Gonzales’ Greg Hackney qualifies for 2012 Bassmaster Classic

Staff reports
Greg Hackney of Gonzales holds his catch at the Bassmaster Elite Series Dixie Duel at Wheeler Lake in Alabama on June 17. He has qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic

Bass fishing professional Greg Hackney of Gonzales has earned a place among the best in his sport.

Hackney qualified for 2012 Bassmaster Classic via points accumulated in race for 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

The 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament trail, featuring 99 of the most talented anglers in bass fishing, concluded June 19 with a dramatic finale at Wheeler Lake near Decatur, Ala. Following the event, top anglers representing 19 states received the following honors:

• one received honors as Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year

• one received honors as Rookie of the Year

• eight earned a berth in Toyota Trucks All-Star Week, July 23-31, in Alabama

• 38 earned a berth in the prestigious Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, in Louisiana

Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year

By amassing the most points through eight regular season tournaments in 2011, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., was named 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. It's his seventh best-angler title and fourth consecutive. Not even the legendary Roland Martin, holder of nine Angler of the Year titles through 1985, had won more than three in a row. VanDam also is the first pro to land Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic titles in the same season for two seasons running.

Bassmaster Rookie of the Year

Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., is the 2011 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year. DeFoe earned the title by leading all rookies in Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year point totals through all eight regular season tournaments in 2011. He finished fourth overall.

Toyota Trucks All-Star Week

Toyota Trucks All-Star Week is slated for July 23-31 in Alabama. The eight initial qualifiers include the Top 8 from Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings: VanDam, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., DeFoe, Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., and Davy Hite of Ninety Six, S.C.

Toyota Trucks All-Star Week is like a fusion of NCAA March Madness and Major League Baseball's All Star Game, but with an added twist. There's a championship at stake for the fans as well as the pros!

Actual competition involves 12 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers. The field includes the eight named above – plus four to be selected by fans. Between June 21 and July 10, each voter at Bassmaster.com can nominate a sentimental favorite or hometown hero. Winners will be announced by July 13. All 12 will compete July 23-24 in the Ramada All-Star Semi-Final at Lake Jordan, Wetumpka, Ala. The bottom 4 will be eliminated. The 8 advancing finalists will be seeded in a bracket-style head-to-head tournament. The Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship is July 29-31 on the Alabama River, Montgomery, Ala. Winner takes all: $100,000.

When the champion is crowned, one lucky Bassmaster fan will win a fully rigged Triton 18XS boat with a Mercury 150 OptiMax engine. From all the fans who voted online, 12 will be randomly selected and paired to virtually compete with the 12 Elite Series pros. Results will be posted daily on Bassmaster.com. The fan paired with the angler who eventually wins Toyota Trucks All-Star Week will win the boat--and a "virtual championship" title unlike anything else in pro fishing.

All 12 fan-finalists will win a prize pack from Berkley and Havoc (retail value, $79.00).

Bassmaster Classic

Most of the anglers who'll qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, slated for Feb. 24-26, 2012, on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., are Elite Series competitors. The state-by-state listing below includes the qualifiers, how they earned their spot in the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, and other newly awarded honors.