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How Bass Pro Greg Hackney Makes Winning Decisions

Fourth and Forty: Being a Hero or a Goat

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 the 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 abass tournament by becoming one of only two fishermen to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and the FLW World Click to enlargeChampionship 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, on the final day of a tournament when you’re in the lead, you’re like a NFL quarterback on the fourth down with 40 yards to go for a touchdown that could win the game. Time is running out. How do you make the decisions you make when you’re leading the tournament on the last day?
Hackney: Second place is a much-better spot on the last day than first place, because the angler in first place has all the pressure. Oftentimes the leader on the last day makes the most mistakes. In second place, you don’t really have any pressure, because you know you’ve fished a good tournament, and you’ll finish in good shape financially and in points for the end of the season tournament, regardless of how the last day ends. Therefore, you can fish to win if you’re in second place. I was in second place in the last tournament I won, and because I was in second place, I could fish to win.

Question: How do you make decisions if you’re in first place on the last day?Click to enlarge
Hackney: The last Bassmaster event I won, I was in first place going into the last day of the competition. I was confident that I wouldn’t allow myself to lose. I decided that whatever I had to do to win, I would do it. I was very fortunate that I was able to win.Click to enlarge

Question: What’s the difference, Greg, in being confident that you’ll win and confident you won’t lose?
Hackney: That’s something I can’t explain. In professional bass fishing, there are a number of bass fishermen who perform really well in tournaments, and there are bass fishermen I call finishers. The finishers tell themselves, “I’ll do what I have to do to not lose the tournament.” The anglers who believe they’ll win may start thinking how they’ll spend the money, what their sponsors will think and the glory and the fame they’ll achieve. Those are distractions. When you think, “I won’t lose this tournament,” it inspires you to fish harder than you’ve fished before and be willing to do all the things you need to do not to lose.

When you’re bass fishing on the highest level with the best bass fishermen in the world, generally, the angler who has the best mental attitude going into the last day usually will win. This reason is part of why Kevin VanDam has proven to be such a winner. Whether he’s in first place or 20th on the last day of a tournament, he’ll do whatever is required to win that tournament. Kevin’s not thinking about the money or the points, or where he is in the standings. He’s thinking about trying not to lose and trying to win. Although we all respect Kevin for his fishing ability, he’s proven that he has the mental attitude required to win a tournament, regardless of the place he’s in on the last day. I’ve tried to develop that bulldog attitude that says, “I’m not going to lose.”

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 5