Hackney Pours it On

Greg Hackney extended his lead on day three with a 22-4 limit.

Greg Hackney FLORENCE, Ala. - There was no 30-pound mega-limit weighed in today in Florence, Ala., but tournament leader Greg Hackney still hauled in a 22-pound, 4-ounce stringer from Pickwick Lake on a day that nine of the top 10 pros described as a grind. Hackney's three-day total is 75 pounds, 14 ounces, which extends his lead to 7-13 over California ace Brent Ehrler, who weighed an identical limit as Hackney's today. Hackney will be boat No. 1 on the final day of this Walmart FLW Tour showdown, which is presented by Straight Talk Wireless. Interestingly, the one piece of the puzzle that most anglers have been looking for this week is current, and today the Tennessee River was ripping in the wake of two afternoon thunderstorms that drenched the Tennessee Valley at the end of the workweek. Coupled with a water-level rise, the current turned out to be too much of a good thing, and Hackney's magic 30-pound spot didn't fire today like it did yesterday. "There was a lot of current," Hackney says. "You'd think that would have helped. Maybe I caught too many [yesterday]. It was OK today, but it took me all day to catch them." The Gonzales, La., pro revealed a few more details about his best spot today. It's a 1 1/2-foot break topped with a "live" mussel shell bed. He knows it's a live one because he'll occasionally catch snails, and when he does, he knows he's on the juice. Greg Hackney shows off the bounty. Mussel beds are nothing new to ledge fisherman on the Tennessee River, but this one has an extra ingredient that sweetens the deal for Pickwick's biggest largemouths: giant gizzard shad. As in, gizzard shad so big that Hackney hasn't even found a bait big enough to "match the hatch." The 5-pound-plus "hammers" are choking down the jumbo baitfish whenever they slide up onto the structure. When it goes down, Hackney fires in with one of two unidentified lures, and the action is extremely fast. In Hackney's experience, gizzard shad most often swim in small packs. On this spot, there have been hundreds. Today, however, instead of piling onto the 15-yard sweet spot, the gizzard shad seemed to vanish, and Hackney had to spread out his search down a 200-yard stretch of structure. "I never saw any bait activity," says Hackney. "I saw some skipjack, but they're usually singles. The big gizzard shad just never got there." Hackney committed to his primary spot almost the entire day, culling just one fish on a secondary area in the afternoon. The slower bite forced him to expand out and learn more about how the fish are setting up, which could help him on Sunday if the school doesn't fire like it did earlier in the week. "Today's the first one that I've spent any time on them," he says. "[Yesterday], it happened so quick. I had probably fished four hours there the first two days. Today it was `normal,' and I was still at it at the end of the day. In the last hour, I made a big loop, hoping to uncover some type of little subtlety." Hackney left the spot on day two with 4-pounders still biting like crazy. Today, he hauled in more than 22 pounds. So he knows the spot has potential again tomorrow, though if the gizzard shad activity doesn't pick up again, he says the spot will just become one more in the rotation. "I've got a couple other spots I can go to," he says. "A couple I was really excited about. I just didn't need them [earlier in the week]." 2nd place - Brent Ehrler - 68 pounds, 1 ounce Brent Ehrler Most pros expected angling pressure to dissipate over the weekend, with all but the top 20 Tour pros on the water on Saturday and just 10 on Sunday. However, former Forrest Wood Cup champion Brent Ehrler, who caught 22 pounds, 4 ounces today, actually experienced an increase in angling pressure from anglers competing in local tournaments, along with recreational anglers taking advantage of this wonderful fishery. Ehrler says he's rotating through a series of about 15 spots. His fish aren't roaming, like they are on some of the larger ledges that house Pickwick's mega-schools. Instead, they're pegged on precise sweet spots that are holding the schools tight. As a result, the extra pressure is wearing on the bass and him. "I thought the spots were going to rest, but I showed a lot of good spots to people," Ehrler says. Also concerning for him is the location of his best spots. He's fishing two areas that are separated by a long boat ride, so if he wants to escape the crowd, he has to dedicate a big chunk of fishing time to travel. As for the fishing, Ehrler's among the group that believes the current was actually too strong today. "We had a lot of current, and I thought they'd snap today," he says. "But there was too much current for too long. It ran last night, and they pulled a lot. If they'd started it in the morning, the sudden change could have helped the bite." Ehrler's doing his best to key on out-of-the-way structures that aren't obvious on the map. Swimbaits and other staple ledge lures have done all his damage, and tomorrow, he plans to re-work his best stuff, along with a few schools he hasn't touched yet. "I haven't hit two spots that have a lot of fish on them," he says. "I've definitely saved some areas, but I don't know how big they are on those spots." 3rd place - Michael Neal - 67 pounds, 13 ounces A lot of balance beams were given a workout in the second round, including this one in Michael Neal "A lot of current and no bites." That's how sophomore pro Michael Neal described his morning today. "I thought when we took off it was going to be real good," says Neal, who weighed in 20 pounds, 4 ounces today. "I wish it [the current] wasn't ripping that much because I'm sitting at the bottom of a ledge and casting up on top. It's hard to line up the cast to get it to land on the spot." The current was sweeping so hard across Neal's ledges today that it pulled his line and sinking lure off the sweet spots where the fish are set up before it hit bottom. That's a challenge, considering the size of the targets he's trying to hit. "The schools are big, but not in a great big area," he explains. "When you see them on the graph, they're stacked up 5, 6, even 7 feet up, but the school's not but 20 feet wide." Neal countered the slow bite this morning with a drop-shot and other slower-moving lures, picking up one fish here and one fish there. His break finally came in late morning when he ignited a school with a swimbait. "I was really scratching my head at 10:30," he says. "Then I had one little flurry and caught everything I weighed." Neal's fish today came from spots he'd been hoping to fish all week, but couldn't get on with the full field on the water. He ran all the way to Tennessee waters at Pickwick's lower end the first two days. He opted to stay farther upstream today because the extreme lower end, while it has great schools of fish, has fewer schools of fish. Neal accurately anticipated an increase in traffic from local tournaments today and decided to stay where he'd have more schools to himself. Tomorrow, however, he's making the long run once again and hoping to get on the mid-20-pound bite he uncovered Thursday and Friday. 