Hackney Reigns at Pickwick

Greg Hackney

FLORENCE, Ala. - It was the spot of a lifetime - a shallow ledge, plumb full of "hammers" - and Greg Hackney found it just 45 minutes into his first day of practice on Pickwick Lake. For four days, Hackney pounded away on the spot to the tune of a 20-bass tournament total worth 97 pounds, 7 ounces. He caught a jaw-dropping day-two stringer of 31-6 to take over the tournament lead, then milked the bite through thunderstorms, gushing current and heavy spectator traffic over the weekend to make sure that he never relinquished it. In today's final round of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Straight Talk Wireless and hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau, Hackney pulled a 21-pound, 9-ounce limit off the school on his magic spot and locked up his first regular-season Tour victory, earning $100,000 and likely writing his ticket to this year's Forrest Wood Cup. The spot Coming into Pickwick, Hackney figured two things. First, he needed to find something away from the crowds. Second, because of the late spring, there might still be some shad spawning, and the bass could be a little bit behind. He was spot-on with his predictions. "My fish were pre- and postspawn," Hackney says. "It took awhile for me to figure that out, but I think today I possibly caught some bedding fish up on top, staging kind of on the side. And I caught a lot of bucks. "Everything is late," he adds. "I knew there was no way they've had time to get finished spawning and look like that [with fat guts]." Hackney located his tournament-winning spot early the first morning of practice. He was working around some shallow ledges that he'd been inspecting on his electronic map. When he dug in further, he found a ditch running up through the top of the ledge. "There was a high spot with a small break, and it had a massive mussel bed up top," he says. "The shell was on one side, but the other side was smooth. There was a ditch there, about 2 feet deep. When fish were staging, they were in that little depression [ditch] off to the side. It was real subtle." The spot was located on the backwater side of the main river, upstream from the bridge that carries the Natchez Trace Parkway across the Tennessee River. "In practice, I was cranking up that ditch, and at the end of it was an `oil slick' the size of my truck," Hackney says. "I thought, `That can't be what I think it is.'" It was the telltale sign of a bunch of bait losing a battle to a bunch of jumbo predators - 6- and 7-pound largemouths and 4-pound smallmouths hammering away at gizzard shad that Hackney estimates were 10 to 12 inches long. Hackney tried to expand the pattern to other areas and did find some other shallow schools. He even fished a couple other spots the first two days of the tournament. However, none had the real giants that he found on spot No. 1.Greg Hackney had to buckle down to try to defend his lead. The gizzard shad and schooling activity Hackney found some gizzard shad out on the main lake in practice rolling near the surface, which he assumed was spawning activity. Interestingly, he reports seeing very few threadfin shad in Pickwick, possibly the result of a die-off during the hard winter. The gizzard shad were swimming in larger schools than what Hackney was used to seeing. That extra meal potential was attracting packs of about a half-dozen trophy largemouths that would slide up from deeper water to gorge on the gizzard shad. Early in the tournament, including on the second day when Hackney blasted 31-6, he figured out how to make the most of the gizzard shad feeding fest going on around his shallow mussel bed. Whenever Hackney saw the feeding activity, he cast into the fray and experienced some of the fastest, most intense big-bass schooling activity of his life. "I've seen that before with like 4- and 5-pounders, but never with 6- and 7-pounders," Hackney says. "They were chasing. There were boils as big as the hood of my truck. It was awesome, like saltwater fishing." During the first two days, Hackney never made "the cast" unless he saw them school, and for as long as he could keep a bait in there, the action would continue. But the gizzard shad didn't show up on day three, and they never showed until the afternoon on day four. "I could sit back and wait to cast then [the first two days]," Hackney says. "When the school didn't show up, I had to make the cast anyway and try to get them to bite." The lures and presentation All week long, Hackney described his program as a 1-2 punch - two lures that he could use to ignite the school and make them bite. Today, he revealed those lures to be a Strike King KVD HC 2.5 square-bill crankbait and a 5-inch Strike King Shadalicious swimbait. He also caught them dragging or hopping a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Structure Jig in black-and-blue or green pumpkin. Hackney's presentation was also very unique. He was probably one