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A 'Classic' Rescue

How a father & son's tournament breakdown on Guntersville led to a meeting with another father and son. The dad who did the rescuing was one of the professional bass fishing's greatest names. This is a story about a guy who didn't have to stop and help, but he did.

Alabama's famed Lake Guntersville.

(Photo courtesy:

[Editors Note: The following story is true. No names have been changed].

Okay, most of us have been the position of being stranded on the lake when something broke down. If it's the big motor, we might be lucky enough to have enough juice left for the trolling motor to get us back to the ramp.

But, what if you're in the second day of a two-day tournament and you are in the lead, with a decent sack, and you start to hear a funny noise coming from the big motor.

Is it likely there will be someone who will stop, on a Sunday afternoon, to help out?

If you are Sam Tatum, fishing in his North Georgia Bass Club's big two-day event at Guntersville with his Dad, Darin, you are just hoping to can find someone to stop and pull you back to the ramp, which in this case was at Waterfront in Scottsboro.

So, with the possible winning weight in the live-well, Sam and Darin were stranded, hoping for a miracle, and that's exactly what they got.

What you don't expect is to have that miracle come in the form of a former Bassmaster Classic winner who has now become the top executive of Major League Fishing, the largest tournament organization in the world!

Sam recounts this day, which occurred about 18 months ago--on the famed bass fishery in north Alabama.

"We had our two-day club tournament on Guntersville and on Day 1 we had 20+ pounds and we had a six-pound lead over everyone else in the Club," said Sam.

"On Day 2, we go out there and the first thing that morning, we hear the motor making a sort of ticking noise that we hadn't noticed before. It was a 1995 Nitro with a Mercury 200 two-stroke that I grew up fishing in. We had, like, 14 pounds in the boat and we decided to make a run about 11 am and were fishing some spots and then on the way back, the motor just completely blew out and would not crank," said Sam.

"So we're sitting there in the middle of the lake, stranded, and I look over to my left and there's a guy on a jet ski with what looked to be his son, and I waved him down. He came right over and I was looking at him and I said 'Are you Boyd Duckett?' and he said 'yeah, I am.'"

Sam continued, laughing now. "So we started pulling out all of our Duckett rods and we're like 'we have all your rods and they're so cool'. After we told him our situation, he tied a tow rope up to his jet ski and he towed us over to his private dock."

Sam and his dad, Darin, had called his Mom to meet them at Boyd's and she and Darin went to get their truck and trailer, then drove it over to Boyd's house.

"They went through the gate and then backed it down his private ramp," said Sam. "We were able to get back to our tournament ramp in time for the weigh-in, and we ended up winning our Club Tournament thanks to Boyd Duckett, who saved the day for us!"

Not only was it Boyd Duckett to the rescue, but also his son, Eli Duckett, who was on the jet ski with his Dad. So, in a great show of sportsmanship, this was one father-and-son 'team' helping another. And there was a little bonus for Sam and his Dad when they got to Boyd's house.

"Not only did we get to see Boyd Duckett's rig," said Sam, "we also got to see Skeet Reese's truck and boat. I guess Skeet was staying there at the time."

Sam said they did make it back to the weigh-in just in time, keeping the five fish alive in the boat's live well.

So, how did the rest of the club members react? "They were very cool with it, and were impressed with what happened!" said Sam.

When Georgia Big Sticks contacted Boyd Duckett about this rescue on Guntersville (which happened nearly two years ago) he was kind enough to respond.

"Bass fishing is a special fraternity," said Boyd. "There's nothing that all of us wouldn't do to help our fellow fraternity brothers out!".

For those of you who may not know Boyd Duckett, his story is nothing short of incredible. After dropping out of the 11th grade, he worked many different jobs and businesses on his way to becoming a self-made millionaire. He was a true entrepreneur, with an impressive string of business successes he built before becoming a famous professional angler.

According to an article in the Shreveport Times, Boyd started out as a a body shop repairman, ran a tanker truck business, went to Nashville and became a big-time music producer (his company managed Tim McGraw, among others) and later moved on to owning a profitable catfish processing business. You can't make this stuff up--it's the classic American success story, based on hard work, determination, business smarts and personal integrity.

All this success happened before Boyd won the 2007 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake on his way to amassing nearly two million dollars in winnings, with more than $800,000 of that coming after winning the Classic and another major event the same year.

In 2010 he founded Duckett Fishing--and if you have any Duckett rods, you know they are made with quality and a price that won't break your bank account. Duckett Fishing, like its namesake, has a great reputation, not only for quality but for its commitment not only to innovation and customer support, but also for community service.

Boyd's latest success was, with the help of angler Gary Klein, creating the hugely successful professional fishing organization called Major League Fishing (formerly known as Fishing League Worldwide, or just FLW). Mostly, it was Duckett and Klein's creative new tournament format (that lured pros from FLW and B.A.S.S.) where fish were weighed in the boat and verified by a referee who rides along with the anglers. They are weighed and then immediately released, increasing the bass' chance of survival.

The pinnacle of Major League Fishing is the Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2024, Powered by OPTIMA Lithium, which ended two days ago on Alabama's Lay Lake, with Dustin Connell winning the $300,000 first place prize, one of the sport's most sought after championships.

So, the next time you think these pros don't care about the rest of us, remember what Boyd Duckett, arguably one of the biggest names in all of bass fishing, did when he was out enjoying a Sunday afternoon with his son on his jet ski. He stopped when he didn't have to--and he helped a young man and his Dad to a big Club tournament win on Lake Guntersville.

We should all be inspired by Boyd's unselfish act--and remember that when someone needs us on the water, we should never be too busy to help.

Boyd Duckett, CEO of Major League Fishing, took time out to help a young Georgia angler and his father when they were stranded on Guntersville.

Boyd Duckett (center), former Bassmaster Classic winner and now CEO of Major League Fishing, rescued Sam and Darin Tatum, who were stranded on Lake Guntersville. (Also pictured: Sam's fiancé, Katelyn (left), and his Mom, Sharon (right).

Boyd Duckett, on his jet ski with son Eli, pulled Sam Tatum and his Dad, Darin, back to Boyd's house on Lake Guntersville.

Not only did Sam and Darin Tatum get 'rescued' by former Bassmaster Champion Boyd Duckett, but they also got to see Boyd's rig and Skeet Reese's rig at Boyd's house. Ironically, Skeet finished 2nd to Boyd in that 2007 Classic.

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