John's Journal...

Bass-Fishing Tactics with Greg Hackney

Fish Slow to Catch More Bass

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Greg Hackney of Gonzalez, Louisiana, one of the hottest tournament fishermen on both pro circuits, has finished in the top-10 in four tournaments with nine more tournaments left to compete in this year. Hackney won the Lake Sam Rayburn Bass Tournament, and so far this year, he’s earned $192,000 on the Bassmaster circuit and is ranked No. 1 statistically on as of May, 2006.

Question: Greg, what are you doing that other fishermen aren’t doing that helps you to perform so well?
Hackney: Well, I spend plenty of time on the water. I’ve been on the water probably 250 days each year for the last two to three years. When you spend that much time on the water, you get in tune with the fish. I know where the bass should be during their spawning cycle, the type of water and weather conditions that puts bass in certain places, and the color and kinds of lures the bass should be hitting.

Question: How did you win the Lake Sam Rayburn Bass Tournament?
Hackney: The bass had moved shallow into spawn a couple of weeks before the tournament Click to enlargebegan. However, the water was being pulled, and the water level had dropped throughout the entire tournament. So, the bass were trying to spawn, but they hadn’t finished spawning yet. Normally, when the water’s being pulled down, the bass will leave that shallow water and move out to deeper water. However, the spawning urge was so strong, and the female bass needed to spawn so badly that they stayed in that shallow water. They were a little harder to catch because they were trying to spawn, and they didn’t have much water over their heads. However, because I’m basically a very-slow fisherman, I was able to stay with the bass long enough to catch them. I was fishing a lot slower than the other fishermen. When most anglers fish for spawning bass, they sight-fish. However, the water was stained at Rayburn, and you couldn’t see the bass that were spawning. So, sight fishermen couldn’t spot these fish to catch them. I was fishing in a bedding area. Every fish I caught in the tournament had either just finished spawning, was trying to spawn, or was pre-spawning. I never caught a bass in water deeper than 2 feet.

Question: On what did you catch your bass?
Hackney: I caught every fish I weighed in on a Strike King Zero.

Click to enlarge Question: How were you fishing it?
Hackney: I Texas-rigged that bait without a weight. I was actually dead sticking the bait. I was fishing with 20-pound-test Gamma Fluorocarbon line. There were a lot of flooded bushes in the area where I was fishing, but the better bass were holding on bigger wood like willow or cypress trees. I did catch some bass off the bushes, but I caught my best fish around the big wood.

Question: What color Strike King Zero were you using?
Hackney: I used green pumpkin and watermelon.

Question: How did you get the bait to the fish?
Hackney: I made long casts and stayed well away from the cover I was trying to fish. When the Zero hit the water, I didn’t do anything. I just let the bait fall and lay on the bottom for maybe 20 to 30 seconds. I’d make three or four casts to the same piece of wood, and each time I wouldn’t give the bait any action. I’d just let it fall, lay on the bottom, and watch my line.

Question: How did you learn the dead-sticking tactic?
Hackney: I grew up fishing this way. I only use the dead-stick tactic in the spring of the year. The real trick to catching bass using the dead-stick tactic is the longer you can let it sit on the bottom without moving it, the better your chances are for catching a bass. When that bait hits the water, the bass knows that lure is there. When that bait just lays there and doesn’t do anything, the bass get aggravated into biting.

Question: How did you find the fish you caught?
HClick to enlargeackney: In practice, I was using the swimming jig. Some of the bass would take the swimming jig, but I had quite a few bass that followed the jig and didn’t take it. Therefore, I knew that the aggressive bass would bite the swimming jig. There were other bass that were non-aggressive that I couldn’t catch with the swimming jig. I remembered the trees where I had bass follow my swimming jig out but wouldn’t bite. So, on the first day of the tournament, I went to those trees and instead of fishing the swimming jig, I threw the Zero to them. What I learned was that by fishing the Strike King Zero, I could catch the bass that were aggressive, but I could also catch the bass that weren’t aggressive. Both the active and the inactive fish would eat the Zero. I made the decision to fish the entire tournament using the Zero because I could catch both types of fish. The more I fished the Zero, the more confidence I got in the bait. I stayed with that lure throughout the entire tournament. Using the Zero, I caught 35 keepers, and I threw back fish totaling 17 pounds. I kept the limit of fish that weighed 22 pounds. The first day of the tournament was the best fishing conditions, but the weather became colder and worse after the first day. Therefore, there were more inactive fish than there were active fish. Fishing slow with the dead-stick tactic with a Strike King Zero kept getting better and better.

Question: In your fishing, how much of the time are you fishing slowly?
Hackney: I believe I spend 70 percent of my time fishing slow tactics. I can fish wide-open, or I can fish dead slow. I already knew how to fish slowly before I started tournament fishing, so I had to teach myself to fish fast. My technique of fishing is pretty much opposite of everyone else’s. Most pro fishermen fish fast and try to cover as much water as they can. But I never fished that way until I became a pro.

Tomorrow: Finesse Fishing Pays Off

Check back each day this week for more about " Bass-Fishing Tactics with Greg Hackney"

Day 1: Fish Slow to Catch More Bass
Day 2: Finesse Fishing Pays Off
Day 3: Drag a Jig, and Drag in Bass
Day 4: Hop It If They Don’t Bite It Dragging
Day 5: Finally, Crank Them


Entry 356, Day 1