If you go to the big online fishing retailers or even stroll through a big box store, you’ll notice the shelves just about bare of fishing gear.
It’s related to the pandemic and Boyd Duckett, owner of Duckett Fishing based in Guntersville, said shelves likely won’t be back to normal until mid-December. Black Friday is usually a great time to buy that new fishing rod as there are some incredible deals. Duckett said that might not be the case this year.
“The deals likely won’t be quite as good anyway,” he said. "For the sellers, they don't have to be."
For people in the fishing industry, it has been a record year, Duckett said. That’s not just rods and reels. It’s boats and motors too.
The fishing industry, like other industries, tries to utilize efficiency in its supply chain. The ideal is to get just enough inventory to cover a month, then get another batch for the next month and so on.
“March came and we had the shutdown,” Duckett said. “My philosophy on that is we have a really bad flu virus. The epidemic is the political virus.”
Just as it was for other businesses, the shutdown was unprecedented for the fishing industry.
“We got no purchase orders in April,” Duckett said. “Then May came and people realized this was not the bubonic plague we’d been told it was.”
People were off work due to the pandemic and they needed a way to spend their time. They flocked to outdoor sports, including fishing.
The industry scrambled to keep up, but it could not.
“We base our orders this year on what we did last year,” Duckett said.
For the first time ever, Duckett got to the end of the month with no product to carry over to the next month.
And it wasn’t just Duckett. It was across the industry.
The supply chain is catching up, he said, but it’s going to be a bit longer before things are back to normal.
“Fishing license sales are up 40 percent,” Duckett said.
The big question going into 2021 is how many of those new anglers will stick with the sport. That promises to be interesting.
Duckett Fishing is now doing some direct sales through its website.
But Duckett said you likely won’t save money by buying direct. In fact, it could cost you more once shipping is added in.
“We never want to make it so customers can buy from us for less than they can buy from our retailers,” Duckett said.
He said the website is best for closeouts, when one model of rod or reel for instance is nearing the end of its product cycle.
Duckett himself is an owner of the Major League Fishing (MLF) tour.
The big news in recent months is MLF’s purchase of FLW.
“You’re going to see some rebranding of some of the FLW circuits,” Duckett said.
The combined organization will continue to be the largest grassroots fishing tournament organization with the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League.
The MLF tournament circuit had a shutdown of its own, but it finished its season this fall.
In addition to his work with Duckett Fishing and MLF, Duckett is a local developer, most notably of Duckett Point near Top O' The River.
Not a lot has gone on there in recent months due to a change in construction teams on the project. Duckett said they have finished up the infrastructure and people should see a lot of construction taking place there in early 2021.
Duckett looked at marketing teams in Nashville and Birmingham to market the project, but ended up going with Viz3DSpace of Arab.
They’ve put together the online marketing presentation for pre-sales of homes in Duckett Point.
“Pre-sales drives a project like this,” Duckett said. “We are at that point.”
A large sales event will be held on the property in the near future.
“Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Memphis are the places we are marketing this,” he said.
The sales event will get a group of prospective buyers together.
Duckett said it’s easier to get all the questions answered with a group like that.
With so much going on, Duckett has not found time to do much fishing on Guntersville Lake lately. But that’s okay, he said. September and early October is the toughest season on the lake.
He said the fishing should improve in late October.
“I really enjoy fishing November and December in this lake,” he said.