2014 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, AR, May 15 - 18, 2014

The thriller on the river

Arkansas River at Lake Dardanelle left some emotional wrecks

Greg Hackney
Seigo Saito
"I'm an emotional wreck," Greg Hackney told Davy Hite during a "First Look" interview before the final weigh-in.

Short of a Bassmaster Classic, last week's Lake Dardanelle Elite Series tournament was as much of a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire thriller as you'll ever witness in this sport.

Maybe we should have known this was going to be an unusual week when Chris Lane's boat was destroyed by a still-unexplained fire at 2 a.m. Thursday, hours before the Day 1 take-off.

When the tournament ended Sunday, there were some human casualties.

"I'm an emotional wreck," Greg Hackney told Davy Hite during a "First Look" interview before the weigh-in.

Facing a 3 p.m. check-in time, Hackney caught a 4-pound bass at 2:45, which gave him a chance to hold on to the lead that he had held the previous two days. Hackney won the second-ever Elite Series event, held at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in March 2006, and hasn't won since. He badly wanted this one.

Gerald Swindle's Sunday on the water ended with, "the craziest 50 minutes of bass fishing I've ever endured," he said. Swindle left the lake thinking, "I was destined to win."

Rick Clunn began Day 4 trailing Hackney by just 13 ounces.Rick Clunn began Day 4 trailing Hackney by just 13 ounces.
The master of all bass fishing masters, Rick Clunn, began the day trailing Hackney by only 13 ounces. Though he has 14 B.A.S.S. tournament victories, including four Bassmaster Classic titles, and 107 Top 10 finishes, Clunn hasn't won since 2002. He hoped to do so in front of his wife, Melissa, and particularly his two young sons, who hadn't witnessed their father accept a championship trophy.

Then there was Jason Christie, who won an Elite Series event at Bull Shoals last year, plus two FLW major titles. No bass angler had a better season than Christie in 2013. He started the day in fourth place, 3 pounds, 7 ounces behind Hackney. Christie said he didn't have any thoughts of winning until Hackney – the last angler to weigh in – came to the stage with a bag that hit the scales at 15-3 – 8 ounces less than he needed to match Christie's winning total of 72-3. Swindle had finished 4 ounces shy.

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