4th place - Troy Morrow - 65 pounds, 11 ounces Two of Troy Morrow If day three was moving day, Georgia pro Troy Morrow made the longest haul of all. He caught a 27-pound limit to rocket up the standings from 18th place to fourth and secured himself a spot on Sunday. Morrow's limit today was easily the biggest in the field, but when this derby ends he might be kicking himself about what could have been. On Thursday, he stopped in an area upstream of the Natchez Trace Parkway where two schools of fish are set up on very subtle structures. Morrow sacked up 16 pounds, 1 ounce then made the long run down to Pickwick's lower end, burning more than $100 in fuel and failing to upgrade his limit. On Friday, Morrow committed himself to the two schools all day and weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces. He did the same today, camping on the spot so long that when he went from one school to the other, he fired up his big motor and made a few laps just to give his cranking/electronics battery a charge. The results speak to the quality of fish he's found. "I was catching them really good in the morning, then a couple here and there," he says, indicating that the fish are not staying put all day long. "You just hope you make the little move at the right time, and today I made the right cast late in the day and caught two big ones." The most interesting part about Morrow's schools is how he found them. In practice, he noticed individual fish on his graph - not the big schools most anglers are finding. Often, he thinks anglers mistake those isolated marks to be bass, when they're really catfish or drum, or they ignore them in favor of the more obvious schools. He's gotten pretty good at identifying fish species using Lowrance DownScan but still prefers to drop an underwater camera for verification. What he saw when he dunked the camera was a school of big bass. "There's rock on one spot," Morrow explains. "That's the reason it's so hard to see them on the depth finder." In case you didn't know it, Morrow is a whiz with an underwater camera. He used one to find his Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American winning fish back in 2010, used it again to make the top 10 at the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup and has relied on it in just about every clear-water tournament he's fished since. Morrow is dragging the bass off his spots with a Zoom Magnum Ol' Monster ribbon-tail worm in the mornings, grinding it out for about one keeper per day on a crankbait, then filling in with a Carolina rig and shaky head as needed. As for tomorrow, Morrow knows where to find some fish at the lower end, and there's temptation to go try and catch them. But he's not giving in unless he has to. "I don't think I want to do that," he says. "I think I want to live or die on this spot, and be a hero or a zero. Obviously, they're moving in and out. I hope they're replenishing. I don't know where they're coming from if they are replenishing, but I hope they are." 5th place - Jason Lambert - 61 pounds, 6 ounces Jason Lambert struggled through much of the first part of the day in round three, but he was fishing for big bites and they came in the afternoon. Local pro Jason Lambert made his second FLW top 10 on the Tennessee River in as many weeks. He finished second in last week's Rayovac FLW Series event on Kentucky Lake and goes into the final day on Pickwick in fifth place thanks to a 21-pound, 14-ounce limit caught today. Much like Neal, Lambert didn't experience much action early. "It was slow until about 12," he says. "Then I started catching them pretty good for two hours. I had about 13 pounds at 12, then I caught a 6 1/2 and a 3." The key to Lambert's grind today was old-school endurance: Keep a lure in the water as much as possible, and when they fire, catch them as fast as you can. He fished 40 schools today, including three or four that he had all to himself. On each stop, Lambert never made a cast until he found the school with his electronics, then he reached first for a swimbait. What he's looking for on his electronics is a wadded-up school because when they're bunched, they're more likely to be active. "They're big schools on small spots," he says. "If they're spread out, most of the time I don't fish for them." Lambert's waypoints are on a variety of traditional summertime structures: points, shell beds, creek mouths, ridges, etc. Most of his attention is directed toward the down-current side. Going into Sunday, the Pickwick Lake local is facing an almost insurmountable deficit of 14 pounds, 8 ounces behind tournament-leader Greg Hackney. But he's not changing up anything. This spring, Pickwick was on fire, according to Lambert. And yesterday, the big limits brought in were reminiscent of what was going down on this lake just a few weeks ago. Knowing that the potential for a big bag is out there, Lambert's going to sample as many schools as he can and see if he can make some noise from the middle of the pack. "I'm going to cover a lot of water and hit a bunch of places until I find something to get them fired up," he says. The rest of the best 6th place - Robbie Dodson - 61 pounds, 3 ounces 7th place - Spencer Shuffield - 60 pounds, 13 ounces 8th place - Michael Wooley - 60 pounds, 1 ounce 9th place - Casey Ashley - 58 pounds, 13 ounces 10th place - Shad Schenck - 58 pounds, 13 ounces Full results For full results, click here. Competition format In Walmart FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in, and the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days. For more coverage For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the "On the Water" banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages. Walmart FLW Tour event information Takeoff Location: McFarland Park, 200 James M. Spain Drive, Florence, Ala. Time: 6:30 a.m. Weekend weigh-ins Location: Walmart, 2701 Cloverdale Road, Florence, Ala. Time: 4 p.m. FLW Expo Date: Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8 Location: Walmart, 2701 Cloverdale Road, Florence, Ala. Time: noon to 4 p.m. Admission: FREE Free Concert: See country star Chris Janson live in concert Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is free. Follow FLW For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Walmart FLW Tour on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ledges-lift-wilson-to-top

