Rating: 7

Preparation is the one area that I actually did the right things. They didn’t yield the results I had hoped for, but I made the effort. I went up the Thousand Islands and pre-fished. And I talked with people. But, here’s the thing. It’s a huge, huge area, and there’s just no way you can cover it in a couple of days of practice. You’ve got to know your strategy going in. So I studied, pre-fished and got some local input. It wasn’t nearly enough, but I did what I could.

PRACTICE – Scorecard Rating: 3

Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Nothing went right.


And, once again, now my back’s against the wall heading into the final event.