Greg Hackney reveals his winning approach to fishing tournaments, plus he lends insight into what it's really like on the tournament trail!
Glenn: Hi. I'm Glenn May with BassResource.com and I'm here with Greg Hackney. Greg, it's great to have to here today.
Greg Hackney: It's good to be here.
Glenn: Greg, when you're first preparing for a tournament, how far in advance do you actually start doing that and what are some of the things you start doing?
Greg: Well, this particular tournament that we're fishing in this week, I've been preparing since a year ago, like the February before, so it's one of those deals, I had a unique opportunity to fish this water during the same time that the tournament would be now, a year in advance, and was probably the only guy in the field that was able to do that.
I prepare for tackle. Worse case scenarios, I always start preparing months in advance every tournament. I'm prepared now for the whole year, per se. Like the way I've packed my vehicle, looked at all the lakes, the areas of the country. I'm packed for the best case scenario if conditions are perfect, or maybe they're not so perfect. The Internet's the best thing going now to prepare for anywhere you're going because the deal is you can find current, up-to-date information on that body of water from water temperatures to local tournaments that they've had, what kind of weight it takes.
I kind of look at that more than anything. And then I'll go back and look at past Bassmasters, or you can go on Bassmasters and go all the way back to the original tournament to find out all the details. You can archive all that stuff and so I'll go back and because, normally, what will happen, especially on a lake or river system where they've had more than one tournament in years past, every year, they've had different water conditions.
Let's say that this year here it takes 60 lbs., well if you go back to the one that Iaconelli won here, it took 30 lbs. or 32 lbs. But that was held in the summer and the water was low when the conditions weren't as good. Now, they're a lot more favorable. I take all that into consideration and I'll prepare for it to be 60 or prepare for it to be 30. Because you never know what you're going to get into because you never know, you can only predict the weather so far out, and it always seems like it changes.
I'll be honest with you, I'm really surprised here, this week we're having 75 degree weather. I was more than prepared to fish in 40 degree weather. So, you have to be prepared for that and it changes daily. Everyday is going to be different.
Glenn: So let's say you're having a tournament on a new body of water, you've done your prep work ahead of time, you get out for the very time during practice, what's the first thing you do? Do you spend more time driving around looking at your graph or do you plop the trolling motor down and just start fishing or what are the things that you do?
Greg: Normally, the first thing that I'll do is, I'll run that body of water. If it's a body of water that's not going to have maybe a lot of things that will suit my strength, I will run the whole lake and look for that. If there's a condition there that I'll get to fish my primary. I've always got A, B and C. There are a lot of things now that I feel like I'm fairly versatile. I can do whatever it takes if I have to, but I still have ways that I'm more comfortable with or I'd rather fish the tournament that way.
So if I know it's a lake that deep cranking is going to be the deal, I don't consider that my strong suits, but if I'm put there, I'll do that. But the first thing I'll do is, I try to run around and look. I look for water color changes, depending on the time of the year, if it's extremely cold, I like clear water. If it's extremely warm, I'll stick with the dirty water, they bite better that way.
Depending on the time of the year, I'll run the lake looking at the backs of the creeks. If this creek has timber in it and this one doesn't. If it's a lake that has a possibility of having grass, one of my favorite things to do is fish grass. So I'll run and look for that. If you're favorite thing is cranking points, you run look for that stuff first, before I start doing things that I'm, not saying I'm not as good at, but things that are second on my list.
Glenn: So you fish your strengths is what you're saying?
Greg: I always try to fish my strengths first because, normally all the lakes in the country are river systems. There's something there that's similar to a way I like to fish, but a lot of it's seasonal, time of the year. There are a certain time of the year in certain places that I'm not going to get the flip, I know that. There's not going to be any cover for it, but I like to throw a shallow crank bait, so I'll start to look for that. You see what I'm saying?
Or maybe the next thing down is, oh, I like to throw weightless worms. But I have them listed in what I would like to do first and then second and then third and so on. They'll be something there that I like to do more times than not, 99% of the time, and I'll be competitive that way. I normally find something the way that I like to fish, one of the techniques that I prefer to fish, that will make me competitive during the tournament.
Glenn: So it sounds like a good piece of advice for somebody who's just starting out on a new body of water, maybe never fished it before is just to look for areas that are just familiar to them and fish in ways that they're most comfortable with first. Before, when they look on the Internet, they might see, "Oh, here's where really drop-shotting works really well on this lake and maybe they're not a drop-shotter, so maybe they should try their strengths first before they try to move on to these other techniques?
Greg: Yeah, without a doubt, because I find one thing that happens a lot, a lot of times a lake has local fisherman and they fish local ways. And their big deal is, is just throwing a Carolina rig on points and let's just say this lake has big tree tops, isolated tree tops all over it, those fish that live on those places never get fished for and that's the reason, more times than not, when we go to an area, the tournament is never won the way that locals think it will be because our bunch will be there doing something totally different.
The fish have never seen that before and they bite a lot better. I'm not for sure how this Classic is going to turn out, but the locals here already have a preconceived notion, "This is the way it's going to be won and they can't be caught any other way." Without a shadow of a doubt, this group will catch them 90 different ways.
Glenn: Excellent. So in all these years that you've been fishing professionally now, you've mastered several techniques and you've learned a lot of new ones, what are some of the lessons that you've learned that you've been able to apply to your life outside of fishing?
Greg: To enjoy my home life when I'm at home. I spend enough time on the road that I've enjoyed too. I enjoy the travel. I get to see a lot of new places, but now, I really appreciate being able to go home to my house. The cool thing about this tournament though is I'm right here at home, so I haven't really been caught up in the rat race like the rest of them have.
Glenn: So when you first started as a professional angler, what would you say was one of the biggest surprises to you?
Greg: It's probably getting used to being away from home is probably the biggest thing because I had never been away from home for an extended period of time. Now, I don't necessarily like it, but I know if I have to go to a, I may go to three tournaments in three weeks and be gone for three weeks and it's just something that you get used to. It's not necessarily that I like it, but you get used to that.
Waking up at a strange place every morning, going to a body of water. I'm real comfortable going to a place that I've never seen before, like if you threw me on a place without a map, without anything but my electronics and my boat, I'd be right at home. I think you train yourself to be that way. Nothing bothers me. I'm probably more excited about places that I've never been before now, than I am about places we go to the same time because you know what to expect. It's really a cool deal going to a lake I've never been to, I don't know what to expect.
Glenn: Well, Greg, you've been a pro for a long time now, you've had several Classics under your belt, at some point, you started when you were a lot new to this sport and now, people are calling for the "Hack Attack" and asking you for autographs and stuff, has that changed you in any way?
Greg: Not really. It is, now I'll be in Wal-Mart or someplace and somebody will just recognize me. It's a pretty cool deal, but I'm the same guy.
Glenn: What I'd like to do is do a shameless plug moment right now and you can talk about anything you'd like to, your sponsors or say something to your family or friends, or anything you'd like to talk about.
Greg: You know the biggest thing, probably, we've really had some hard economy lately, the last couple years and the sponsors that have stuck with me and make it possible. Without these guys, without Phoenix, Mercury, Fishouflage, Strike King, Quantum, everybody on my shirt, I could not do this. I'll be honest with you, it's made it possible for me to do well, to continue to do well, because without that support, there's no way. I'd be doing something else right now, I promise you.
Glenn: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, Greg Hackney. I'm Glenn May with BassResource.com.