Boyd Duckett got a bad break with this one. Not only was the bite "funky," but the weather played havoc with his analysis.
"I knew the bite would be tough. I said that, and it turned out to be all too true. I mean look at Thursday's results. Only 41 limits were caught by 100 of the best bass anglers on the planet. When's the last time you saw that happen?
"Friday wasn't a heck of a lot better. There were only 55 limits that day. That's a total of 96 limits out of 200 days of fishing in an Elite tournament. That tells you everything you need to know about this one."
Duckett continued by saying that the weird bite wasn't the only problem, or even the worst one. You'll recall he said a lot of the anglers were running over the bass in practice, and he said he'd explain the details of that statement after the tournament. Well, here are the details:
"The fish were shallow. Most of them were either on the beds or going to them. But the water was stained with little visibility. I saw several of the guys run over bass because they didn't realize what was happening and they couldn't see the fish. I think that was the core of the problem."
When it came to weight predictions, the 2007 Bassmaster Classic Champion did a fair job. He predicted it'd take 11 pounds per day to make Friday's cut. In fact, 50th place went to Pete Ponds with 20 pounds, 15 ounces. That's pretty darn close.
And his cut-weight prediction for Sunday wasn't all that bad, either. The last Sunday morning slot went to Bradley Hallman with 28 pounds, 14 ounces. But, that was for two days, not three. So, Duckett's prediction that it'd take 50 pounds to make the last cut really boils down to something over 3 pounds per bass. Hallman's bass nearly reached that average.
A winning weight of 60 pounds — four days, 20 bass — was another Duckett forecast. Unfortunately, it went awry. Mark Menendez weighed 55 pounds, 7 ounces with only three days of angling and 15 bass under his belt. That's a big difference.
At the same time Duckett theorized the biggest bass of the event "wasn't likely to break the 7 pound mark." Tim Horton's 7 pound, 8 ounce brute claimed that honor.
"Really, most of my weights were pretty close, except for the top anglers. I'll admit to missing those. I knew it'd be tough to catch a limit. I just didn't realize how heavy the limits they did catch would be. It was a clear mistake on my part, no doubt about it. Overall, the fish were bigger than I thought they'd be going into the tournament. I didn't see that coming."
Unfortunately, Duckett's tip on anglers to watch turned out to be dead wrong. His picks — Todd Faircloth and Greg Hackney — finished 44th and 49th, respectively. Both made a check but neither made the top-12 cut.
To his credit, however, he did warn us about the weather. He said if the water cooled down "this tournament's going to turn ugly." He was right about that. Over half the field failed to weigh a limit on Sunday. Still, some of the guys caught them. Who knows what might have been had there been a Saturday with stable weather?
Duckett finished in 38th place. He earned a gentleman's C for his preview under tough conditions.