A Classic beginning

Audio of Duckett explaining how he won the Classic

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Boyd Duckett squinted as he pulled out his multi-page itinerary and looked over his flight schedule.It was Wednesday. Three days after he won the Bassmaster Classic, and still no room to breathe. Pulling from the two hours of sleep he got the night before, Duckett finally found his place."Flight's not 'til 5:40, so we're good," he said, after mumbling through about 15 different towns until he hit Little Rock, Ark., the site of this interview.

 He had just finished a hurried lunch, which was preceded by a couple hours in front an ESPN television camera for the Classic highlight show that will air Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.And now it was time to sit down for another interview. It was probably his 100th in the past 70 hours, but with the sincerity of his answers, one would have thought it was his first.

 "It's been crazy," he said as he found a seat on the couch. "It'll all settle down. I've just got to try and find a way to get it all done."

 Duckett spent most of Monday in front of cameras. He did photo shoots for Berkley, Abu Garcia, Bassmaster Magazine and Bass Times.He did an interview with ESPNEWS and finished up a series of Classic stories (that had started before the tournament) with the Tuscaloosa News. Any spare moment Monday was spent with media and answering phone calls."I used to call into a radio show maybe twice a month," he said. "Do maybe a phone interview for an outdoor magazine or do a little radio interview. I have done an incredible amount of phone interviews over the past couple days."With the Monday media craze behind him, Duckett planned using Tuesday to get his work life back together. He planned to be at work by 7 a.m., but the phone calls started before he could get to his car.At noon, he finally arrived at Southern Tank Leasing, his multi-million dollar stainless steel tanker rental business in his hometown of Demopolis, Ala. There, he was greeted by 706 unread emails.His work day included four calls into radio talk shows and another barrage of calls from reporters. It ended around 2 a.m., and he was at the airport to fly to Little Rock at 4:30 a.m.But he was still wide-eyed as he sat on the edge of the couch in a back room adjacent to the Bassmaster television studio.

 Who is Boyd Duckett?
Duckett has been tournament fishing for more than 30 years, but he didn't see any real success until the mid-1990s.

 "The guys call me a veteran rookie," he said, ignoring the first of six calls he would receive throughout the hour-long interview. "I've done this a long time. I've watched all these guys come into the sport, except the old guys."

 Duckett's lack of success as an angler in his early years was offset by his success in the music business. He was the co-owner of Affiliated Publishers Inc., in Nashville and played guitar and sang at bars on the weekend.

 "I fished a long time and was not very successful," he said. "I couldn't win because I didn't do it right. I was nervous and my confidence level was awful."Duckett eventually sold the music company, moved to his current home in Demopolis, and opened up his truck business, which was successful enough to allow him to continue fishing even though he was losing money on the water."I couldn't even win big local tournaments when I was living in Tennessee," he said. "I mean, I got a couple checks with a 15th-place finish or something, but I didn't win them."Then it happened. Duckett said he's not sure why or when it happened, but after years of doing it wrong, he figured out the secret to winning bass tournaments."It's all in your head," he said. "I used to chase mechanical skills, and I realize today that mechanical skills are the least valuable in professional bass fishing. They mean the least. It took me so long to believe that."With that mindset, Duckett started winning. He won small local tournaments. He won big ones. After finishing first in 11 events in 1999, he started to become more of a force, not only locally, but nationally as well."What I'm telling you is that my competitive edge is in my head," Duckett said. "I finally figured that out and started winning everything in Alabama. You can win with your head. You can be horrible and win."Duckett, who was once a 2-handicap golfer, explained his epiphany with a golf analogy. He talked about a golfer who misses a tee shot and carries that with him to the next hole. With that negative thought in mind, his next shot oftentimes is worse, and his round continually deteriorates because of the negativity."That can get in your head, and buddy when it does, you are cooked," he said. "It's no different in bass fishing. People just don't understand our sport."

 Part II

 Audio of Duckett explaining how he won the Classic