Hackney hauls in a half million Former Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year wins 2009 Forrest Wood Cup
By Brett Carlson - 02.Aug.2009
PITTSBURGH– At the 2005 Bassmaster Classic on the Three Rivers, pro
Greg Hackneyfailed to catch a keeper bass in two days of competition.
Four yearslater he arrived in Pittsburgh for the Forrest Wood Cup with
a singularfocus of targeting 12-inch fish. At the Classic, Hackney
gambled onlargemouths and came up empty-handed. This time around he
fished forsmallmouth bass, and the end result was a $500,000 payday,
the largestin his eight-year career.
began the four-day tournament in the Pittsburgh pool. On dayone he
limped in with just three bass weighing 3 pounds, 1 ounce. Onday two he
traveled through three locks, heading up the AlleghenyRiver, and fished
an area just below the dam. With perfect conditions,he stunned the
Mellon Arena crowd with an 11-pound, 12-ounce stringer,by far the
heaviest of the entire championship event.
“My best day of practice was three pools up, but I wanted to lay off of it until I had to,” he said.
area had a mix of everything a river angler could want includingdrains,
lay-downs, rocky banks and current seams. Flowing in from theeast was
the Kiskiminetas River, and where the Kiski met the Alleghenywas a
perfect seam of clean and dirty water. With the heavy rainsreceived
early in the tournament, the water in the Allegheny had only afoot of
clarity, whereas the Kiski still was offering 3 feet.
the seams were a major part of his winning pattern, Hackney wouldcover
water throughout the day – starting below the dam and venturingso far
as a half-mile into the Kiski. On day two he actuallysight-fished a
smallmouth off a log in the Kiski.
As the Allegheny
changed each day, so did Hackney’s approach. It maysound like
junk-fishing, but there was some method to the madness.
fish were on a rock break behind the dam. On day two we finallygot
enough current where they pushed off the dam into the seams. My keybait
that day was a 1/4-ounce Strike King spinnerbait in golden-shiner.The
golden shiner seems to be a really good color for smallmouths.”
just throw the 1/4-ounce spinnerbait. Rounding out his arsenal:an
1/8-ounce Aaron Martens Scrounger head jig with a 3-inchsoft-plastic
shad; an 1/8-ounce buzzbait; a 4-inch Ocho stick worm,which he rigged
wacky; a jerkbait; a 4-inch Strike King 3X Finesse wormon a dropshot; a
Strike King Rodent (creature bait); and a 3/16-ounceMini-King
spinnerbait. On his reaction baits, he used 17-pound-testCajun
“All of my better fish
today came off a hard break. This place hadeverything – current, mixing
water and structure. And to sweeten thepot, there were mayflies in the
overhanging trees. This all lookedgood, but it seemed wherever there
was a hard bottom is where thebetter fish were. Where there was mud,
there were short fish.”
Hackney’s junk-fishing, consider this chain of events.While fishing a
jerkbait under overhanging trees, Hackney hooked upwith a small keeper.
It came off, and the Gonzales, La., proimmediately threw out a
drop-shot. The fish bit but came unbuttonedagain, and Hackney
subsequently pulled out a buzzbait. Amazingly, theaggressive smallmouth
bit three times, and this time the pro winner gotit in the boat.
brutally tough conditions, Hackney calmly caught a 5-pound,
6-ouncelimit Sunday, which brought his two-day total to 9 pounds, 9
ounces.The most nerve-wracking part of the week was day three when
hecaught his biggest fish with only five minutes remaining. Up until
thatfish, he felt his opportunity to win was slipping away.
won the Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year award on the FLW Tourin 2005.
He also won the 2008 FLW Series East-West Fish-Off on FalconLake, which
earned him his Forrest Wood Cup berth.
“This is the best
day of my professional life. It’s been awhile since Iwon Angler of the
Year, and at the time I thought that was the best(accomplishment). Now
I don’t know. This is one of those deals where ittakes awhile to sink
in. This is not about the money though – it neverhas been.”
Hackney then pointed to the Cup and said, “That’s what it’s all about.”
Iaconelli comes up ounces short
Iaconelli had the winning fish stuck twice at the 2005 Classicon the
Three Rivers. Ironically, he also had the winning fish stucktwice at
the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup. Together, those missed fish havecost
Iaconelli somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000. Thedifference
between 2005 and this year is that Iaconelli lost thewinning fish on
day three this time out, not the final day.
On day four
he caught a limit weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces, and on day three he
caught only four that went4-12. Yesterday he lost two small fish, but
fish that would have metthe minimum 12-inch length requirement. While
they only would haveweighed 11 or 12 ounces, they would have easily
made up the 3-ouncedifference between Iaconelli and his fellow BASS
Elite Series proHackney.
“That was worth $400,000, and it makes me sick,” he said.
