The 2009 Bassmaster Classic starts tomorrow.
Someone will be a legend by Sunday afternoon and someone else might be a goat, depending on how things go.
A million decisions will be made on the water at the most prestigious tournament in the world. Some will be good, some will be bad and some will have no real impact at all, but every one of them will be reviewed again and again until the decision maker is absolutely sure he or she can do no better.
And with the Classic just a day away we're down to the final number in our countdown — one.
Three Dog Night said that it was the loneliest number. U2 had a big hit with it. As a uniform numeral, it was a big success for Billy Martin, Ozzie Smith, Warren Moon and Oscar Robertson, who was known as the "Big O" even though he wore 1.
For this year's Bassmaster Classic, one belongs to the one angler residing in the Bayou State who will be fishing this year's championship and who just happens to be the pre-tournament favorite.
Although Greg Hackney calls Gonzales, La., home now, he's actually from Arkansas and grew up fishing the rivers and streams in the Natural State. That's not to say he isn't familiar with the Red River — he is. It's just to point out that he's very experienced and very talented on moving water.
Hackney is due for a big win like the Classic. Living in Louisiana is not the only reason many pick him to take home the hardware this year. He's good ... really good. In his rookie season as a BASS pro back in 2004, Hackney took Rookie of the Year honors and narrowly missed the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, losing it on the final day to Gerald Swindle.
Hackney broke into the Bassmaster Millionaire Club in 2008 with fewer than 80 tournaments on his résumé. Only a handful of pros have made the list in less than 100 events. His record of Top 20 finishes in BASS events is impressive. In 78 tournaments, he's finished in the Top 20 37 times, including three wins and 28 Top 10s.
He's won events using a variety of methods and lures, and he's a very versatile angler, but his go-to technique is pitching and flipping to shallow cover. When bites are few and far between, he's almost always one of the guys who will catch enough to be competitive.
Going into this Classic — his seventh in a row — Hackney's hoping for some help from the weather. He doesn't want warm winds and bright skies. He'd love to see dirty water and temperatures that are below freezing for much of the day. If the fishing's easy, he could get lost in the mix as angler after angler brings a heavy bag to the scales.
But if it's tough ... really tough ... if limits are hard to come by and you never know where the next bite will come from, Hackney is going to be the man to beat. He'll flip, pitch, scratch and claw a limit from the river while others haul water.
And things are shaping up for his kind of tournament. A week out it looked like the Classic would be a slugfest with warming waters, clear skies and easy limits. Now, much closer to the event, there's been some rain upstream and a front is dropping air and water temperatures to levels that are decidedly Hackney-like.It could be his week. We'll know soon.In Bassmaster Classic history, only one angler has beaten the home state jinx. It happened in 2007 when Boyd Duckett took the championship on Lay Lake in his native Alabama.Greg Hackney would like to turn that one into a two.