of the only pros who was fishing a ledge with his Power-Poles locked down tight on the bottom. "I was in 5 feet on top, casting into 8 feet," he explains. "I made a real long cast and fished back uphill." Every fish Hackney weighed in this week came from less than 6 feet of water, while most of the pros in the top 10 caught their fish from about 10 feet deep to more than 20. It was anything but "typical" for a ledge-fishing tournament. "I think that's the reason these fish haven't been fished for," he adds. "It's because everybody thinks it's summer on the Tennessee River so they must be deep." The final roundsGreg Hackney On Saturday, Hackney's spot had changed. He'd worked them pretty hard on Friday, and there was a lot more current during the top-20 day Saturday. Hackney had to grind it out all day long to get his fish to bite. That meant actually expanding out and increasing his search radius, which is something he never had to do the first two days because the action was so fast and furious. For Sunday, Hackney knew there were still fish around, but he also expected he'd have to work hard to put together a big bag. His foresight was right. "This morning was definitely slow," Hackney says. "But this afternoon, the fish grouped back up. It was the first time they'd done it since the second day." He was never able to get the real big bites that he had prior to he weekend and lost one of his best bites - a 5 1/2-pounder - right at the boat. Hackney figures the big ones just moved out or got caught, even though the spot was replenishing with smaller fish. He reports catching some 4-pounders that were "as white as a bar of soap," having just moved up from deeper water to stage for a late spawn. Looking back on the tournament, Hackney recalled his original goal: to lock up a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup. That was his motivation to burn through some quality 4-pound-plus fish on his best spot back on day two, when he already had a 25-pound limit to guarantee his spot on the top 20. With that decision, he pushed his limit out to 30 pounds. Considering Michael Neal caught 25 pounds, 9 ounces on Sunday to make a run at the title today, Hackney's perfectly happy that he caught all he could before the weekend. That decision turned out to be a critical part of his win. "Since it's turned out like it did, I think I made the right move," he says, "and all that stems from me wanting to make the Cup."It seemed that the finish might have been close, but Greg Hackney To read about the lures and patterns of the top 10 pros from Pickwick Lake this week, click here Rest of the best 2nd - Michael Neal - 93 pound, 6 ounces - $30,000 3rd - Brent Ehrler - 92 pounds, 11 ounces - $25,000 4th - Troy Morrow - 86 pounds, 5 ounces - $20,000 5th - Robbie Dodson - 85 pounds, 15 ounces - $19,000 6th - Spencer Shuffield - 81 pounds, 3 ounces - $18,000 7th - Michael Wooley - 80 pounds, 11 ounces - $17,000 8th - Jason Lambert - 80 pounds, 1 ounce - $16,000 9th - Shad Schenck - 76 pounds, 7 ounces - $15,000 10th - Casey Ashley - 72 pounds, 4 ounces - $14,000 Complete results For complete results, click here. Kellogg's Angler of the Year update Andy Morgan remains perched atop the standings in the Kellogg's Angler of the Year race after the Pickwick Lake Tour event with a points total of 945. He will carry an eight-point lead over Repel pro Cody Meyer into the final event of the season on Kentucky Lake at the end of the month.

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-03-29-lefebre-lands-on-top

Lefebre Lands on Top

He left the dock this morning in 7th place, eight and a half pounds off the lead. And when he returned this afternoon, Dave Lefebre shocked the weigh-in crowd with a come-from-behind Walmart FLW Tour win that left his competitors shell-shocked. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-29-lewis-smith-lake-day-4-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 4 Coverage

Day 4 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-millsaps-wins-on-lake-sinclair

Millsaps Wins on Lake Sinclair

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – David Millsaps of Ranger, Georgia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Sinclair. For his victory, Millsaps earned $6,009. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-walters-nets-third-victory-on-wylie

Walters Nets Third Victory on Wylie

LAKE WYLIE, N.C. – Todd Walters of Kernersville, North Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League North Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Wylie. For his victory, Walters earned $4,350. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-mosley-on-top-at-arkansas-river

Mosley on Top at Arkansas River

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Brandon Mosley of Choctaw, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 the Arkansas River. For his victory, Mosley earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »