DEMOPOLIS — Fishing in his first Bassmaster Classic, Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, comes home with the championship title, after rallying in the final minutes of the competition."It's the greatest feeling in the world," said Duckett. "It's the victory of a lifetime in my sport."The 46-year old rookie approached the competition with 'a swing for the fences' attitude. He jumped out of the starting gate with 19 pounds, and 14 ounces on day one, including the largest bass of the tournament an 8-pound, 2-ouncer, to take the lead. Though he had a not so good outing on the second day of the tournament, weighing in at 10-15, Duckett managed to hold on the fifth spot.It was on the final day of the Classic that Duckett found himself hovering between fourth and fifth with just an hour before the weigh in, when he pulled in a 6-9 big mouth, the largest catch of the day, to get over the top by just six ounces. His final day weigh in totaled 17-13, which is considered a big day, to give him 48-10 for the tournament.
The Demopolis angler was awarded the top prize of $500,000. Duckett also became the eighth Bassmaster Classic rookie to take the title. He is the first angler in 36 years of Bass history to win a competition in their home state.His familiarity of the water wasn't the major factor in winning."I really didn't use local knowledge for this tournament. I went in with a totally open mind," Duckett said. "That's what has really helped me in my tournaments. I really love chasing fish and figuring them out."He said his key was to follow the fish each day and not get hung up on what they'd been doing previously.The second-place finisher, Skeet Reese, who totaled 48-4 and Kevin VanDam, who has been called the Tiger Woods of bass fishing, topped out a number three. They are two of the most accomplished anglers in bass fishing.Duckett have always talked about qualifying for the Elite Series, which is the top tour in bass fishing. He didn't qualify for the Classic through the Bassmaster Elite Series, he got his berth through the Bassmaster Southern Tour.
He's a local about to turn pro, who in one small moment in an Alabama coliseum, became one of the storied few to win bass fishing's greatest event."It's every anglers dream," said Duckett, a chemical tank rental business owner. "I've been working towards fishing the tour for a few years."Duckett, an accomplished river angler, emphasized how important his flipping bite — in decidedly calmer water — was in upping his weight after securing a limit early each morning.
"This whole tournament was about the flipping fish. The longer you keep a flipping stick in your hand the better off you are," Duckett said. "We've got a (full) moon coming up in eight or nine days and those females are moving up."
In the end, the tournament came down to the sun, and flipping. When it shined, Duckett flipped up kickers and weighed 19-plus and 17-plus. When it was cloudy, he only caught 10-15.
"I wanted to fish with an open mind," Duckett said, who is the sixth oldest angler on tour. "I found a lot of places (during the tournament) that I'd never fished before. I like to fish that way, I don't like to practice and get my head stuck thinking this is what they're going to do, and then have them not do what you want them to do."The river, as many predicted, was too fickle to hold for three days. And even though VanDam and Duckett both threw a rattlebait, it was Duckett's big-stick flipping, which he used to cull up each day, that prevailed.His 48-10 winning total means he averaged just over 16 pounds a day.Duckett has lived in Alabama since 1991, but he didn't attend any of the festivities surrounding the previous Classics in the Birmingham area."Many years ago, I said I wouldn't go to a Classic until I got to fish in it," he said. "This is every angler's dream and I'm really tickled about the home-state angler thing."
Duckett was among a contingent of nine Alabama pros in the Classic this week and was one of the pre-Classic favorites because of his extensive experience on Lay Lake .He stressed that although he had vast knowledge of the lake, he wasn't the hometown favorite."I've fished a lot of tournaments around here, but Russ Lane used to beat me most of the time.Duckett now qualifies for the Elite 100 Series, where he joins the top 100 anglers in the world. He will fish that series all season. He also qualified for the three majors: Bassmaster Memorial, Bassmaster American, and Bassmaster Legends.