BASSMASTER ELITE: Hackney going for wire-to-wire win in Orange

Published 6:47 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

Special to The News

ORANGE — Before the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge, Greg Hackney had a total weight in mind that he thought an angler would need to win the $100,000 first-place prize.

After the first three rounds, he’s well within striking distance of that number — and if someone is going to pass him, they’ve got a lot of work to do.

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Hackney caught five bass that weighed 12 pounds, 14 ounces during today’s semifinal round and maintained the lead for a third straight day with 41-0. Alabama angler Keith Poche is nearly 7 1/2 pounds back in second with 32-9.

“Coming into the tournament, I felt like it would take 48 pounds to win,” said Hackney, a Gonzales, Louisiana, angler with five BASS victories and the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title on his resume. “I thought, if I could average 12 pounds a day, that would get it done.

“But you never know with this group. There are not a lot of big fish here, but there’s a few — and they can change things in a hurry.”

Hackney caught most of his fish from one area Thursday and Friday. But with the fishing fading in that spot, he went with a new game plan for most of the day today.

“I caught three of my fish from new water,” he said. “I went back to the place where I fished the first two days, but I ended up weighing only two of the bass that I caught from there.”

Hackney had the biggest bass of Thursday’s opening round with a 5-14 largemouth, and he landed two more that weighed over 3 pounds Friday. He managed another larger-than-average Sabine River bass today.

“I got real fortunate and caught a really good one at the end,” he said. “I culled a little-bitty one with a 3-pounder. That helps anywhere, but it really helps down here.

“Today, my other keepers were bigger than they were yesterday. I had four nice ones and then that 3-pounder was my biggest one.

Hackney’s plan for Championship Sunday is to continue fishing new areas of the Sabine River system and using baits and techniques that he believes other competitors are overlooking.

Though he won’t be specific about how he’s catching his fish until the derby ends, Hackney said he’s been switching baits often based on the terrain he’s fishing. A tactic that works at one end of a cove might not work at the other end.

Though he seems to have an insurmountable lead, he’s not making any assumptions. The areas he is fishing are getting worked over by other anglers as well, and the pressure has to be getting to the fish, he believes.

“I don’t have anything that hasn’t already been fished,” Hackney said. “If I did, I’d be fishing it. It’s not over by any stretch.”

Poche, a native of neighboring Louisiana, caught 9-3 today to move from third place into second with 32-9. He’s proved his ability to catch a big limit this week with a bag that weighed 15-10 Friday. Poche is followed closely by Japanese angler Shin Fukae, who is in third with 32-8.

“I’ve been starting in a spot close by the launch, and it produced for me today,” Poche said. “I was very thankful for that because when I ran to my place upriver, they were biting funny. I lost a couple of good fish up there that I think would have helped me out a lot.

“Between my morning spot and that place upriver, who knows what might happen?”

Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Mississippi, leads the race for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award of $1,500 with a 6-3 bass he caught Friday. Gerald Swindle of Alabama had the biggest bass today, a 6-pound largemouth.

The tournament concludes Sunday with takeoff at 6:05 a.m. CT from the City of Orange Boat Ramp. The final weigh-in ceremonies will be held at the same venue at 3 p.m. (click here for live video). Only the Top 12 remaining anglers will fish.

The Orange County River Festival, which features a wide variety of food vendors and the Kids Catch and Release Fish Tank, will open at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo is held in conjunction with the festival at the park . The event features boat demo rides, kids activities, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market.


**CORRECTED to reflect that the tournament was held on Sabine River**