Even when he’s not specifically targeting them, Greg Hackney just can’t seem to stop catching big bass.

The reigning Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year and host of Sportsman TV was filming an upcoming episode on crappie fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn last week when he landed a solid 9-pound largemouth.

But Hackney never actually hooked the lunker bass. 

The big fish devoured the very first crappie he hooked that day, which got wedged in its throat, allowing the Gonzales angler to reel it all the way to the boat.

“That was the first one I had hooked up that was coming to the boat when the bass got it,” Hackney said. “The crappie were down on the bottom about 34 feet, but the bass were suspended about halfway back up. 

“He got the crappie as I was reeling it back in, like a grouper on an oil rig.”

Hackney and Sportsman TV producer Jared Serigné were fishing with Mr. Crappie, Wally Marshall, and local guide Roy Sanford over brush piles when the big bass smashed the 12-inch crappie about 7:30 a.m. last Thursday.

They were using 1/16- and 1/8-ounce Mr. Crappie jigheads rigged with a Strike King Mr. Crappie Shadpole.

“By the time I got him, the bass had three inches of the crappie already in his stomach. He had his head down past the crushers in his throat,” Hackney said. “The crappie wasn’t coming back out. He was going to eat it, but big fish like that eat big stuff.”

Hackney said the crappie got hung in the brush pile after he hooked it, which probably attracted the bass. Incredibly, his 6-pound mono line endured the ordeal.

“That fish was struggling, and that’s what caused that bass to bite. Then all of a sudden, he comes off the limb and I couldn’t turn him. I said, ‘Well, maybe it’s a big old catfish,’” Hackney said. “Then he got hung up again and I fought it and fought it, and he got hung again. I told Jared I’d never catch it, that it would break off.

“Then all of a sudden when he came off the last time he started coming straight up. I said, ‘It’s a bass.’ I knew he was fixing to jump. When he jumped, he had all that crappie sticking out of his mouth.”

Serigné, who filmed the entire sequence, said everyone on board first assumed the crappie had been eaten by a big flathead catfish.

“Hackney hadn’t caught a sac-a-lait yet, then he finally hooks one and ends up catching a bass,” Serigné said. “We were all freaking out. It was perfect. We had Mr. Crappie himself with the Angler of the Year. 

“It was too funny. It was like, ‘He can’t stay away from the bass.’ It was definitely one of the coolest moments of my career.”

Hackney released the big bass to fight another day, and even lost the very lucky crappie in the flurry of picture-taking following the surprise catch. 

“We took the crappie out of its mouth while I was holding the bass, and ended up letting the dang crappie get away,” he said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Man, really!’ I guess he was like a cat with nine lives.”