New Duckett Chapter Begins
Comeback tour continues
by Boyd Duckett
For almost nine months now, I’ve been writing and talking about what I’m calling my comeback tour. Everything I’ve done at a competitive fishing level during that time has been aimed at fixing what started going wrong a couple of years ago, then hit a low point last year.
The comeback tour was mildly successful before I crashed last week at Toledo Bend. Until last week, I had been happy with the way I’d been fishing. But I’ve still got a ways to go. I’m not under the Bassmaster Classic cutline, and the reality is that unless I win one of the last three Bassmaster Elite Series events, I’m probably going to miss the Bassmaster Classic for the second year in a row. This is not acceptable.
As I started trying to fix my fishing problems, I’ve been pretty open to say that a comeback doesn’t happen in a day or two (or three or four, even). There are no magic elixirs. You aren’t terrible one day and great the next. It’s a process.
I’ve also been honest about the fact that my business commitments keep me from spending as much time as I need to spend fishing and preparing for tournaments. But now I’ve taken the biggest step I can take to address that problem. I have sold my primary company, Southern Tank Leasing.
It will be tough to let go, because I spent most of my adult life building and expanding Southern Tank Leasing. We have terminals in five states and manage tank trailers that run all over the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest. It’s a big operation, and now I’m turning it over to someone else.
As you might figure, there is not one specific reason that I chose to sell the company. But I promise you that the main reason is because I want to spend the rest of my career in the fishing industry.
I want to get back to top form as an angler. And I want to make sure that Duckett Fishing does what I intended it to do when I started the company. I want to produce top-level fishing rods at a rate that every angler who’s interested in them can afford. I’m certainly not ruling out that we will expand Duckett Fishing to other products, but we’ll take all those decisions one step at a time.
Here’s another point that I should probably make. This is not about money. I figure a lot of people won’t quite understand that. But I’ll repeat this. Selling Southern Tank Leasing is about carving a little more time into my schedule and being able to spend my career in the business that I love, and that’s the fishing business; it's not about money. I'm ok there. I’ve been blessed in my life. I started early down a business career path, and I had good people that helped me learn how to manage a company successfully. I’ve done well in the tank-leasing business. And just like learning to fish at the highest level, that was a long process.
It’s going to be different. Going forward, I’m obligated to stay on as a day-to-day, but I’ll be phasing out of the tank-trailer businesses during the next 12 months.
It will take some time before I completely absorb what I just did. I spent more than 20 years of my life building Southern Tank Leasing and another 10 before that working in the tank-trailer industry. During the last 20 years, I’ve been the one guy that everyone else has looked to for answers. At the end of the day, it was up to me to make the decisions. So probably the biggest psychological adjustment I’ll need to make is to let go of the responsibility.
So what does this business decision mean for my fishing career? It means that I’m now all in.
I have tried to be careful to not use my business obligations as an excuse when I don’t fish well. After all, from 2007 to 2012, I made the Classic every year. So it can be done. But I’d also be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I haven’t spent enough time staying on top of my fishing game. The simple reason is that I couldn’t.
A perfect example is the Toledo Bend tournament. I wanted and tried for months to prepare for Toledo Bend. I’ve been there before, but every angler on tour will tell that body of water fished a lot differently last week than it has in the past. The only way to have had success was to study the water and the conditions through Internet research, pre-fish before the lake went off limits or to talk with local anglers that know the water well – or a combination of all three.
I couldn’t do any of that, because for the past two to three months most of my time has been spent locked away in a room talking with lawyers about the final stages of the Southern Tank Leasing sale.
I understand that can sound like an excuse, but the reality is that it’s what life has been like for a while. And as far as Toledo Bend is concerned, if you don’t fish and you don’t do your homework, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going crash and burn. I just didn’t get on them at Toledo Bend.
But the comeback tour continues. In fact, I’m on it now bigger than ever. And the second and biggest phase of this effort is starting now.