GROVE — An Oklahoma winner would join a very exclusive club. That club’s sole member is Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala. When he won the Classic on Alabama’s Lay Lake in 2007, Duckett became the first to get it done in his own backyard.
“To win a Classic anywhere is unbelievable,” said Duckett, who has qualified for every Classic since that 2007 win with the exception of a 2012 blip. He’ll be back in 2013. “It’s sweeter to win in your home state and especially for me because it hadn’t been done.”
Duckett contends that a home-state advantage in the Bassmaster Classic can come into play, but not in the way that some people might imagine. But for the most part, he said, the advantage doesn’t exist. Experience on a lake isn’t enough in today’s Classic. Competitors are more highly skilled. Anglers are better than ever at picking apart an unfamiliar fishery. Besides, Duckett pointed out, the Classic is so important that many qualifiers devote weeks to practice and study.
“Classic waters have become like everyone’s home lake,” added Duckett.
So how’d Duckett do it? The short answer: The weather changed. Duckett knew Lay Lake well enough to know where the bass moved when the water warmed up quickly.
Such an overnight change, Duckett said, is just about the only factor that gives a local angler an advantage in a Classic.
“A home-lake angler can make good, on-the-fly decisions when conditions change rapidly,” said the 2007 champ.
Perhaps the Classic competitor most likely to bring such an advantage into play is Christie. He grew up fishing Grand Lake. He’s won, by his off-the-cuff estimate, 15 or 20 local tournaments over the past 15 years. Knowing a fishery that well can help you, but such knowledge can turn on you, he said.