Ledges Lift Wilson to Top

Tim Wilson of Gas City, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Guntersville. For his victory, Wilson earned $5,584. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-two-in-a-row-for-fox

Two in a Row for Fox

Dwight Fox of Gainesboro, Tennessee, weighed four bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Fox earned $4,463. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-bluff-walls-carry-meredith

Bluff Walls Carry Meredith

GROVE, Okla. – Mitch Meredith of Hulbert, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Meredith earned $7,165. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-tidwell-slows-down-for-title

Tidwell Slows Down for Title

MCCORMICK, S.C. – Brian Tidwell of Seneca, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Tidwell earned $3,021. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ginter-gets-the-win

Ginter Gets the Win

CELINA, Ohio – Gary Ginter of Maplewood, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Ginter earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-jig-does-the-trick-for-roselle

Jig Does the Trick for Roselle

MARBURY, Md. – Mike Roselle of La Plata, Maryland, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Potomac River. For his victory, Roselle earned $6,235. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-day-4-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-morrow-thrift-neck-and-neck

Morrow, Thrift Neck and Neck

Georgia pro Troy Morrow brought in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula to increase his tournament total to 54-13. Morrow maintains his lead for the second consecutive day, but he won’t sleep comfortably tonight with North Carolina hammer Bryan Thrift just 4 ounces off the lead with 54-09. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 3

Troy Morrow is leading the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. However, with one day left to fish, he has a big problem going into the last day: Bryan Thrift. The Shelby, N.C., pro is just 4 ounces behind Morrow. Here’s how Thrift and the rest of the top five caught their fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-lake-eufaula-day-3-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »