John's Journal...

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

America is One Big Bass Lake

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, who, besides yourself, do you think has the best chance of winning this Classic?
Hackney: Kevin VanDam will do well in this Classic. He’s had two wins on the Elite circuit in 2007. You can’t fish at his level for as long as he has and not be considered a threat in the Classic. Unlike most fishermen, Kevin is getting better with age. Kevin knows he’s the guy I like to beat. I’ll be the first one to tell him that because I have so much respect for him. Kevin motivates everyone to fish at a higher level. If you don’t play your best game and have your best tournament, Kevin VanDam will beat you. When Kevin’s a contestant, you have to step up your game. Another competitor who has a really-good shot in this toClick to enlargeurnament is Gerald Swindle because he’s a run-and-gun type of fisherman like Kevin, and he’s done well on this lake previously. But the guy I really believe will win this tournament is Greg Hackney. I’ll never bet against me because I don’t ever know what I’ll do next.

Question: Greg, how much of your fishing is by a game plan, and how much of it is intuitive, just reacting to the situation?
Hackney: I’d say that 80% of my fishing is intuitive.

Question: What does the word, intuitive, mean to you?
Hackney: I’m comfortable looking at the water, the weather and the lake conditions and knowing how I need to fish on that day, in that spot. I’m also comfortable catching two or three bass off a number of casts and figuring out different ways I can catch those same bass using a different lure or presentation. So, when I put the boat in the water and crank up the engine, I’ll go with gut instinct, feeling or intuition more than I’ll use a playbook. I don’t know if you call that shooting from the hip or fishing intuitively, but 80% of my fishing is mental, and Click to enlargeonly 20% is physical. If I’ve got my brain clicking, everything else will be working the way it should.

Question: How did you learn to fish this way, Greg?
Hackney: When I was fishing the FLW and the BASS tournaments, I didn’t have much time between tournaments to practice. Sometimes I wouldn’t have any time at all. I’d leave the final weigh-in at one tournament, drive a couple hundred miles, go to bed and start the first day of competition the next day in a different tournament. Many days I’d only have one day of practice before a 4-day tournament. So, when you’re fishing that much and that hard in numerous competitions, you rely more on your instincts and less on your ability to plan and plot. Because I’ve fished that way for so many years, I’ve learned to rely on my gut instincts (intuitive feelings). I don’t know if I can fish like this if I’m only fishing in weekend tournaments for fun. When you’re fishing professionally, you learn quicker and become much-more confident in what you need to do, when you need to do it. You can’t become get that confident by just fishing on the weekends. As a tournament fisherman, I’ll be fishing many different ways on various bodies of water, and often I’ll be fishing a different lure and strategy every day or every part of the day. I didn’t learn how to do that when I was fishing on weekends. Click to enlarge

Most weekend fishermen develop hot spots they like to fish on their favorite lakes every time they fish. Instead I’m fishing from California to New York, and oftentimes, never fishing the same place twice at the same time of year. So, I’m forced to be a different type of bass fisherman than the weekend angler. The learning curve when you go from being a weekend fisherman to a tournament pro is huge. I didn’t realize this until I started fishing all over the country. I also learned that rarely are professional bass-fishing tournaments won the way weekend anglers on that lake think they’ll be won. A major tournament will last for 4 days rather than one day like weekend tournaments. So, you can’t be good one day and win. You’ve got to be good for 4 days. Most of the time in a pro tournament, we’re probably catching bass that have never seen a lure before.

Because we fish numerous places and lures under a variety of weather and water conditions, regardless of which lake we fish, we’ll have experience on another lake that’s similar. Then we can draw on that vast amount of knowledge. For instance, even though I’ve never been to Lake Hartwell before, I can catch bass there because I’ve fished hundreds of other lakes that are comparable. I look at the United States like one big lake, and every different lake we fish is like a creek arm. One of those creek arms may be clear and rocky, while another creek arm on that same lake may be shallow and dirty. But a bass will always be a bass regardless of which creek it’s holding in, and that’s the way I fish.

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Tomorrow: What This Win Will Mean to Me

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 4