John's Journal...

How I Plan to Fish the 2008 Bassmaster Classic with Greg Hackney

Please Lord, Give Me the Worst Weather You’ve Got

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: The 2008 Bassmaster Classic will be Strike King Pro Team Member Greg Hackney’s sixth consecutive Classic. Hackney of Gonzales, Louisiana, has been one of the most-consistent tournament pros on the circuit. This week, he’ll tell us how he plans to fish the 2008 Classic.

Question: Greg, what will have to happen for you to win the Classic, other than catching the most big bass?
Hackney: First and foremost, I can’t make mistakes. The fisherman who makes the fewest mistakes in the Classic wins. Often one or two mistakes will kill your chances for winning the Classic.

Question: All the competitors believe that when fishing in February, you can get really-cold weather or warm, mild weather. Which do you prefer?Click to enlarge
Hackney: I’d rather have the coldest, nastiest, rainiest, most-miserable weather with sleet, snow and high winds. I don’t want the fishing to be easy at this year’s Classic. I want bites to be really hard to come by. Bad weather is the true test of the best fisherman at the event. Lake Hartwell has plenty of fish, and if the weather’s warm and pretty, all the contestants will catch a number of bass. That’s where luck will play a larger part in producing a winner than skill will. If we go to Hartwell, and the weather’s cold, windy and snowing, the water verges on being treacherous, and you’d prefer to have your hands in your pocket staying warm than on a reel, I’ll have a better chance of doing well. The weather and the fishing conditions will defeat a big percentage of the contestants, cutting the field in half or maybe less. Weather also will slow the bass down and make them not want to bite, and if the bass aren’t biting, I’ll be fishing against fewer people.

Question: Okay, Greg, how will you make the bass bite when no one else can?
Hackney: Sometimes, cold weather does just the opposite of what everybody thinks it will do. In really-cold weather, the bass want a slow-moving bait that stays in its strike zone for a long period. This is the reason jigs and worms are usually the lures of choice during really-bad wintertime weather. However, many times, I’ve found that just the opposite is true. In many cold, bad,Click to enlarge nasty tournaments, I’ve caught bass burning a bait like the Strike King Series 3 or the Red Eye Shad. I won’t know what technique will work the best until I get out on the water.

Question: If your prayers are answered, and you get that bad weather, how will you dress to keep the weather from affecting you?
Hackney: I’ll have on my Cabela’s Guidewear rainsuit.

Question: Greg, how will you keep your hands warm?
Hackney: I’ve been fishing in gloves since I was a little fellow. I’m as comfortable fishing with gloves on as I am fishing without them. At an early age, a good friend of mine told me that the biggest bass of the year will be caught in the winter months, and if you want to catch those really-big bass and fish in the winter, you’ve got to learn how to fish in gloves. So, I’ve always fished in the winter with a pair of Jersey gloves. The gloves don’t hinder my casting ability, and I can fish any lure in the tackle box just as effectively with gloves on as I can with them off.

Question: How important will your GPS be in this tournament?
Hackney: My GPS will be huge in this tournament. This lake is featureless, so if I Click to enlargecan find just one little sweet spot out in deep water and be able to reach it every day of the tournament with my GPS, I’ll have a good chance of doing well.

Question: How are you learning the lake, if you’ve never been there before?
Hackney: I’ll know the lake better than some guys who have fished it in pre-practice. I’ve purchased a paper map of Lake Hartwell and thumb tacked it to the wall in my office. Every day, I’m looking at that map, so I’ll have it imprinted on my brain. I’ll be able to close my eyes at night and see that lake map. I’ll be looking for some type of tributary coming off the lake, and I’ll probably decide on which tributary I’ll fish before I arrive at the lake. Every time I’m in the office, whether I’m looking at the map or the creek, I’ll be fishing consciously or subconsciously and I’m learning the lake. I prefer the paper map to a Navionics map because I can see the entire lake at one time in a large form. I haven’t sat down and looked at the lake and decided, “Okay, there’s the spot I’ll be fishing.” I won’t know exactly where I’ll fish until I arrive at the lake and evaluate the water, the weather and the other fishing conditions.

I do my best work scouting when I’m actually on the water, riding down the lake and trying to see the places I want to fish on the shoreline or on my depth finder. I use the big wall map to gain confidence that I can get around on the lake and know where everything is positioned. If I find a pattern that’s producing bass on one arm of the lake, then I want to know from my map study and my time on the water what other arms of the lake have similar types of cover and structure in them. This Classic will be a pattern lake rather than an entire fishing lake. With only 50 contestants and a big lake, like this one, a fisherman can run a pattern, make a milk run and win this tournament.

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Tomorrow: America is One Big Bass Lake

Check back each day this week for more about "How I Plan to Fish the 2008 Bassmaster Classic with Greg Hackney"

Day 1: Why I Think I’m Consistently in the Classic
Day 2: My Classic Baits
Day 3: Please Lord, Give Me the Worst Weather You’ve Got
Day 4: America is One Big Bass Lake
Day 5: What This Win Will Mean to Me


Entry 442, Day 3