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How Bass Pro Greg Hackney Makes Winning Decisions

Know When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Each professional bass fisherman makes different decisions on how, what, where, and when to fish. Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, once said, “The person who makes Click to enlargethe most right decisions in any bass tournament will win.” Strike King pro Greg Hackney of Gonzales, Louisiana, also has proven that he knows how to make right decisions in a bass tournament by becoming one of only two fishermen to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and the FLW World Championship in the same year. Hackney will be fishing the 2009 Bassmasters Classic in February on Louisiana’s Red River. This week, Hackney will tell us how he makes fishing decisions on the water.

Question: Greg, how do you make the decision to leave bass that are biting to look for bigger fish?
Hackney: I’ve gotten burned on this decision so many times that I rarely ever leave biting fish, unless they’re really-tiny biting bass. If I’m culling ounces, I’ll stay on that spot and try to catch a big bass. I’ve learned that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If I’ve got biting bass, I have to believe a bigger bass is in the region, if only I can catch it.

Question: If you’re fishing a lake, and your research has told you that you have to bring in 17 to 18 pounds of bass every day to win the tournament and you’re only catching 1-1/2-pound fish out of the school of bass you’re fishing, will you stay with those fish or leave?Click to enlarge
Hackney: I’ll leave. If I know I’m not catching the right quality of fish to win the tournament, I’ll leave that school of fish. But before I leave, I’ll probably change lures. If I’m catching 1-1/2-pound bass on a 6-inch worm, I may tie-on a really-big Denny Brauer jig to see if I can catch a bigger bass out of that school. I’ve made this type of change Click to enlargeseveral times when I’ve been catching little bass and have started catching bigger bass out of that same school. Often the smaller bass are really aggressive, and they’ll bite any lures you throw. The bigger bass may be less aggressive and want bigger meals than the little fish. So, you often can switch to a bigger lure, present that bigger bait a different way and entice bigger fish in the school to bite.

Now, I’ve had situations where the reverse has been true. If you fish a lake where everyone is fishing big baits, and the bigger bass are accustomed to seeing bigger lures, you may change to a smaller-profile lure and catch the big bass that haven’t seen small lures much. Of course, when you’re fishing a lake where catching bass is supposed to be hard, the majority of fishermen often will fish with tiny lures because they’ve learned to downsize their baits when fishing is tough. On this kind of lake, the bass are accustomed to seeing tiny lures. So, if you tie-on a big lure, you’re presenting a bait those bass rarely, if ever, see. Many times, by changing lures based on fishing pressure, you can catch big bass on a lake where catching bass is supposed to be difficult. You have to learn to fish in the moment and fish every lake and water condition differently from everyone else.

Tomorrow: Does the Weather Get Too Bad to Fish?

Check back each day this week for more about "How Bass Pro Greg Hackney Makes Winning Decisions"

Day 1: Fish Close or Run Far
Day 2: When to Change Lures
Day 3: Know When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em
Day 4: Does the Weather Get Too Bad to Fish?
Day 5: Fourth and Forty: Being a Hero or a Goat


Entry 489, Day 3