Duckett First Homestate Angler to Win Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Boyd Duckett accomplished Sunday what no Bassmaster Classic angler had been able to in the 37-year history of the marquee event. The Demopolis, Ala., Bassmaster Elite Series pro became the first homestate angler to win the Classic and the $500,000 top prize.

The 46-year-old brought in the final round's biggest five-bass limit — 17 pounds, 13 ounces — to climb up from fourth place. His three-day total of 48-10 was enough to hold off California Bassmaster Elite Series angler Skeet Reese by six ounces. ESPN2 aired 10 ½ hours of coverage over the three-day event on Alabama's Lay Lake.

Reese, who was participating in his seventh Classic, brought in a limit of 15-14, but it was not enough to secure his first Classic championship. He finished with 48-4.

Second-round leader and two-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich,, fell to third with 45-4. Indiana's Terry McWilliams, a representative of the BASS Federation Nation, the grassroots organization of BASS, finished fourth with 45-3. Texan Gary Klein rounded out the top five with 44-5.

Duckett sealed his dramatic victory with the Purolator Big Bass of the Day for which he earned a $1,000 premium — a 6-pound, 9-ounce largemouth — caught at 2 p.m.

"I'm so proud I brought the Classic title to my home state," he said. "It's every angler's dream to be able to get here and to win it is just fantastic."

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 used a lipless crankbait and flipped a Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw into grass .

Reese, competing in his eighth Classic, was disappointed at his second-place finish.

"Second hurts, it really does," said Reese, who also caught his limit of bass on a Berkley Chigger Craw. "You don?t get that many opportunities to win a Bassmaster Classic. This was a golden opportunity this week. But I won't say I let it slip away because I fished the best I could."

With the third-place finish, VanDam, a three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, opened up a larger lead in the BASS all-time money earnings race over Missourri's Denny Brauer. VanDam, 39, has amassed over $2 million in winnings but lamented the lost opportunity.

"I'll be honest with you, I'm definitely disappointed," he said. "But I didn't leave anything out there. I fished my guts out."