A Day on the Lake Boyd Duckett:
A Day on the Lake Boyd Duckett:
Updated: February 27, 2008, 2:48 PM ETBy Don Wirth | BASSMASTER Magazine, March 2008
He owns a tanker truck leasing company and was formerly in the music business in Nashville. Here's what happened April 10, 2007, when we put the Classic champion on Lake Q, a 650-acre impoundment.
> 6:51 a.m. Duckett and I arrive at Lake Q. He's towing a Triton Tr-21X bass boat with a 250-hp Mercury outboard, MotorGuide trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. The weather is nasty: 39 degrees with mixed rain and sleet. Duckett pulls out several Airrus rods equipped with Abu Garcia reels and arranges them on the front deck. What's his plan of attack? "This region saw a couple of weeks of warm weather in early March, and then the last five days had record cold temperatures. If the bass were spawning or about to spawn, they may have pulled back into deeper water. I'm just going to have to nose around a little to try to establish a pattern."
> 7:00 a.m. We launch the Triton, and Duckett checks the water: It's murky and 59 degrees. He zips up his rainsuit and says, "Let's run uplake and look for some flat spawning banks." He's wearing his trademark red sneakers: "The other guys on the tour kid me about 'em, but they're comfortable!"
> 7:07 a.m. Duckett runs to a big cove with several houses and boat docks along its shore and makes his first cast with a red craw 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap to a small exposed hump:
"This is my go-to spring search lure. It's the original, and still the best, lipless vibrating crankbait. I've caught big bass in 39 degree water on a Trap." The lure is rigged on a large stainless steel snap that is attached to the plug's split ring: "I fish all my crankbaits on a big snap not only does this give them better action, it prevents the abrasion that occurs when your line works between the wire coils of the split ring." He's fishing the lure on a 7:1 baitcasting reel spooled with 10-pound Berkley fluorocarbon line.
> 7:09 a.m. "This lake is murkier than I anticipated," Duckett confesses as he continues cranking the Trap. "It's easier to catch bass in spring frontal conditions from a clear lake. But on the plus side, they tend to remain shallower in murky water, so I'm gonna probe the backs of these coves and see if I can't get some shallow bites."
> 7:15 a.m. He runs the Trap parallel to a riprap bank: "This foul weather is payback for those 85 degree days back in early March!"
> 7:18 a.m. Duckett pitches the Trap near a shallow dock; a bass hits it but doesn't hook up: "The fish ran toward me and I couldn't stick it."
> 7:20 a.m. He ties on a 1/4-ounce green pumpkin Tru-Tungsten jig with a matching Berkley Chigger Craw trailer and lowers it into the lake to examine it: "This color's only borderline visible in this murky water, but I'll try it."
> 7:22 a.m. Duckett pitches the jig to the spot where he had the Trap bite, but hauls water.
> 7:26 a.m. Back to the Trap. It's cloudy and dead calm, and baitfish are dimpling the surface. "I need to catch something quickly to see whether they're prespawn, spawning or postspawn," Duckett says. "With this crazy spring weather, they could be in any of those stages."
> 7:30 a.m. He's moving swiftly around the shallow cove, combing flat areas with the Trap. He points to his front graph: "There's a little ledge dropping from 2 to 4 feet a cast off the bank that should hold some fish. Any little ditch, channel or contour that they can use to move deeper or shallower is usually a key spot this time of year."
> 7:37 a.m. Duckett's rod bows as a good bass loads on. He works it close to the boat and exclaims, "It's tail-hooked!" Duckett drops to his knees and lips it; his first keeper of the day weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces: "I chunked the Trap into a little ditch that runs close to that dock, and the bass hit, then immediately the lure popped out of its mouth and got stuck in its tail! Weird hookups are really common with lipless crankbaits in spring, and you've gotta play your fish very carefully or the hook will rip out." The bass is in perfect shape: "It definitely hasn't spawned yet. No bumps, bruises or raw spots on its tail."
> 7:44 a.m. A light breeze is blowing out of the west as Duckett switches to a sand colored Berkley Power Lizard. It's Texas rigged with a 5/16-ounce sinker and 5/0 offset hook. He pitches it around a series of boat docks without success.
> 7:51 a.m. Duckett ties on a No. 7 Rapala Shad Rap crankbait, custom-painted reddish-brown and white. He cranks it in the area where he caught the 4-3. "I'm approaching today like a tournament practice day," he says. "I'll alternate search baits like the Trap and Shad Rap with probing baits like the jig and lizard till I get enough feedback from the fish to form a pattern."
> 7:56 a.m. Back to the Trap. He cranks it parallel to a concrete retaining wall.
> 8:08 a.m. Duckett tries the Shad Rap on a shallow point and hangs it in some old fishing line.
> 8:15 a.m. He runs the Trap around the point: "I've got a feeling this is gonna be my money bait today!" Speaking of money, I ask Duckett how winning a half-million bucks at the Classic has changed his life: "It's taken a lot of pressure off me now if I should fail to earn a check in a tournament, it's not a panic situation. Unfortunately, financial security is still relatively rare in our business."
