BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Boyd Duckett had a sound game plan and he executed it perfectly Sunday to pass three of the biggest names in pro bass fishing and win the Bassmaster Classic.
Using a lipless crankbait to catch a quick limit of fish each day, then flipping a plastic crawfish to catch a few bigger bass, the resident of Demopolis, Ala., made history on Lay Lake by becoming the first angler in the 37 years of the Classic to win the world's most prestigious fishing tournament in his home state.
"I'm really tickled about the home state angler thing," said Duckett, 46, who qualified for his first Classic by finishing third in the point standings in the Southern Tour last year. "I had a lot of confidence that I could win this tournament before I came here."
Duckett caught the heaviest five-fish stringer of the day at 17 pounds, 13 ounces and the biggest bass of the day at 6-9 to finish with a three-day weight of 48-10 and win the $500,000 first prize.
Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., was six ounces behind in second at 48-4 to win $45,000. Two-time Classic winner Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., was third at 45-4 and won $40,000, followed by Federation Nation qualifier Terry McWilliams of Greenfield, Ind., at 45-3 and Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, at 44-5.
Duckett, who when he's not fishing Bassmaster tournaments runs a company that leases stainless steel tanker trailers, said he had found some fish in deep water during practice. When the Classic began Friday, he discovered that those fish had moved into shallower water on secondary points.
"I got a nice limit on a Rat-L-Trap, then I flipped all day," he said. "I was getting only two or three flipping bites a day."
Duckett led the first day at 19-14 and had the biggest bass of the Classic at 8-2. He did the same thing Saturday, but after getting his limit on the Rat-L-Trap he missed "two good ones" while flipping. He ended up catching 10-15 to drop to fourth behind VanDam, Reese and Terry Scroggins of Palatka.
Sunday, Duckett was back on track, catching a solid limit with the Rat-L-Trap. Then he flipped a Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw and got three quality fish, including the 6-9, which he caught at 2 p.m.
"I told my camera guy after I had my limit of bass that if I could get a 5- or 6-pound fish, I could win," Duckett said, adding that after he caught the big bass "I figured I had a real good chance of winning it."
Reese, who had 15-14 Sunday and caught the majority of his fish flipping a Chigger Craw, took finishing second hard.
He went into the final day figuring that if he could catch more than VanDam, who had 12-5 Sunday, he would win his first Classic.
"You don't get that many opportunities to win a Bassmaster Classic, unless you're Kevin," Reese said. "Boyd flat-out beat me. When he [catches] a 6 1/2-pounder the last day, you know things are going his way."