By now, the fishing world knows that Boyd Duckett, a 46-year-old Classic rookie from Demopolis, Ala., who qualified through the Bassmaster Southern Tour (now Opens), put together five-bass limits weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces, 10-15 and 17-13 to win the Classic. And that his three-day total of 48-10 edged Skeet Reese by just 6 ounces.
What fishing fans may not be aware of is the gutsy strategy he employed to capture the sport's premier championship.
"It took guts to use a flipping stick for six hours a day when you know you're only going to get two bites," Duckett admits. "That's what won the Classic.
"The key was having confidence in what it takes to win the Classic. You've got to swing for the fences. And when you're flipping six hours for two bites, you have to have a lot of confidence that you're going to catch them."
The past BASS tournament winner entered the Classic armed with a deadly combination — extensive knowledge of Lay Lake and an open mind. His experience on the 12,000-acre central Alabama impoundment of the Coosa River told him:
- Throw out the pattern he had developed in pre-practice (cranking for spotted bass at a depth of 8 to 9 feet) a week before the Classic because of the severity of the weather versus the warming trend forecast during the competition.
- This Classic could not be won without a sizeable largemouth or two each day.
- Both species of bass would likely be shallow, staging to spawn.
"I've fished Lay Lake a fair bit, but I didn't go into this tournament really using my local knowledge," Duckett adds. "I went into Lay really open-minded."
So, Duckett took a double-barreled approach heading into Day 1. Early each morning, he crawled and banged a 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap across the gravel floor of a couple of small secondary points to entice spots that were cruising in 2 to 4 feet of water. He then moved to the back of Cedar Creek, where he concentrated on water willows growing at a depth of 1 to 3 feet — flipping and pitching a Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw for largemouth.
That is where patience and perseverance won out.
Content to spend the bulk of each day fishing for a couple of big bites, Duckett was rewarded with two of the three daily Purolator Big Bass winners — an 8-pound, 2-ounce beauty on Day 1; and the Classic clincher, a 6-pound, 9-ounce final-hour largemouth.
"The Rat-L-Trap was mostly for confidence and I was catching a few decent fish on it. But the longer you keep a flipping stick in your hands this time of year and move back to the prespawn locations, the better off you're going to be."
NO. 1 BOYD DUCKETT
LURES: 4-inch Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw, Texas rigged, black with red flake; 1/2-ounce Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, red crawfish/brown back.
TACKLE: Flipping 65-pound-test Stren Super Braid, 1-ounce pegged Tru-Tungsten weight, 5/0 Owner hook, 7-6 Air heavy action Airrus N-Sync flipping rod, Abu Garcia Revo reel. Cranking: 15-pound-test prototype Berkley fluorocarbon, 7-foot medium action Airrus Co-Matrix 457 rod, Revo reel.
TECHNIQUE: Early each morning he crawled the Rat-L-Trap slowly along the gravel bottom of secondary points to get a limit of spots. After Duckett filled his limit, he moved to some water willows adjacent to spawning flats and flipped/pitched the craw for largemouth.