Maybe horrific floods near his Louisiana home helped put things into perspective, or simply enough time has passed since Cayuga, but either way Greg Hackney finally opened up Sunday on Bassmaster LIVE.
It was seven weeks ago at the Busch Beer Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake that Hackney’s Day 1 catch was disqualified after it was determined he fished an off-limits area. He finished last in the event and his hopes for a second Toyota Angler of the Year title nose-dived.
“It was good we had a big break,” Hackney said. “I’m glad we didn’t have a back-to-back. I needed a rock to crawl under somewhere.”
LIVE hosts Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders interviewed Hackney as he drove home from the Bassmaster Elite at Potomac River presented by Econo Lodge, where he finished 13th. After learning of some of the devastation the floods have caused, Zona asked his friend where he is mentally now from a month and half ago.
“I’m probably back to 75 percent,” Hackney said. “It’s one of those deals where it’s been hard for me to stomach. I think about it every day. I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t affected me.
“It’s like everything else. You get up the next day and you get over it.”
Hackney weighed in 17 pounds, 8 ounces on the first day at Cayuga and later learned he’d been disqualified. New York bans fishing in all manmade basins, and Hackney had entered the Cornell Sailing Center. Some called the law antiquated and others railed on the harshness of the penalty.
“The deal was if I had known I was in the off-limits, I could have called in and restarted the day,” he said. “I culled that fish out. I could have went back if I had realized.
“You live and you learn. I don’t ever plan on that happening again. I hope I have another good chance. I started off really good this year in every event.”
The ramifications of the DQ shell-shocked Hackney, who was coming off victory on Lake Texoma. Hackney launched early on Day 2 to avoid most everybody, and he appeared distraught on stage. He told emcee Dave Mercer he did not yet feel like talking as he weighed 15 pounds, 4 ounces to salvage four points.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever done is fish the second day at Cayuga. It was horrible,” he said. “It took me until about 12 o’clock until I really fished. I didn’t even know why I was out there.”
Hackney’s 30-point lead in the AOY race became a 67-point deficit. He left Cayuga “wanting to shoot myself in the neck.” He did appreciate the reaction of his fellow Elites, who told him it felt like it happened to them. Think about that. His fellow competitors were empathetic to someone who regularly takes their money.
“It really shocked me to see how many guys came up to me at Cayuga and were truly sincere they hated what happened,” Hackney said. “I have the utmost respect for the anglers. All of our bunch are really, truly good guys.”
That includes Gerald Swindle, the main benefactor of Hackney’s miscue. Swindle, who was sick for Hackney, finished 10th on the Potomac to add three points onto his cushion over Hackney. Keith Combs and Randall Tharp also stand ahead of Hackney, making the hill that much steeper.
Hackney called into LIVE when eventual winner Justin Lucas led by about 10 pounds, and he assessed his shot of overcoming the obstacles and winning AOY – “My chances are the same as anybody coming back and beating Justin Lucas today,” he said.