BIRMINGHAM, Ala. It's been in Boyd Duckett's mind to join the BASSMASTER Elite Series Tour for some time and this was to be the year he pulled the trigger, but first he had to attend to more important things.
The 46-year old Demopolis, Ala., angler became the eighth Bassmaster Classic rookie to take the title, putting together a monster third and final day (17 pounds, 13 ounces) of competition to best Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam, two of the most accomplished anglers in the Elite Series.
Duckett also broke the home state jinx for Classic contention. Though he's far from a local Demopolis is 138 miles from the Lay Lake launching point he's a veteran on the lake through various team and individual tours.
"It's every anglers dream," said Duckett, a chemical tank rental business owner. "I've been working towards fishing the tour for a few years. I'm really tickled about the home state angle. All of us, Timmy (Horton), Russ (Lane) and everyone else talk and we all said how great it'd be."
Duckett, an accomplished river angler, emphasized how important his flipping bite in decidedly calmer water was in upping his weight after securing a limit early each morning.
"This whole tournament was about the flipping fish. The longer you keep a flipping stick in your hand the better off you are," Duckett said. "We've got a (full) moon coming up in eight or nine days and those females are moving up."
• Skeet Reese fell short of winning the Classic by 7 ounces, beginning a string of second-place finishes that he would parlay into the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
• Gerald Swindle's image as a brash, fast-talking hotshot took on another dimension with a tearful apology on-stage after he was disqualified on Day Two for unsafe boating. He brought down a hail of applause and cheers from his hometown crowd, and at his press conference an hour later, it was all he could do to keep from weeping openly.
Top 6 finishers
1. Boyd Duckett Demopolis, Ala. 5 17-13 15 48-10 $504,000.00
2. Skeet Reese Auburn, Calif. 5 15-14 15 48-4 $45,000.00
3. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, Mich. 5 12-5 15 45-4 $41,000.00
4. Terry McWilliams Greenfield, Ind. 5 17-6 15 45-3 $30,000.00
5. Gary Klein Weatherford, Texas 5 15-10 15 44-5 $25,000.00
6. Kevin Wirth Crestwood, Ky. 5 14-3 15 41-4 $22,000.00