Duckett Perspective – West Point Saturday Scorecard

Bucks Falcon Mercury

by Boyd Duckett

DuckettBlogThe past two weeks we fished Elite Series events at West Point Lake and the Alabama River. After these two events, I stand in 23rd place in Angler of the Year points, and I have to admit that I’m right on track for the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

That’s good and it’s bad. The good part, obviously, is that it’s nice to reach most of your goals. The bad part is that I freely admit I’m fishing conservatively. We’ll talk about that more in some future columns, and I promise it’s not the way it’s always going to be.

But I set out this year to take the second step in what I called my personal “Comeback Tour.” I have to do things way differently than I did in 2011 when I bottomed out. Last year I had a decent year that ended with a victory at Oneida. That was Step 1 in the comeback.

This year, consistency was the goal. I set out to fish on Saturday every week, which meant making every cut. Only a handful of anglers do that. But in trying to make every cut (and in so doing make sure that I make the Classic field for 2014), sometimes you have to sacrifice the “going for broke” mentality that it takes to win a tournament.

So I’ve almost made my goal. In fact, I’m one fish short of making every cut so far. And that one slipup happened at West Point, when I couldn’t catch the fifth fish on Friday. It cost me a cut.

Here’s how the Scorecard read for West Point.

(Just for review, in the Saturday Scorecard, I rate the critical phases of my performance in tournaments on a 1-10 scale.)



FINISH POSITION (58th) – Scorecard Rating: 3

The system is: If I win, I get 10 points. If I finish in the top 10 percent of the field, I’ll get 9 points, the top 20 percent equals 8 points, etc. My 58th-place finish equals 3.

DECISION-MAKING – Scorecard Rating: 3

West Point was a tough event. Not many people had good practices. In fact, the only place on the lake where the fish were biting was around Highlands Marina. I started there, but I missed the fact that most of the weight was in the back of the creek.

On the first day I had a good boat draw and went straight to the area of the marina where I knew there would be fish. But as I staked my spot, my marshal counted 26 boats that passed me and went farther back into the creek. And it was easy to count them, because it was an idle area where everybody had to pass slowly. And I’ll repeat, 26 boats passed by me.

I also made a bad decision late. I had found a boat dock with a bunch of spots, and I knew I could probably catch a limit of small fish on that dock. But it would take 45 minutes to get in and out of there.

Late in the tournament, when I gave up on catching a fish of any size, I decided I would go to the dock and see if I could get the limit. But, as I said, it was late, and by the time I got to the dock, I would only have about 15 minutes of fishing time. So I took off and got to the edge of the creek, where I would have to start idling. And I decided it wasn’t worth it. I decided not to idle in. I spun around and went to a bridge, where I thought I could catch the fifth one- and maybe it would be bigger. It turned out to be a horrible decision, and I knew it in my gut when I made it.

Just to prove how bad it was, after I missed the cut, I went back into the creek and went to the boat dock. (I could do that then, because I was out of the tournament.) I got to the dock, made three casts and caught three fish.

That decision could have cost me an entire season. I don’t know if a 3 is a low enough rating.

FOCUS AND COMPOSURE – Scorecard Rating: 6

Even making a bad decision, I was ok with the fact that I didn’t freak out on the first day when I realized I had made a mistake. But the second day was frustrating because I wasn’t catching them. I just didn’t fish well the second day and got frustrated when I couldn’t put the fifth one in the boat.

PREPARATION – Scorecard Rating: 8
As I’ve said before, I don’t get many chances to pre-fish, and I didn’t pre-fish here. Preparation wasn’t the issue. I did what I had to do.

PRACTICE – Scorecard Rating: 3
Enough said. I found one decent area. But I missed the big one.