Iaconelli agonized over that missed opportunity, he acknowledgedthat,
for the most part, he fished a clean tournament. He started theevent
two locks up in the Allegheny. He switched to the Ohio during thefinal
round in an effort to target less-pressured fish.
first two days my key baits were a Jackall jerkbait and a Berkley Gulp
Alive Minnow on a drop-shot. The last two days the best bait was a
green-pumpkin 5-inch Gulp Sinking Minnow. I would cut off about a
half-inch, make a blunt end and put it on a 1/4-ounce Ikey Head jig.”
2003 Bassmaster Angler of the Year fished these lures primarily on
10-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line. Of all the pro finalists, he
probably had the steadiest pattern.
“I basically ran
around and tried to fish 100 eddies a day. I wouldcast upstream and
bounce the bait over rocks. Anywhere where there wasa backswirl, I
stopped and fished it. The current was heavy in theOhio, so the bait
had to be bulky for the fish to be able to find it.”
nine bass over two days that weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces, theRunnemede,
N.J., pro earned $100,000. He noted that the two Pittsburghevents are
the toughest tournaments in which he’s ever competed.
“It was just a grind, and I was mentally prepared for that coming in.”
journey that began at the Lake Champlain Stren Seriestournament last
July ended by the slimmest margin of defeat in ForrestWood Cup history.
Iaconelli fans will want to know that his popular“City Limits Fishing”
show on the VERSUS network will be filming inPittsburgh at the end of
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this confident in
my whole life, evenwhen I was fishing club tournaments. It’s just a
matter of time beforeI close one of these up.”
it’s surprising to see no full-time Walmart FLW Tour pros in thetop
three, it isn’t surprising to see a young Western angler do well atthe
Forrest Wood Cup. This year Cody Meyer did his best impersonation of
Brent Ehrler and Michael Bennett, finishing with a two-day total of 7
pounds, 15 ounces worth $75,000.
Meyer fished a drop-shot
with a 4-inch Jackall Crosstail shad and an1/8-ounce Mass Menu jig and
4-inch single-tail Yamamoto grub. Thedrop-shot was effective early in
the tournament, but the grub caughtmost of the fish the last two days.
Tied on to these baits was 8-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.
primary area was located three locks up the Allegheny, justbehind the
two islands. He skipped his baits along the rocky bank,focusing on
shady, overhanging trees. On day one he fished in theMonongahela.
would pitch the grub up under the shade lines and then bring it
backdown to about 6 feet,” said the 26-year-old from Redding, Calif.
Although he caught 40 bass Sunday, only three were keepers.
had more bites today than I had all week, but I knew I had to get
alimit to win. To me, it’s more fun to fish a tough tournament like
thisthan a slugfest. A keeper means so much.”
Meyer’s fifth top-10 finish of the season. His previous fourcame in the
Stren Series Western Division and the FLW Series NationalGuard Western
Division. His next tournament is a Walmart FLW Seriestilt at the
California Delta the third week in September.
“Just to come out here and represent the West Coast is amazing.”
2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion fourth
pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., finished fourth with a two-day total
of 7 pounds, 10 ounces worth$60,000. Suggs caught three bass each of
the last two days, hisday-four stringer weighing 3 pounds, 4 ounces.
Furthermore, he was theonly pro finalist who never caught a five-bass
limit all week.
Before the tournament began, Suggs was
dialed in on an offshore patternone lock up in the Allegheny. On day
one, he fished some water twolocks up the Allegheny near Iaconelli, but
his main area was after thefirst lock. Unfortunately, the rain and
added current ripped his fishdownstream. On day two he was able to find
success behind an islandthat broke the current, but that was only
“With the current, I had to resort to junk-fishing, or what I calltrash-fishing,” said bass fishing’s first instant millionaire.
day three Suggs retreated into a backwater area and caught
twolargemouths on back-to-back casts. Essentially, Suggs was at
acrossroads the last two days. He needed the water to come down
andclear up for his offshore smallmouth pattern to work. Had the
watercontinued to come up, he could have safely entered his
When fishing for smallmouths, Suggs used bigger, heavier tubes, which he Texas-rigged, in green-pumpkin color.
first to fifth was Alpine, Calif., pro Rusty Salewske, who
earned$50,000 with a final-round total of 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
Salewskeweighed in a limit yesterday, but caught only a single 14-ounce
bass onday four.
Salewske, who qualified through the FLW
Series Western Division, fishedfour locks up the Allegheny and traveled
the farthest of any pro. Hefound his primary area with friend and
fellow Western pro Brett Hite onthe last day of practice.
in the week he threw topwaters, but the last few days heprimarily
pitched a 1/4-ounce jig tipped with a Smallie Beaver intoshade pockets
along a seawall. He would fish extremely fast for 100yards or so until
he received a bite. Once he got that bite, he wouldthen slow down and
thoroughly work the shady area.
Salewske emphasized that
baits were not the reason for his success, butinstead the key was
figuring out where the ever-transient river fishwere positioned.
Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Forrest Wood Cup on the Three Rivers:
6th: David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, two-day total of 7-2, $45,000
7th: David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., two-day total of 5-11, $40,000
8th: Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., two-day total of 5-3, $35,000
9th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., two-day total of 4-9, $30,000
10th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., two-day total of 1-7, $25,000