BASSMASTER ELITE: Hackney wins wire-to-wire at Sabine River, pockets $100,000

Published 5:41 pm Sunday, June 10, 2018

ORANGE — Greg Hackney felt he had a chance to fish a good Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Sabine River.

“I thought I had the opportunity to have a good tournament,” he said. “I didn’t know that I would have a shot to win.”

Hackney, of Gonzales, Louisiana, was hard to beat each of the last four days. He needed only a 3-pound bag Sunday to secure a $100,000 first-place check as the last man to weigh in at the Orange Boat Ramp.

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His final bag — 7 pounds, 5 ounces. With that, the 44-year-old wrapped up a wire-to-wire victory, his sixth win all-time in the series and 20th top-three result.

“I think the big reason I felt I was going to be around a lot of guys was that it’s hard to win in a crowd,” Hackney said. “But, one thing that plays into that is, it’s a tough fishery. It seemed like those bigger fish were a little harder to catch. You could flip and just shell them. If If I had went out flipped today, I’d have gotten 40 bites.”

Hackney led by 3-11 or more after each round. His Sunday bag was 4-6 better than runner-up Gerald Swindle, a Guntersville, Alabama, angler who won the $1,500 Big Bass award with a 4-2 catch.

Swindle, 48, overcame a 2-pound penalty on the first day for having six fish in his live well. The daily limit is five.

But he worked his way to 31st place Friday, which was more than enough to qualify to fish Saturday, and was 10th going into Sunday. His second-place finish netted him $25,000.

Keith Poche of Pike Road, Alabama, was third with 43 pounds even. He pocketed $21,000.

“Anything on the Texas side is fishable water, but [Sabine River] is pretty challenging,” Poche said. “You have to factor in the tide, water going up and down, the fish are moving, [and] they feed at a certain time, so you’ve got to catch them right. So it’s pretty challenging. You’ve got a lot of small fish … and a lot of big fish, but it’s hard to find the bigger ones.”

Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Kentucky, earned $15,000 with a 41-1 finish for fourth place, and series rookie Jake Whitaker of Fairview, North Carolina, earned $14,000 with a 40-5 total.

Hackney said he caught his two best fish on a frog lure. An unofficial leaderboard showed he had caught only two fish several hours into the final round.

“I heard a bunch of guys say in the weigh-in line during the afternoons that it’s hard to catch a 2-pounder,” Hackney said. “They caught some 3-pounders and some little ones, but they couldn’t catch a 2-pounder. I caught quite a few of those little ones. Those 2 1/4- to 2 3/4-pound fish have been my key fish this week.”

And all it took, he said, was 11.6 gallons of gas during the entire tournament to win wire-to-wire. He added he caught 10 “keepers” in a 45-minute span while flipping.

“There were a lot of fish down on this end,” Hackney said while at the ramp. “We’ve been coming here since 2013, and there’s been a bunch of them dumped right here. I heard rumors the flood helped it. It’s Bassmaster that helped it.”

Hackney is third in Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 422 points, behind Brent Chapman’s 456 and Roy’s 427. The top 50 in the standings will qualify for the championship tournament in late September on Lake Chatuge on the Georgia-North Carolina border.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews



About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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