Greg Hackney won the inaugural Bassmaster Rookie of the Year award in 2004, narrowly missing out on Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors. Already a member of the BASS Millionaire's Club, Hackney has made his mark on the Tournament Trail with 28 Top 10 finishes and 3 wins in just 78 career entries. In 2009 he'll be fishing his 7th straight Bassmaster Classic and is picked by many of his fellow pros as the favorite to win it. Here's how he answered his 20 questions:
1. Where are you from, originally?
Star City, Ark.
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
My father took me pond fishing and to the Arkansas River when I was a boy.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
Rick Clunn, by far. When he won the 1984 Classic, it was at Pine Bluff, which is 45 minutes away from where I was living at the time. I was 11 then, and went over there the last day of the weigh-in. I thought it was just unbelievable that a guy could win $40,000 for fishing. That's when I first thought, 'Hey, I might want to do this.' That same year I went out and fished my first tournament. That '84 Classic kind of set the pace for the rest of my career.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
I haven't. I don't know if anyone ever can say they've made it. The competition gets better every year, you always have to adjust and give it all you've got.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
12-8. I was a senior in high school fishing the Arkansas River with my dad. It was March 21, 1991, a Sunday afternoon, and I was sight fishing.
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
Being outside. When you're out on the water when the sun comes up, it's like you're watching the whole world wake up.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
Mental toughness. I'm kind of hard-headed, and I think that helps me.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
Being away from home for too long. I can't stand it.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
The Arkansas River. I've got a lot of history there and learned many of the things I know today there. It's got clear water, muddy water, everything that you could encounter.
10. What question do you get asked most by fans and how do you answer it?
By far the number one thing is 'How do I become a pro?' There's no one answer that sums it all up for everybody, but for me, the answer is to take baby steps. I started fishing club tournaments, then went to one-day deals, then the Opens, and then I waited a bit until I knew I was ready for the next step, which is what would become the Elite Series. Lots of times it isn't a guy's fishing ability that keeps him from making it in the Elites; it's the financial side of it. That's where the stress comes in, and what will knock people out. You need to make sure you can handle that before anything else.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
Getting into a rut. Guys that go and fish the same lake over and over may get into a routine that works for a while, but they never try to get them other ways. Just because there was a fish by that stump one day doesn't mean he'll be there the next. You need to try new stuff and be more open-minded.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
I don't fish with a banana in the boat. I heard once that that was bad.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
It's the same with anything else; you make your own luck. While you can be fortunate, if you get here by being lucky, you won't stay long. You need to take advantage of every opportunity given to you and not rest on luck.
14. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
Aligning myself with the best sponsors there are. If I had to hand pick them, I wouldn't change one of them. I get the best equipment and get paid to use it. It's great.
15. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
I definitely want to win a Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year award. After I do that, maybe I'll say I've made it in this industry.
16. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
I don't like to get beat. The money is better than ever in the sport, but if I don't make the Top 10, I'm disappointed. This isn't hitting a ball. Every day is different and you have to adjust.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
If I had to re-do one thing — I can't really think of one isolated incident. There are plenty of little mistakes I wish I hadn't made, but nothing really sticks out.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to be at home with my family ... or deer hunting.
19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
That's kind of two fold. I wish I could travel the country and hunt deer and get paid for it — kind of like I'm doing now for fishing. Maybe after my fishing career is over my hunting career will begin. I hope my wife isn't listening!
20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
I want to be remembered as the guy who did it right. He didn't offend anybody, wasn't a bad guy and did it the old-fashioned way.