Around January of every year, Mercury pro Greg Hackney sits down at his home in Gonzalez, La., and makes a checklist of goals for the upcoming bass season. The Top-3 list for the 2014 season was the same as it’s always been: Qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, win an event on one of the two major tours (the B.A.S.S. Elite Series or FLW Tour), and win an Angler of the Year title.
Check: easily qualified for the 2015 Classic. Double check: won an FLW Tour event on Pickwick Lake and an Elite Series event on Cayuga Lake. And as of Monday in Escanaba, Michigan, the final (and perhaps the biggest) check on the “Hack Attack’s” list for 2014.
Hackney is your new Bassmaster Toyota Angler of the Year.
Hackney finished 24th at the Angler of the Year Championship on the Bays de Noc (Lake Michigan) on Monday to finish the 2014 Elite Series season with 741 points, good enough to hold off late-season charges by Todd Faircloth and fellow Mercury pros Jacob Powroznik and Aaron Martens and secure Hackney the coveted Toyota AOY hardware and a $100,000 payday.
“It seems like I’ve been hunting this my whole life,” an emotional Hackney admitted to the Escanaba crowd. “My family sacrifices a lot for me to be able to do this, and it really means a lot to me. I’ve probably never been emotional like I have been for this. I was excited when I won the Forrest Wood Cup (in 2009), but that just meant that I was the best guy for one week. An Angler of the Year means that I was the best guy for a whole season. These guys are the best in the world. It’s an honor to be considered the best of the best.”
Hackney had entered the AOY Championship 4 points ahead of Martens and 17 points ahead of Faircloth but saw Faircloth creep closer on Day 1 as the Texan’s 20-15 bag cut 7 points off of Hackney’s lead heading into Day 2. And then Mother Nature stepped in: high south/southwest winds caused B.A.S.S. officials to cancel competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, turning the AOY Championship into a two-day event. Hackney responded, weighing 17-2 to maintain his championship lead.
“I never get nervous when I’m fishing, but the time off – the three days of just waiting to fish – were pretty tough,” Hackney admitted. “I can’t lie: I’ve been thinking about the AOY almost nonstop since even before Cayuga. I’ve been a little bit of a wreck this week.”
The AOY finishes what Hackney describes as “my best season, by far.” He picked up his first-ever FLW Tour win in early June with nearly 100 pounds on Pickwick, won the Elite Series regular-season finale in August at Cayuga, finished the Elite schedule with four Top-10s in the final six tournaments, and banked $340,000 in tournament winnings between the two tours.
“I’ve had a blessed season … really, a blessed career,” Hackney said. “When I won the Forrest Wood Cup, I said onstage that it was the greatest day of my life. I don’t know, I might have a new ‘best day’ after today.”
Hack toughed it out on both tours: Hackney’s Mercury 250 Mercury OptiMax ProXS and Phoenix 920 were put to the ultimate stress test during the 2014 season, as Hack racked up hundreds and hundreds of hours on the big motor in over 90 tournament days on the water (over 40 practice days, 30 tournament days on the Elites, 16 days on the FLW Tour), in some of the most rugged conditions imaginable.
“A year of fishing like I put on my boat, it’s like what most guys put on their motor in four, maybe five years,” Hackney said. “Plus, you have to add all the days I fished when I wasn’t fishing a tournament. That motor performed flawlessly, and I ran it like I stole it. I don’t abuse my equipment, but I darn sure put it to the test, and that motor ran flawlessly. I’ve run basically the same big motor for nine years – I have the utmost confidence in it.”
Notes: Hackney had six Top 10s during the 2014 B.A.S.S./FLW season, bringing his career total to 50 … Hackney’s Toyota AOY is the second major AOY of his career: he won the FLW Tour AOY in 2005 … After failing to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, Hackney double qualified for the 2015 Classic, both through AOY points and his win at Cayuga.
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