Bass Fishing Pro Greg Hackney Reveals Weirdest Catch
When asked to name the weirdest thing he has ever caught with a rod and reel, Greg Hackney chuckles.
"I fought a wide piece of bark one time," the Louisiana pro said. "Every time I'd pull up on it, it felt like it was going to jump. So I'd hold the rod down. It was wide and about 4 feet long. When I set the hook on it, it was flat so it ran in the water and came up. I'd turn the rod back to make sure it didn't jump. I kept easing up to keep it from jumping. Then I saw it was a piece of bark. I felt like an idiot when I got it in."
The bark rivals another Hackney original.
"Then there was the time I was fishing an Invitational on Table Rock and I drew Todd Faircloth. I came off a ledge with a crankbait and caught a rock - one of those real porous rocks. So when the bait hung it, it fell off of the shelve real deep. So it felt like a real good one. Todd was on the front of the boat getting in position to help me until we saw it was a rock."
10 More Pros Qualify for '06 Classic
Lost in the excitement and drama of the recent Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh was the fact that several more Bassmaster Tour pros earned a coveted ticket to the 2006 Classic on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga near Kissimmee, Feb. 24-26.
The switching of the annual Classic from summertime to late winter allowed BASS officials to offer a few unprecedented qualifying routes to the 2006 Classic. After anglers earned their invitations with high, season-long performances in the regular Tour and Bassmaster Elite 50 series, the top 10 finishers in Pittsburgh also earned passes to the next world championship event.
Ironically, all 10 already qualified for 2006 Classic through other avenues (some had even double-qualified). So BASS officials went back to the regular Tour standings to select more qualifiers:
John Crews, Virginia; Jay Yelas, Texas; Ish Monroe, California; Jeff Reynolds, Oklahoma; Andre Moore, Arizona; Mike Reynolds, California; Tommy Biffle, Oklahoma; Brian Snowden, Missouri; Stacey King. Missouri; Jimmy Mize, Arkansas; Luke Clausen, Washington; Greg Gutierrez, California; and Mike Wurm, Arkansas.
Jeff Reynolds, 31, had done the '06 Classic calculations before entering the final '05 Classic news conference in Pittsburgh.
"I'm pretty excited about that," said Reynolds, who now has qualified for three of the last four Classics. "I just found out there were enough anglers who double-qualified (to enable) me to make the Classic at Toho. That was one of the major goals I was thinking about here. It was definitely important and I'm pretty happy about that."
Mize, 49, had given up hope of qualifying for the 2006 Classic, his fourth appearance.
"I didn't think I had a chance at all," he said. "I didn't think all those guys would double-qualify. I was pleasantly surprised."
Yelas' late qualification keeps alive his 16-year Classic contender streak, the longest active and consecutive record, which he shares with 2005 Classic champ Kevin VanDam.
"I wasn't sweating it too much," said Yelas, a 2002 Classic champ who finished 21st on the Tour this year. "I just needed a couple of guys to finish in the top 10 at the Classic and double-qualify. I figured the odds were in my favor."
Praise goes to three pros who qualified an unprecedented three ways for the 2006 Classic: Kevin VanDam, Aaron Martens and Michael Iaconelli. They are the top of the class in the 2005 tournament year.
You can bet that on the long drive back to his home in Leeds, Ala., Aaron Martens spent considerable time wondering, "What if?"
In particular, the reigning Angler of the Year was undoubtedly focused on a bass he released on the second day of the Classic in fear that it would not meet the 12-inch minimum length. The 1-pound penalty for bringing in a short bass would have taken him out of the running.
"It may have measured," Martens said. "It was a gamble. I could work it for a while and make it measure. A lot of times it would go. I've done it before. But it would have been a big gamble to do that.
"I figured with the amount of fish I caught (the previous day) I'd be alright. I didn't want to gamble myself out of it."
Martens came up a mere 6 ounces short of a win, and his decision is one that promises to stay with him for years to come.
It turns out that Edwin Evers took a novel approach to getting ready to catch the diminutive smallmouth of the Three Rivers area.
"I went float fishing in southern Missouri," said the Oklahoma pro, who finished sixth in the Classic. "When I go fishing for fun, I go canoeing. I really like it. It's real relaxing and the water's a lot colder. And you catch a lot of little bitty smallmouth doing it. Sometimes you catch a 2-pounder, and that's why I was going there."
Kevin VanDam doesn't consider himself overly superstitious despite the fact that he carries rocks given to him by his twin sons for good luck and he refuses to leave for a tournament without a batch of his wife's homemade cookies.
But VanDam carried one more keepsake into Classic XXXV in July. The VanDams were dining with Loudmouth Bass' Mark Zona and wife Karin on the eve of the event when they spotted a penny dated 2001 - the year of VanDam's first Classic conquest. VanDam kept it in his wallet for luck.
DID YOU KNOW?
Missouri's Denny Brauer holds the record for the most Classic appearances before finally winning the title. The 1998 Classic champion had appeared in 16 prior Classics.
Top western pros Aaron Martens (33) and John Murray (41) share Aug. 24 as their birthday. Georgia's Jim Murray turns 31 on Aug. 28, while fellow Georgian Tom Mann Jr., becomes 52 four days later.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO,
Classic contender Cliff Pace would be able to concentrate full time on his job as a roofing supervisor in Petal, Miss.
THEY SAID IT
"I hate losing. I hate not being successful on the water. It's tough. The fish beat me today and that's disappointing for me. But you know the one thing about professional bass fishing that I figured out a couple of years after I turned pro is you can only be (ticked) off for so long. And you have to get on to the next event," Former Classic champion Michael Iaconelli, who was less than happy with his fifth-place finish in Pittsburgh.