By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Greg Hackney's home state of Louisiana was one of the early hotspots in the spread of the coronavirus and the veteran Major League Fishing angler says he and his family have been diligent about taking precautions against it from the get-go. For example, he hasn't been inside a convenience store since March and he's worn a glove every time he's pumped gas into his truck or boat.
"With something like this, you really find out what you need and what you don't need," he said. "You can live with a lot less than you thought you could. Some people have certainly been affected much more negatively than others, but it teaches you to enjoy the simple things in life."
Such as fishing with family. For approximately 2 months, Hackney and his 16-year-old son Luke were on the water just about every other day somewhere within a 45-minute drive of their home in Gonzales. On the off days, Luke focused on his online schoolwork while his dad usually did yard work.
"I've spent more time fishing around the house this spring than I have (since he turned pro) and I've learned a lot about these places," the elder Hackney said. "We've spent a lot of time on the Mississippi River, the Atchafalaya River and the marsh around here.
"Usually I fish in January before the season starts just so I can get acclimated to fishing again, then for whatever filming I do for Louisiana Sportsman in the fall. When I come home, I really don't feel like fishing because I've been gone so much. I kind of hate to say it, but I've really enjoyed this time."
Hasn't Been Alone
The Hackneys have had plenty of company on their forays to local fishing spots. As in a lot of states, sales of fishing licenses in Louisiana have spiked this spring and anglers of all levels have been getting out early and often.
"Thursday has become the new Saturday," he said. "When the quarantine first got going, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday weren't that bad, but now it's seven days a week. We'd get to the ramp before daylight and we'd be 25 boats back (in the line waiting to launch).
"A lot of kids haven't been able to do what they usually do, like my son plays lacrosse and that got shut down right away. It could turn out to be a good thing for the industry because a lot of those kids hadn't been exposed to fishing before, but now they have been."
Luke recently joined a local bass club, and they've hit all the places that it'll hold events so he could gain some familiarity with them. The old man has picked up a few things, as well.
"We've caught some 4- and 5-pounders out of places where they weren't supposed to exist," he said.
Still an Outside Chance
After finishes of 29th at Lake Eufaula, 17th at Lake Okeechobee and 14th at Lake Fork, Hackney sits in 11th place in the Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race as the tour gets set to resume this weekend with Heavy Hitters at Florida's Kissimmee Chain. He's still mathematically alive for the points title – capturing it would make him the first competitor to win it on three top-level circuits (he claimed the crown on the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2014 and the FLW Tour in 2005) – but making up more than 40 points and leap-frogging 10 guys with just two points events remaining on the revamped schedule is a tall order.
"I guess it's a possibility, but it'd be pretty tough to do, especially considering that we're going to Champlain, where everybody's going to catch fish," he said. "I love Champlain, but even in five-fish limit tournaments, 1 pound might be the difference between 30 places.
"It's hard to separate yourself from the pack, and probably even more so in this (MLF) format. You can be on something that's getting a little bit bigger bites, but somebody will still beat you by catching a bunch of 2 1/2-pounders."
> Hackney said he knows of only one person in his area who was afflicted with the coronavirus – a "friend of a friend" who got over it without becoming seriously ill.
> His wife Julie is a veterinarian who had plenty of time to help with the children's studies (they have three others in addition to Luke) when her clinic's hours were reduced. "We've been one big, happy family at home for two months," he said.