> 8:21 a.m. Sun breaks through the clouds and Duckett dons a pair of Solar Bat sunglasses: "I keep two pairs in my boat: one with dark moss green lenses for sunny conditions, and another with light gray lenses for when it's cloudy."
> 8:23 a.m. Duckett casts the Trap to a shallow point. A bass hits it and as he's bringing it in, his reel falls off his rod! He hand-lines the fish to the boat; his second keeper weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces. "I'm glad that wasn't a 9-pounder I never would have landed it!
That reel must have worked loose when I was trailering my boat back from my tournaments in California last month."
> 8:29 a.m. He flips the jig to a laydown log: "There's not much shoreline cover on this lake so what little there is ought to hold some fish." But there are no takers here.
> 8:35 a.m. "That looks like a bed," Duckett says, pointing to a light patch on the bottom close to shore. "I don't see a bass on it often the big females move onto their beds later in the day."
> 8:37 a.m. There's a second bed along this bank; a buck bass swims off it as Duckett's boat draws closer: "I'll come back in a little while and fish that one."
> 8:45 a.m. Duckett idles 200 yards, watching his graph as he goes. He stops at a long point and tries a Texas rigged 10-inch black grape Berkley Power Worm: "Big bass love big worms!"
> 8:51 a.m. He switches to a 4-inch Land and Sea swimbait on the point: "I picked these lures up out in California. I like to slow crawl it so its nose bumps along the bottom.
They'll often hit it three or four times before they load up on it."
> 8:56 a.m. He hangs the swimbait in a brushpile and retrieves it.
> 9:03 a.m. Duckett makes a quick run back to the bed he'd spotted earlier. He tries the Trap and the jig around the nest but can't raise a fish.
> 9:11 a.m. Duckett moves deeper into the cove and follows the contour of a shallow shoreline with his trolling motor, casting the Rat-L-Trap as he goes.
> 9:22 a.m. He bags a 10-inch bass off a dock on the Trap.
> 9:23 a.m. On his next cast with the Trap, he hooks a big carp, which rolls and comes unbuttoned. He makes another cast and catches his third keeper, 3 pounds, 7 ounces: "That fish came out from under the dock. Three hits on three casts! So what if one of 'em was a carp? I'm in the zone now!"
> 9:27 a.m. Duckett has picked up his pace a bit, moving from one dock to the next while chunking the Rat-L-Trap: "I haven't had a bite on any slow moving lure I've tried, just on the Trap. They've all been reaction-bite fish."
> 9:43 a.m. He slow rolls a 1/4-ounce chartreuse and white Falcon double willow spinnerbait around the docks.
> 9:45 a.m. It's cold; the wind has picked up a bit and is now blowing out of the east. Duckett switches back to the Trap: "There oughta be a couple of big females back in this shallow stuff."
> 9:50 a.m. The sun has popped out: "That sure can't hurt us in this cool, murky water." Duckett presses deeper into the cove and tries a 10-inch worm along a sloping bank.
> 10:05 a.m. Duckett casts the Trap to a dock and catches keeper number four: 2 pounds, 14 ounces. This one has totally swallowed his Trap; he carefully extracts the plug and releases the fish.
> 10:07 a.m. Duckett casts a root beer/purple flake Yamamoto Senko sinking worm on a 5/0 extra-wide gap hook to a dock. He immediately gets bit, but the fish drops it: "Felt like a bluegill."
> 10:15 a.m. The pro pitches the Trap into an empty boathouse and hangs it in some old carpet on the lake bottom. It takes him several minutes to free the lure, and he straightens the bent hook with pliers: "I should change that hook I've probably weakened it."
> 10:22 a.m. Duckett continues down the bank with the Trap: "Hanging up your lure like that is unavoidable, but it really messes up your pace. It always takes me a few minutes to get back in the groove after I've spent time retrieving a bait."
> 10:33 a.m. A bass nips the Trap: "They're short-striking it, probably because of this east wind!"
> 10:39 a.m. He tries the spinnerbait again: "The lake's murky and choppy, so why isn't this bait working?"
> 10:46 a.m. He can't buy a bass on the spinnerbait, so it's back to the Trap.
> 10:48 a.m. Duckett casts the Trap into a shallow pocket near the mouth of the cove and catches his fifth keeper, 2 pounds, 4 ounces: "That one smacked it hard!"
> 10:56 a.m. We're on a main lake point, and the wind is howling. Duckett tries a 3/8-ounce Fish Trap swimbait: "This lure has a cool side-to-side rocking motion." He flings it across the point and promptly hangs it in a stump.
> 11:05 a.m. He switches to a 1/4-ounce crawfish Bandit crankbait, but it tangles in a wad of fishing line: "I guess I wasn't meant to fish this point!"
> 11:15 a.m. It's clouded over again and the air temp is in the upper 40s. Duckett makes a high-speed run farther uplake to a small cove, where he retrieves the spinnerbait through the branches of a laydown tree. What's his take on the day so far? "These bass are still prespawn. I don't think there's a huge population of bass in this lake if there were, I'd be getting more action on that Trap. I've had no luck at all fishing deeper than around 4 feet, so I'm gonna keep keying on shallow spawning water but try some different areas hopefully I'll get into some better fish."
