“You always dream of fishing the Bassmaster Classic on your home lake, but to be able to win it on your home lake? This is a dream come true.” - Casey

LIVE Rewind: Casey Ashley finds a good Wheeler bass


2nd: Ashley Caught on Late to Wheeler Lake

> Day 1: 5, 18-12 Ashley said his practice was dismal until late on the final day.

"I figured out how to get bit yesterday afternoon – at least well enough to catch some keepers," he said. "I wasn't whacking on them or anything and I really didn't think they were that size, but you never really know."

He sorted through 20 keepers and caught his big one at mid-day. He took two largemouths and three smallmouths to the scale.

"I lost one early that felt like a good one, but I'm pretty sure I caught it later. It was a 4-pound smallmouth.

"I just hop-scotched around – there's a lot of other guys fishing the same stuff. Where I was it's fishing pretty small, like a bathtub. I saw John Crews a lot."

He figures he has a 50/50 chance of catching another strong bag on day 2.

"A lot of those fish got hammered today, so it's one of those deals where I just can't say." Read more


Ashley: Homemade lures rule

The shad are spawning at Lake Wheeler, so a lot of Bassmaster Elite Series pros have a baitfish-imitating willow-leaf spinnerbait tied on – most of them provided by sponsors.

But no surprise, just like the underspin horsehead lure he used to win the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, the spinnerbait Casey Ashley has tied on is one he and his dad Danny make themselves.

“The art of spinnerbait fishing has gone away,” said Ashley who slapped 19 pounds on the scales to sit in second place after day 1 at Wheeler, including the biggest bass of the day – a 6-14 beast.

“Very few tournaments allow us to think we can tie on a spinnerbait, ride it for 4 days and win with it, but if I need one, I can build it using components from a couple plastic jars I carry in my boat. And when I build it, I’m confident the blades are always gonna spin, no matter how slow or fast I retrieve it.

“The spinnerbaits Daddy and I build came from my buddy Trad Whaley. His dad’s name is Danny too, and he fished B.A.S.S. events back in the Hank Parker era. If there was a fish to be caught on a spinnerbait, Trad’s daddy was gonna catch it – and usually big ones – using this bait right here that they built, and called the 'the Big Train.'

“Dad and I pour our own heads from that original Big Train mold, and Trad was kind enough to have some plated for us. But a lot of times, I’ll just fish it with no paint at all on the head – just plain lead."

> Favorite size: “Most of the time, I’ll start with a 1/2-unce, but if I realize I need to keep it shallower, then I’ll move to 3/8. On a rare occasion, if I need to get deep, I’ll go with a 3/4, but day in and day out, I use a 1/2-ounce.”

> Blades and beads: “I put a lot of beads between my blades for a reason. That keeps those blades separated, spaced apart – and always spinning – that’s really key. I like a No. 4 size in gold up front, and a 4 1/2ilver as the main blade in the back – and almost always throw the smooth finish, even though I carry a few hammered ones in this jar.”

> Speed of retrieve: “A lot of people wind a spinnerbait way too fast in the springtime. It’s a tool you can get more bites with if you’ll take your time and make contact with cover. A lot of that comes from choosing the right reel. I use a 6.6:1 Quantum Smoke.”

Ashley concluded: “Spinnerbaits may not get a lot of use anymore, but they still catch fish – good fish. And there just aren’t many lures you can tie on that flash, replicate shad and offer the versatility they do."

He just simply prefers to make his own. Read more


Ashley Prepping for Unique Elite Series Event


Photo Alan McGuckin - Casey Ashley walked out of a cozy cabin near the shores of Bull Shoals Reservoir and prepared for the last long, rainy day of practice at one of the most unique events of his illustrious young career.

Instead of competing on a single body of water, this week’s tournament kicks off at Lake Norfork on Thursday then goes to Bull Shoals on Friday and Saturday, with the final day back at Norfork on Sunday.

No surprise, Ashley was singing the first words to “Lucky Old Sun” which begins, “Up in the morning. Out on the job. Work like the devil for my pay.” His voice so soft in the Ozark predawn that only an avid Kenny Chesney fan could have recognized his song choice to begin the day. Read Full Story


Bassmaster Elites headed to Georgetown this week

Casey Ashley

Photo by Sergio Saito - You would think that the five rivers that empty into Winyah Bay would be enough fishing waters for the 110 competitors who will begin competing Thursday in the Huk Performance Bassmaster Elite tournament headquartered at Georgetown’s Carroll Campbell Marine Complex.

But the Cooper River, famed for its big springtime largemouth catches and reachable via the Intracoastal Waterway through Charleston Harbor, is as much a topic of conversation among the country’s top bass anglers as the more readily accessible Waccamaw, Pee Dee, Sampit, Santee and Black rivers.

“To be honest, I don’t really consider this a homestate tournament,” said Casey Ashley of Donalds, the 2015 Bassmaster Classic champion. “This time last year was the first time I’d ever heard a bass even lived in Georgetown. I don’t think (any of the pros) have ever fished there before. It’s going to be a fun tournament. The playing field is going to be even, that’s for sure.” Full Story


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