Greg Hackney and Jason Christie are Elite again, but maybe with a few new gray hairs.
With no backup plan, the pressure was on when both attempted to requalify for the Bassmaster Elite Series via the 2020 Basspro.com Open Series. The 47-year-olds born two months apart might have made it look easy by finishing first and second in the Central division point standings. Both said it was anything but.
“There was a lot of pressure. It was a very stressful fall for me,” said Hackney, of Gonzales, La.
Both competed in MLF the past two years but didn’t re-sign for 2021, creating great impetus to qualify for Bassmaster’s top circuit. Failure would have meant some egg on the face and trying the Opens again.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine that,” Hackney said.
With large fields, dozens of pros fishing for the same Elite dream and many others vying to win on their home waters, the 2020 Opens were possibly the most hotly contested ever.
“It’s wasn’t easy,” said Christie, of Park Hill, Okla. “I’ve been fortunate enough to try it twice, and I made it both times, and I hope — I love fishing the Opens — but I hope I never have to fish the Opens again to try to qualify.”