And so do Coulee Region mosquitoes — especially after dark.
While in search of one, the native of Donalds, S.C., discovered the other, and not by choice. Ashley, a 36-year-old who is in La Crosse to compete in the four-day Plano Bassmaster Elite Series event on the Mississippi River, which starts this morning, found himself beached in the headwaters area of Lake Onalaska as Labor Day wound down.
About 7:30 p.m. Monday, Ashley was preparing to return to his launch area after a day of pre-fishing. Pre-fishing, for non-angling folks, is a practice day where the competitors pick out different spots, try different lures, and form a game plan of sorts before the big-buck tournament begins.
How big? A $638,000 purse will be distributed to the top 50 anglers in the La Crosse event, which is the 10th of 11 regular-season tournaments in the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series. The winner of the La Crosse event pockets a cool $100,000.
Tournament headquarters is at Veteran’s Freedom Park near the Clinton Street boat landing, with daily weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m.
Ashley was feeling pretty good about the spots he had fished, the weight of fish he had caught and released, and his strategy for Tuesday, which was another day of pre-fishing.
Then everything changed. Read More
> Day 4: 3, 4-09 (18, 56-08) Photo by: B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito - It was a disappointing final day for Ashley. On the bright side, he picked up a lot of AOY points and is up to 34th in the standings, which is inside the cutoff for next year's Classic.
"It was just one of those days," he said. "It sure would've been nice to win it, but I'm not going to worry about it. That's just fishing.
"With it being overcast all day, the fish didn't get in the bushes all that great. I tried throwing a bunch of stuff – a topwater, a spinnerbait, a buzzbait, a Pop-R – but I couldn't get anything going. I thought I'd still be able to catch some one way or another, but I just didn't figure it out."
His primary baits for the week were a Zoom Z-Craw and a Strike King Slither Rig, but attached to a half-ounce weight.
"I had some more bites today and some short strikes, but even if I landed every fish that bit it wouldn't have mattered." Read more
Photo BASS/Overstreet Story by Steve Wright
DURANT, Okla. — And to think Casey Ashley turned down a chance to be a country music star for this – four days of heated competition on Lake Texoma in a bass boat.
But it's Sundays like this one that make Ashley even firmer in his belief that he made the right decision in shaking off that Nashville country music scene a few years ago.
"I love to sing, and I love music," Ashley said Saturday, prior to festivities at the GEICO Bassmaster Bassfest presented by Choctaw Casino and Resort. "But if I had somebody telling me where to be and what time to be there all the time, day after day, I just wouldn't enjoy it anymore."
"I don't like people telling me what to do," he added, with that million-dollar smile. "That's why I fish for a living, and I'm out there on a boat by myself."
It's when you see that smile and think about how beautifully Ashley can sing – he knocked it out of the ballpark singing the National Anthem before winning the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell – that you're reminded this wasn't some country music fantasy Ashley had five years ago. He had a legitimate shot.
"He's good-looking, got a great personality and he can sing. He's got all the tools," said Nashville songwriter Rodney Clawson. "It's just a matter of time. You don't just show up and do this. You've got to put in the time. And I don't think Casey wanted to put up with all the B.S., and the asses you've got to kiss."