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A few weeks ago I said that I would be utilizing a personal scoring system this year at every tournament. It’s called the Saturday Scorecard.
The big-picture reason I’m doing this is so I can have a self-analysis process that will let me know if I’m fishing well, fishing poorly or something in between. The Saturday Scorecard is the rating system I’m going to use, and I promise I’ll take my time after every tournament to do this scoring system right.
Another reason I’m using this system is to monitor my fishing progress. I’m just coming off a year that I called the “Duckett Comeback Tour.” The Comeback Tour was successful. I’m at least back in the hunt. But I never want to have to come back from the depths again. I believe the Saturday Scorecard will keep me focused. So I'll chart the progress tournament by tournament.
The third reason I’m applying this system is that I’d like to develop something that will help tournament anglers at all levels. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, one of the reasons I started this column is to help other anglers. I know that many times in my career I’ve gotten advice or tips from other competitive anglers that helped me. So maybe these Duckett Exchange columns and the Saturday Scorecard will be something other anglers might be able to use.
I’m anxious to see how this shakes out, because I’ll bet you a dollar to a dime that sometime during the year I’ll finish around 50th in a tournament - but my Scorecard rating will be better than it is at another tournament where I finished much higher in the standings. The reason is that sometimes you make your best decisions and do your best fishing when you’re not on fish, and you have to work real hard to finish 50th.
In other words, it’s possible that my scorecard rating will be 35 at a tournament when I finished in 50th place, but my scorecard rating will only be 31 or 32 at an event where I finish in 30th place. That can happen, because maybe I make all the right decisions to get that 50th-place finish. Wrong decisions might have meant a 95th-place finish (as I had last year at Toledo Bend). On the other hand, maybe that 30th-place finish should have been a Top 5.
Ok, with that said, I chose to call it the Saturday Scorecard because Saturday is “moving day” at an Elite Series tournament. It is often the most important day in terms of making the right decisions. If you’re fishing on Saturday, it means you’ve already made the cut and you’re determining how you’re going to finish in the standings. Maybe you earn a Top 12 and fish Sunday, maybe not. Sunday is a bonus, and if I have a realistic chance to win, I’ll fish wide open with nothing but first place in mind.
When I introduced this concept a few weeks ago, I said I’d use a 1-5 points system in four key areas. Well, I re-thought the process and have changed a couple of things. I now will use a 1-10 point system that will examine five key areas.
Originally, I had Practice and Preparation as one category. After the Classic, I decided to break those up into two categories, because Practice is one thing and Preparation is another. My preparation for the Classic was good; my practices were something different.
So here’s how the Saturday Scorecard will look. There are five categories: Finish Position, Decision-Making, Focus and Composure, Preparation, and Practice. Each category gets a 1-10 rating.
The Duckett Saturday Scorecard for the Bassmaster Classic came out this way:
FINISH POSITION – Scorecard Rating: 6
There is no analysis to this one. If I win, I get 10 points. If I finish in the top 10 percent of the field, I’ll get 9 points. If I fishing in the top 20 percent (but not top 10 percent), I get 8 points. And so on.
At the Classic, I finished 21st out of 53 anglers. That gets 6 points. I barely got the 6, by the way.
DECISION-MAKING – Scorecard Rating: 8
This category ranks how I feel that I performed on the water in terms of making good decisions based on the knowledge I had at the time.
I’m not at all disappointed in my decisions, although I am disappointed I didn’t get good bites. But this was the Classic, so I was in a go-for-it mode. I made several decisions that would have been too risky during an Elite Series event, but it was the right thing to do in the Classic.
If you followed the Classic, you’ll know that a huge cold front came through that changed everything. It was brutal. I had fish in practice that simply weren’t there during the tournament, so I had to change strategy on the fly. I still worked my areas, and I stayed with them long enough to be convinced I wasn’t going to catch more than one decent-size fish. I caught one early on the first day, but that was it. Then I left and caught a limit: I had 12-11 the first day, more than 13 pounds the second day and less than 10 on the final day.
On the last day I went for broke. There was a slim, slim chance that I could get back in it. I would have needed to catch more than 25 pounds, but it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
At the Classic in New Orleans two years ago, on the last day I caught a 29-pound bag and came from way down in the standings to finish in the Super Six. I knew it could be done. As I result, I went after “new” big fish on Sunday. It was the right decision. I could have gone out and caught a limit, with better weight, on the last day and finished higher in the standings. But, again, you don’t do that in the Classic.
The decision probably cost me $2,000 in prize money.
FOCUS AND COMPOSURE – Scorecard Rating: 8
This category judges whether I was in control of my personal environment or not.
Focus and composure make up the 800-pound gorilla on Saturday at the Classic. And I felt really good about this part of my performance. I docked myself points, though, because I noticed a couple of times that I was rushing and over-fishing with the jerk bait.
PREPARATION – Scorecard Rating: 9
This determines whether I did my homework before going to an event. Did I perform focused research? Did I go to an event with as much knowledge as possible?
The answer is yes. I learned the lake. I pre-fished. I gathered as much knowledge as possible. And I went to Tulsa and Grand Lake comfortable that I probably couldn’t have done much more to prepare.
I docked myself a point on this one because, once I got to Tulsa, I spent too much time in the service yard with my boat. None of it was my fault, but I just have a feeling there’s something I missed with the boat that could have helped move things along faster.
PRACTICE – Scorecard Rating: 4
This assesses how practice went, and I’m extremely disappointed in my practice time.
That would sound odd to other competitors, because it was common knowledge that I had a practice day where I caught 22 pounds. That’s a winning pattern.
So I found a great Plan A, but I missed a lot of stuff. I wasted too much time. It’s almost always true that when you don’t find fish, it’s a result of poor practice.
SATURDAY SCORECARD RATING FOR THE BASSMASTER CLASSIC – 35
A 35 total is not what I would have hoped for. But, again, the Classic is a different animal than the Elite Series season. Scoring in some areas will be different from here on out, because the decisions in an Elite Series event that would likely be different than the ones I made in the Classic.
In a regular-season event, for example, if I found myself far out of the lead as the tournament was winding down, I definitely wouldn’t be swinging for the fences. I’d be trying to position myself for the points race. I’d be trying to work my way a few places up in the standings. I learned last year that just a couple of points here or there can mean a great deal at the end of the season.