On Day Two, Hackney said he'd caught 60 bass the day before and probably 100 on Friday.
"For awhile, I was catching a fish as fast as I could get a bait in the water," Hackney said.
His problem was that he wasn't catching enough of the 4- to 6-pounders that made all the difference in this tournament. Hackney had 36-6 after two days at Okeechobee, which put him in seventh place and qualified him for the top 12 cut.
Of course, even knowing Hackney's reputation, I had to ask how he was catching them.
"I'm not going to tell you that," Hackney said. "But I guarantee you I'm doing something 360 degrees different than how most of these guys are catching them."
Maybe Hackney told me this, or I just thought he said it, but I was under the impression he was going to tell me after Day Three how he'd been catching them all week. But I couldn't imagine how Hackney, a noted flipping specialist, had been catching bass any other way in a tournament dominated by flipping.
Then I started thinking (usually a mistake) that Hackney had said "360 degrees different." Well, 180 degrees different would be totally opposite of what everyone else was doing, and 360 degrees brings you all the way around the circle to what everybody else was doing. Maybe Hackney was just playing mind games with me, something many of these Elite Series pros enjoy doing with the media, second only to catching bass. (It usually involves a bait that's similar to one made by one of their sponsors. In other words, it's not a good business decision to speak the truth in some instances.)
But Hackney took it to another level after Day Three.
"Okay, man, now you can tell me how you've been catching them all week," I said.
"No, since I didn't win, I don't have to tell you now," Hackney said with a smile.
I just looked at him with my jaw dropped, like the mouth-breather I am. Finally I said, "I just find that fascinating. The fact that you didn't win means you don't have to tell me how you caught 'em."
"I'm not stupid," Hackney said. "I'll be fishing another tournament down here someday."
Hackney added, "I will say that today I caught 'em like most of these other guys have been catching them all week."
Hackney finished ninth with 51-3.
I finished with a new addition to the "unwritten rules" of bass tournament fishing: If you don't win, you don't have to say how you caught 'em. We'll call it "The Hackney Rule."