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/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-26-beaver-lake-day-4-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

READ MORE »