Greg Hackney is a man on a mission, and the target is more than a return to the Bassmaster Classic field.
With the last regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series tournament ahead next week — a four-day excursion on Cayuga Lake near Ithaca, N.Y. — and the first Toyota Angler of the Year Championship in mid-September in Michigan waters, the Gonzales touring pro angler is atop the leaderboard in Angler of the Year standings.
With a 48th-place finish in last weekend’s tournament on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Hackney shot ahead of yearlong AOY leader and former Classic champ Mark Davis of Arkansas, and holds a one-point lead over 2013 Angler of the Year Aaron Martens through seven of the eight regular-season Elite events. Hackney has earned 564 points, and earned $1,000 for taking the points lead. Anglers are awarded points in descending order of finish in each event, with 100 points going to each tournament’s winner.
Hackney’s standing virtually assures him of a spot in the 2015 Classic set for February on Lake Hartwell near Greensboro, South Carolina. He didn’t make the field for the most recent Classic held on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
Cliff Crochet, of Pierre Part, also solidified his spot in this year’s AOY standings with a 25th-place finish in the 109-angler field. Crochet’s 16th in the overall standings with 495 points. Neither Hackney nor Crochet qualified for Sunday;s final round on the Delaware River, but earned $10,000 each for their top-50 finish. Crochet was a 2014 Classic qualifier.
If both make the 2015 Classic field, Louisiana will have three Classic competitors for the first time in more than three decades. Brett Preuett, a member of the University of Louisiana at Monroe team, outdueled seven other anglers to win the Classic berth set aside for an angler in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic earlier this month.
Barring an accident or historic collapse, Hackney and Crochet will be among the top 50 Elite Series anglers to move to the Sept. 18-21 AOY Championship on Little Bay de Noc out of Escanaba, a city on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. This three-day tournament will determine the winner of the $100,000 prize that goes to this years angler of the year. The 50 anglers will carry points earned through regular-season event, but this final stop, with a $900,000 purse, will crown 2014’s AOY.
Mike Iaconelli, down in the points after six events, qualified for the 2015 Classic with a win on the Delaware River. Iaconelli, who’s first major win came in the 2003 Classic in New Orleans, was born in Philadelphia, and now lives across the Delaware River in Pittsgrove, New Jersey He won by eight pounds to claim the $105,000 first-place prize money. He was the only angler in the field to catch a five-bass limit all four tournament days. It was his eighth Bassmaster win.
Chris Lane, the 2012 Classic winner on the Red River out of Shreveport, finished second.
Antique Decoy Show
With 90-degree days the norm, it’s difficult for even the most passionate waterfowl hunter to think about hauling decoys, brushing blinds and cool, crisp, north-winds-a-blowing mornings in rice fields, brakes and marshes.
Remember, the special 16-day teal season opens in less than a month, and if you need a boost to get in waterfowl mold, then Saturday’s 3rd annual Baton Rouge Antique Decoy Show just might be the ticket.
Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for youngsters ages 2-17 for the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. show at BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center off Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge.
Organizer Gary Lipham said the center’s staff has organized activities like duck identification games, face painting and soap carving for youngsters.
Lipham said this year’s show already has drawn more exhibitors than last year’s show, and said the center’s new educational building should be able to handle a crowd expected to surpass last year’s near 1,000 attendees. There will be food vendors, too.
The focus will be the contributions of Bayou Lafourche carvers, notably Carl Danos, Barry Chauvin and Brian Cheramie. Cheramie will be the guest speaker at Friday’s 6:30 p.m. dinner set for Ralph & Kacoos in Baton Rouge.
After reopening the recreational season for greater amberjack Aug. 1, federal fisheries managers announced Tuesday that the recreational and commercial take of greater AJs from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico will close at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25, and will remain closed until Jan. 1, 2015. The recreational season was closed during June and July.
According to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration managers, 2014 landings data “indicate the 409,000-pound commercial annual catch target and the 888,839-pound recreational annual catch target will be harvested by Aug. 24.” NOAA declared the species as “overfished.”
The announcement also declared that, “The closure applies in both state and federal waters for vessels that have a valid Gulf of Mexico commercial reef fish vessel permit or a reef fish charter/headboat permit.”