> 11:17 a.m. He tries the jig around the tree without success.
> 11:36 a.m. After running the Trap around the cove's southern shoreline, Duckett casts it into the middle of the pocket and gets a light strike. "Small fish," he mutters as he cranks it in. Just then the bass leaps clear of the water and throws the plug; it's easily 5 pounds! "Do you believe that!? I hardly felt it strike and never felt it at all when I was reeling it in 'cause it was swimming straight toward me!"
> 11:48 a.m. Duckett gets a short strike on the Trap: "I felt the lure bump off a stump, and the fish tapped it."
> 11:50 a.m. Duckett's rod bows as a huge bass sucks in his Trap. It makes a big boil on the surface, then comes unglued: "Crap!" Duckett exclaims as his line goes slack.
> 11:57 a.m. Duckett strikes out with the jig and reverts to the Trap: "You get a lot of bites on a Rat-L-Trap, but you're gonna lose some fish on it, too. I've caught a ton of big bass on it, but in frontal conditions like today, they'll often hit it funny. Or, just clamp down on it, then open their mouth and spit it out like that last one did."
> 12:01 p.m. Duckett tags his sixth keeper, a 2-4 largemouth, from the middle of the pocket on the Rat-L-Trap; this bass culls the 1-15 caught earlier: "This fish came off a little ledge that drops off a foot or so they oughta be stacked up along there!" He repositions his boat and casts the Trap parallel to the structure.
> 12:05 p.m. He gets a short strike in the middle of the pocket on the Trap. "A lot of guys just fish around the shoreline of these little coves and pockets, but in spring, the best fish often are holding out in the middle, waiting for the water to warm so they can move onto the banks to spawn. That's certainly been the case here I never had a bump close to shore."
> 12:23 p.m. The skies are clearing as Duckett runs to a nearby point, wolfing down a Pop-Tart as he goes.
> 12:26 p.m. Duckett dredges the point with his Rat-L-Trap and snags a plastic cup filled with sand: "That felt good!"
> 12:29 p.m. He breaks out a box of crankbaits and switches to a red Poe's 400 on the point as waves break across the structure.
> 12:41 p.m. After thoroughly cranking the point with the Poe's, Duckett tries the Trap on the point without success.
> 12:45 p.m. He moves to the extreme upper end of the lake and fancasts the Trap around some shallow flats. The sun is coming out: "This is one crazy day weather-wise!"
> 1:00 p.m. With one hour remaining, Duckett bags a short fish on a ghost-pattern Bagley Killer B1 crankbait.
> 1:05 p.m. Duckett casts the Killer B to a shallow laydown and hangs a monster fish, which takes off for deep water, ripping drag. "This is no bass," he says. "It's a big catfish!" He follows the beast with his trolling motor for a couple of minutes before the crankbait pulls free: "I think I had it hooked in the tail. What a beast! I caught a 54-pound striper at the BASS California Delta tournament and it didn't pull as hard as this fish!"
> 1:11 p.m. Duckett catches a tiny bass on the Bagley: "Check out this bad boy!"
> 1:18 p.m. The Classic champion runs back to the shallow pocket where he lost two big bass and fancasts the Trap: "I'm gonna work this place hard during the time I've got left 'cause I know there's some big fish here."
> 1:23 p.m. He hangs the Trap in a stump and retrieves it.
> 1:26 p.m. Another bass short-strikes the Trap.
> 1:40 p.m. Duckett gets yet another bump on the Trap: "They're just not taking it."
> 1:50 p.m. He switches gears and pitches the 10-inch worm into a shoreline laydown. Nothing.
> 2:00 p.m. Back to the ramp. In spite of severe frontal conditions, Duckett has boated six keepers from Lake Q, the five biggest of which weigh 15 pounds even.
THE DAY IN PERSPECTIVE
"These bass are wanting to move to the bank to spawn, but the unseasonably cold weather is keeping them from it," Duckett told Bassmaster. "Short strikes were a problem today I lost two really big bass that didn't bite hard enough to get hooked. Normally you can finesse these cold front bass with a jig or worm, but the only thing I could get a bite on today was that Rat-L-Trap, so I stayed with it. If I had to fish here tomorrow under similar weather conditions, I'd stick with the Trap close to spawning flats, but I'd spend more time in the upper end of the lake in hopes of encountering some bigger fish."
Where And When Boyd Duckett Caught His Five Biggest Keepers
1. 4 pounds, 3 ounces; ditch near a boat dock; 1/2-ounce red craw Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap; 7:37 a.m.
2. 3 pounds, 7 ounces; boat dock; same lure as No. 1; 9:23 a.m.
3. 2 pounds, 14 ounces; boat dock; same lure as No. 1; 10:05 a.m.
4. 2 pounds, 4 ounces; shallow pocket; same lure as No. 1; 10:48 a.m.
5. 2 pounds, 4 ounces; ledge in shallow pocket; same lure as No. 1; 12:01 p.m.
TOTAL: 15 POUNDS
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A Day on the Lake Boyd Duckett: