PITTSBURGH – Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., caught a final-round total of nine bass weighing 9 pounds, 9 ounces to win $500,000 in the $2 million 2009 Forrest Wood Cup presented by BP and Castrol — the World Championship of Bass Fishing — on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh. Hackney topped his closest rival, Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., by 3 ounces to earn the historic win before a capacity crowd at Mellon Arena.
“This is by far the highlight of my career,” said Hackney, who won the 2005 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title. “Words don’t describe it. It’s one of those things that’s going to take years to soak in. I was thinking all day and I didn’t have a clue I was going to win.”
Hackney, who qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup through the FLW Series’ BP Eastern Division, said the rivers underwent a variety of changes in both level and clarity during the course of the event. As a result, Hackney said he had to use a variety of baits to catch his limits.
“I caught a big bag of bass on a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait, but all of my other fish I caught on a drop-shot, a buzzbait, a jerkbait … I had 20 rods on the deck this week,” Hackney said.
Hackney said he started the tournament in the Pittsburgh pool of the Allegheny River. The second day he made a run up and fished his way back to Pittsburgh. Hackney said he relied heavily on a pattern fished around mayflies.
Hackney opened the tournament Thursday in 36th place with three bass weighing 3-1. Incredibly, he jumped to first place Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces to advance into the final round of 10 pros with a two-day total of four bass weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces. On Saturday, weights were cleared, and Hackney caught four bass weighing 4-3 to advance to the final day of competition in sixth place. Hackney added another five bass weighing 5-6 to his final-round total Sunday.
Hackney said he relied on a golden shiner-colored 1/4-ounce Strike King Premier Pro spinnerbait for the majority of his smallmouth fishing. Seventeen-pound-test fluorocarbon allowed Hackney to fish the light spinnerbait faster than monofilament line would have.
“By far my best day of practice was three pools up,” Hackney said. “I really didn’t want to fish for those fish until I had to. I fished the first day conservatively and didn’t catch a limit, and I really thought I would. So the second day I had to catch them big, but I didn’t think I was going to catch them that big.”
Iaconelli caught a final-round total of nine bass weighing 9-6 to claim second place and $100,000. Iaconelli qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup through the FLW Outdoors’ Stren Series.
“You have to look at the positives in everything,” said Iaconelli, who won the 2003 Bassmaster Classic title. “I’m walking out of here with $100,000 and I never fished a FLW Tour or FLW Series event.”
Iaconelli’s goal for the championship was to fish the Allegheny River the first two days and then switch to the Ohio River for the last two days of competition. The first two days Iaconelli said he “junk fished” in the second pool and caught fish on several different baits. His key baits the first two days were a Jackyl jerkbait and a Berkley Gulp! Minnow on a drop-shot rig.
“Once I got down to the Ohio, everything got thrown out the window,” Iaconelli said. “It was real dirty and had heavy current. The last two days every fish I caught came on a 5-inch green pumpkin sinking minnow. I cut off about a half inch and made a blunt end and threaded it on a 1/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten Ikey Head jig head.
Iaconelli said he targeted fish in eddies by casting upstream and bouncing the bait over rocks. Iaconelli said the bait had to be bulky for the fish to be able to find the bait.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this confident in my fishing in my whole life, “ Iaconelli said. “Even when I was fishing club tournaments. It’s just a matter of time before I close one of these up.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Cody Meyer of Redding, Calif. (eight bass, 7-15, $75,000); Team Folgers pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark. (six bass, 7-10, $60,000); Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif. (six bass, 7-4, $50,000); David Curtis of Trinity, Texas (six bass, 7-2, $45,000); Team BP pro David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn. (six bass, 5-11, $40,000); Team Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. (two bass, 5-3, $35,000); Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. (five bass, 4-9, $30,000) and Team Chevy pro Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark. (three bass, 1-7, $25,000).
Overall there were 29 bass weighing 29 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included three five-bass limits.
Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., won the Co-angler Division and $50,000 Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces followed by Michi Oba of Tokyo, Japan, in second place with two bass weighing 1-13 worth $10,000.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Greg Schultz of Wayzata, Minn. (two bass, 1-11, $9,000); Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind. (one bass, 1-6, $8,000); Blaine Bucy of Wellsburg, W.V. (one bass, 0-12, $7,000); Lynn Baciuska Jr. of Afton, N.Y. (zero bass, 0-0, $6,000); Tommie Goldston of Gardnerville, Nev. (zero bass, 0-0, $5,000); Teddy Bradley of Mishawaka, Ind. (zero bass, 0-0, $4,000); David Lauer of South Bend, Ind. (zero bass, 0-0, $3,500); and Kevin Hawk of Ramona, Calif. (zero bass, 0-0, $3,000).
Coverage of the Forrest Wood Cup, hosted by VisitPittsburgh and sponsored locally by Range Resources and Verizon Wireless, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS, the network which brings anglers the best fishing programming on television featuring the most-trusted authorities on the water. The Emmy-nominated “FLW Outdoors,” will air Aug. 30 and Nov. 8 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide, including internationally through agreements with WFN (World Fishing Network) and Matchroom Sport to such countries as Canada, Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. FLW Outdoors also is taking fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing, offering the largest awards possible in the history of fantasy sports, $10 million in cash and prizes. Sign up for Player’s Advantage to get your edge and win.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.