'Hack Attack' regroups for the Classic

Toyota pro Greg Hackney's off-season is about the furthest thing one might imagine one of the biggest names in professional bass fishing to be. While on tour fishing the nation's most prestigious tournament trails, the Elite Series angler has a well-earned nickname — The Hack Attack. However, during the winter months, Hackney sheds his bass fishing moniker in exchange for a more laidback mentality.

During his off time during the winter, Greg tries to keep competitive bass fishing as far out of mind as he can; in fact, it's his way of preparing for the upcoming season. "It really takes me about a month to get out of the stress of it and clear my mind," he explained. "I haven't fished for bass once since the Busch Shootout, so I've been away from it long enough to make me hungry and ready to go again.

"I'm going to spend the rest of December deer hunting, and by the middle of January I'll be getting my tackle fine-tuned and get my mind set to fishing."

By keeping bass fishing out of his immediate thoughts, Greg feels that it actually makes him hungrier and more competitive. "I hear people say that they stayed away from it last year too much, but honestly I like to get away from it," he said. "Don't get me wrong — I love to fish! But if I'm around it all the time, and focused on it constantly, it starts to affect my drive and desire.

"That's the beauty of being home for a while because I can just hang around the house and be a dad and not worry about fishing at all."

While competition isn't at the front of his mind, he's well aware that looming just around the corner is the granddaddy of all tournaments — the Bassmaster Classic. Just the same, the Louisiana pro said that he hasn't really put a great deal of thought into the tournament just yet. "I haven't been up (to Lay Lake) yet," he said. "I'm just going to wait until official practice starts.

"Pre-practicing really helps some people, but for me it does the opposite. The weather is going to determine so much about this tournament, so it really doesn't do any good to try and put something together until you're there."

Though there hasn't been a concerted effort to study maps or predict patterns as yet, Hackney explained that Lay Lake is one of his favorite lakes, which is enough to get him fired up. "I'm looking forward to this Classic as much as any that I've ever been to, as far as the lake is concerned," he revealed. "It's just an awesome fishery and there is a tremendous fan base there in Birmingham."

2007 will mark the second year that bass fishing's Super Bowl will signal the season's start. Greg explained that initially, he was skeptical if that was the right decision. "I didn't know if I was going to like it or not because I didn't know what it would do to the fan turnout," he said. "After Orlando and the response that we had there, the way that I look at now is that it's a perfect start to the season.

"I can't think of a better way to get the season started than to have already put $500,000 in the bank."

Greg rationalized that for some, winning the Classic at the season's start could stall a season due to the tremendous amount of pressure from sponsors the angler would surely receive. For him, he explained, the win would have the opposite affect. "Look at it this way, if I win the Classic I know that for the next four or five tournaments I'm going to be really strong," he said.

"I had close to $300,000 in winnings last year and never won a Major. Winning the Classic in February means that you're half way to a million dollars … that's motivation right there."