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
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
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
I’ve been fishing tournaments since I was 10 years old. My daddy and I spent a lot of days on the water, and although some turned out better than others, I learned one thing early on – nothing good comes out of living in the past.
That’s how I’m dealing with my 77th-place finish on the St. Johns River. Finishing in the 70s stinks, but it could’ve been worse. I could’ve finished in the 90s or lower.
Yeah I didn’t get a check, but it’s not like it was catastrophic for the season. So you just move on. I’ll try to do everything I can do to make up those lost points in the remaining events.
Looking back, I think a couple of things hurt me on the St. Johns. First off, I never got a big bite.
That’s the thing with Florida – you have to catch a big one each day. I was looking for bed fish, but I didn’t find any big ones that were locked on good enough to catch.
It seemed like the majority of anglers fished the west side of Lake George, but I always try to get away from the crowds for a couple of reasons. First, fishing pressure can really wear on an area. Also, if your day starts slowly and you’re watching guys in other boats slinging 5- and 6-pounders, it can really jack with your head. Full Story
Photo by: Seigo Saito
> Day 2: 4, 11-02 (9, 26-07) Reigning Classic champion Casey Ashley thought he could do some early damage with a jerkbait, but that plan was a bust.
"I gave it 45 minutes or an hour, but I didn't get any bites," he said.
The four fish he weighed were all caught within a 1-hour span. The two biggest (both in the 3 1/2-pound class) were enticed by a jig and the other two bit a crankbait.
He also caught three short bass, two drum and a buffalo.
"The areas I got bit in have good fish. I'll have to start there, but I won't linger very long. I might have to start over again."
He knows his chances of retaining his title for another year are slim.
"If it was anybody but Jason Christie, they'd be a whole lot better, but he doesn't stumble. Especially not on Grand." Read more
Photo by: Gary Tramontina
> Day 1: 5, 15-05 Reigning Classic champ Casey Ashley senses the warming water is going to trigger more fish to start moving shallow over the weekend and he thinks he’ll be able to capitalize, thanks to an adjustment he made today.
“Things changed more today than they had in practice with the water temperature warming up,” he said. “Tomorrow, if everything goes like it did today, I’ll have more time to try to find the same stuff. The fish are changing for sure.”
He said the lack of a breeze allowed him to fish more effectively, but it was a late-day change to a crankbait that proved critical.
“I figured something out today that I really hadn’t done so I’ll have to go hunt for some of that,” he said. "I think they’re moving up everywhere. I’d come in around the ramp with about 5 minutes to fish and culled one Read more
Six members of the Triton Boats Pro Staff will be among the pack of elite competitive anglers vying to be the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic Champion. The annual bass tournament, the most prestigious event in the sport, will be held March 4-6 at Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Oklahoma.
Triton Pro Staff members who qualified for this year's Classic include defending 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Casey Ashley. The Triton Team is proud to boast back-to-back Classic Champions and 2014 winner Randy Howell also qualified through the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Angler of the Year point standings along with Brandon Card and Boyd Duckett. In addition, Triton pro Albert Collins punched his Classic ticket through the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournament and Thomas Martens earned his from winning the Team Championship Classic Bracket.
"We couldn't be prouder of our Pro Staff Classic qualifiers," said Triton founder Earl Bentz. "The competition on the B.A.S.S. Elite Series and B.A.S.S. Nation tournament trails has gotten so fierce; it's a mind-boggling accomplishment for our Pro-Staff members to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. To have 6 pros representing Triton at the Classic demonstrates just how competitive and dedicated these fishermen are."
All six (6) of the Triton Pro Staff Classic qualifiers will compete for the event's $300,000 first prize from a Triton 21 TrX bass boat, a tournament model that has earned countless rave reviews for its state-of-the-art fishing features and extreme performance. "The Triton 21 TrX is truly awesome!" said 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champion Casey Ashley. "Besides its incredible speed and handling capabilities, the front deck is so huge; you could practically land a helicopter on it. It is absolutely the most competitive and versatile tournament bass boat on the water."
Triton builds a complete line of fiberglass and aluminum fishing boats for pro anglers and weekend fishermen alike. For more information, log onto the company's website www.tritonboats.com
By Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller - Life-changing is how Casey Ashley describes life after his 2015 win at the Bassmaster Classic.
Ashley, who won last year's tournament on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell, enters this year's Classic as the reigning champion.
According to B.A.S.S. officials, Ashley is one of only three pros who have won the tournament in their own state within the 45-year history of the Classic. The others being Randy Howell, who won in 2014, and Boyd Duckett, who won in 2007.
Ashley won last year's tournament with a final-round catch of 20 pounds, 3 ounces, which brought his three-day total to 50 pounds, 1 ounce. Full Story
MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
By KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer Casey Ashley was a spectator the last time the Bassmaster Classic hit Tulsa and Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. This time he not only returns as a competitor but as the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion.
He is relishing the opportunity.
“You don’t ever want to miss a Classic anyway, but the way this lake sets up it plays to my strengths and I wanted to be here,” he said. “It really hurt the last time when I didn’t qualify.”
Ashley, 32, of Donalds, South Carolina saw the realization of a childhood dream when he came from fifth place on the final day of the February 2015 Classic to win the world championship on his home lake.
“I’ve been fishing as long as I can remember and this is always what I wanted to do for a living and winning the Classic on my home lake was something else,” he said. “This will be my ninth year on the tour and it’s just been a dream so far. The only thing I can ask for now is to win another Classic.”
And what about this one?
Anything is possible, he said. He likes fishing in cold weather — a factor at Greenville last year as it was even colder there than it was at Grand in 2013.
While he is a southern angler, he enjoys fishing in cold, inclement weather and feels that deeper water bodies with structure like Grand’s play well into his wheelhouse whether it sets up as a crankbait tournament or a jig fishing tournament.
The first weekend of March the weather and water color will tell the story, he said. “It’s pretty much a crapshoot with the weather that time of year,” he said. “It could be snowing or it could be 75 degrees that week. You just have to be able to adjust.” Read More
Photo BassFan: Since the end of the Bassmaster Elite Series regular season last August, Casey Ashley figures he’s spent fewer than 10 days on any body of water with a rod and reel in his hands.
Just this past Monday, he wet a line on Lake Hartwell for the first time since capturing the Bassmaster Classic title there 347 days ago. He’d done some video work on the lake a couple weeks ago, but he hadn’t intentionally made a cast until this week.
“It’s been warm here and the water’s still warm,” he said. “They’re biting. The dumb ones are up shallow and biting. I was just excited to get to go fishing.”
To say it’s been a busy offseason for the reigning Classic champ would be an understatement. It’s been an adjustment for the South Carolina native, who refers to himself as a “homebody.”
“It has been a roller coaster ride for sure,” Ashley said, “and it’s still going. You really find out how valuable your time is now – what time you do have for yourself.”
He said the most hectic portion of the offseason is mostly behind him, but he still has a boat show to be at this weekend and a trip to Florida planned for next week before he can start to sharpen his focus on the Elite Series season ahead.
“I’d like to fish, but you have to do what you have to do,” he said. “I’ll get going soon on things once I get squared away with all of this travel.” BassFan Article