In the long and storied history of tournament bass fishing, not too many angling pros have ever enjoyed a 30-pound lead.
And that includes Greg Hackney, who has exactly that kind of lead as he heads into Elimination Round 1 action for the 2017 Major League Fishing General Tire World Championship event.
Moments before his boat launched onto the 2,212-acre Lake Nacogdoches where Hackney boated 69-pounds, 3-ounces of bass a couple of days ago, he gave a hint as to his strategy.
Even with his virtually unprecedented and commanding lead.
But a lead that he also cautioned wasn’t an insurmountable one either.
“I’ve never had a 30-pound lead before,” chuckled Hackney before the day’s action began. “I don’t know how to act.
“My mindset? Oh, I’m going to go out balls to the walls this morning and keep my foot down (on the pedal),” he added. “Honestly, I know better with this bunch and I’m not going to do anything today that they wouldn’t do in the same situation.
“I know all of them pretty well. My plan is to (try) and make the most of it.”
When I mentioned that Hack Attack could almost take the flip-flops and sunglasses approach to this – sitting back and waiting until someone closes to within 20-pounds before he really gets serious – he
“That seems like a lot of weight – and it would be on certain bodies of water – but in the part of the country that we’re in right now, realistically, it’s only seven or eight bites,” said Hackney.
“I really feel that we’ll see the whole bunch get better just because they have eliminated some things (in their mind), they’ve had a whole day to think on it (the other day), etc.,” he added.
“That’s a huge advantage (to them) in this situation, how we’re going back to the same place again after having a day off.”
With yesterday’s change in the weather, Hackney isn’t certain of how he’ll catch them today, but as one of the sport’s best and most confident anglers, he is pretty confident in where he’ll do so.
“I’m not sure if I’ll catch them the same way that I did two days ago, but they are still where I left them,” said Hackney, noting the springtime spawning cycle underway here in East Texas.
“Not only was I catching them well the other day, I finally understood what was going on,” he added. “I’ll try to catch them the same way, although I don’t think that will be the deal today, but I do think I’ll catch them in the same area.”
“Because of the way that the water temperature is, and with it not being way, way hot, the way that I’m catching them, they are not going anywhere until they get finished (spawning) and they aren’t getting finished anytime soon,” said Hackney. “The water temperature is slowing that process down. And it’s also slowing down their activity level.”
Since Hackney found the fish catching action improving as the day went along the other day – he noted that the water temperature rose three degrees overall – he’s expecting more of the same today.
That idea would seem to be spot on since Hackney – who had a good day unfolding two days ago – had an epic third period as the water warmed and the light bulb came on in his head about what to do.
While he’s remaining somewhat coy about what he’s doing – there were plenty of eavesdropping angler ears nearby as we visited – he’s also confident that the afternoon bite should be good.
“That’s how big a difference there is between 62 and 65 degrees,” said Hackney with his trademark grin.
Meaning that MLF fans should pay attention early today, but they certainly should do so later on in the third period.
Given his commanding lead, will Hackney pay more or less attention to the SCORETRACKER LIVE! leaderboard as the day goes along?
“Honestly, this is such a different situation I’m in, I don’t know that it will affect the way that I fish (today) because I have learned something about the body of water,” said Hack Attack.
“In a one-and-done situation like in the past (during the first round of other MLF Cup events), you watch it (the scoreboard) to help you move and determine if you need to leave an area,” he added.
“But I’m in a different situation now (with such a big lead), so I don’t know how much I’ll pay attention to it because I’m not going to be (as concerned) with what they (the other anglers) are doing.”
After asking if I understood his point, Hackney clarified even further.
“Typically, I would be concerned with their performance, but today I’m not,” he said. “I’m more concerned with my performance. I know what to do and I’ve had a day to think about the lake. It’s just a totally different situation (with this second day on the same body of water added in).”
What if someone sticks a couple of giant 10-pound East Texas bass and makes a rapid charge up the leaderboard towards Hackney’s big lead?
If that were to happen, then when will the uh-oh moment occur for the Hack Attack?
“This is the deal,” said Hackney. “There’s the potential of one of them doing that (targeting big fish and catching them), but if they all get to doing that, it means that I will too.”
“I won’t be really concerned with that, because I feel like if you see everybody lighting up the scoreboard, then I’m going to be lighting it up too, so it’s not going to matter,” he added.
“I mean, it is what it is. But if they all go to catching them (today), then I feel like I’m going to catch them too.”
And since he did just that the other day, there’s little reason to believe that Hackney won’t continue his Round One runaway.
In fact, he’s hopeful that he can personally do even better than he did the other day, which just so happened to be the third best single day weight total in MLF history…so far, at least.
“Oh yeah, I could definitely see that weight being beat today,” grinned Hackney. “Again, especially now because (these guys) have a day under their belt.
“Either they found something that they are going back to or they have eliminated things that they tried and didn’t work,” he added.
“They are going to be a lot more efficient than they were the other day,” he added. “But then again, I am too because I’ve had that same opportunity.”
Meaning that as one of the sport’s top anglers – and seemingly dialed in and then some – Hackney is planning on keeping his foot to the gas pedal today on Lake Nacogdoches.
“To make it with this bunch and to have a shot at the end of winning the whole thing, you have to have that mentality,” he said.
“I’ve thought a couple of times in the past that I would be happy just making it to the next round. Well, that might be my second goal today. But my first goal is to win.”
Why? Because Hackney has a chance – and a good one at that – to win the first ever MLF World Championship title.
And that’s something that he isn’t taking lightly, even with a 30-pound lead in hand.