GREENVILLE, S.C. — The final day of the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on Lake Hartwell is shaping up to be a free-for-all with a handful of former Classic champions sitting atop the standings with the coveted trophy and $300,000 first-place prize well within their grasp.
Takahiro Omori, an Elite Series pro from Japan who now makes his home in Emory, Texas, caught five fish that weighed 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday and claimed the lead going into Sunday’s final round with a two-day total of 31-11.
The 2004 Classic winner holds a razor-thin lead over Elite Series pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (31-9); 2003 Classic winner Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. (31-0); 2014 Classic winner Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. (30-11); and Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. (29-14).
Based on his backyard knowledge of Lake Hartwell, and a big FLW win here a year ago nearly to the exact calendar date, if Las Vegas made odds for the Bassmaster Classic, there’s a real good chance Casey Ashley would have been their favorite.
But according to Ashley just before Day 2 blast-off, don’t let history be the basis of any heavy bets. Ashley says his favorite honey holes, the locations on this massive lake that yielded most of his key bites for the big win a year ago, are pretty much a useless non-factor this week at the 2015 Bassmaster Classic Read More
It's fishing, Casey Ashley says, so anything can happen.
And when Ashley's fishing, something usually does.
Most of the time, it's good.
It certainly proved rewarding more oft than not in 2014 as the Abbeville County angler embarked on a bass-fishing odyssey that included competing on both of pro fishing's major circuits, the Bassmaster and the FLW — a challenging double-double that required extensive travel, plenty of guile and a knack for consistency at a variety of locales. Read Story
ANDERSON --- Upstate angler Casey Ashley is one of the favorites to win this year's Bassmaster Classic because of his familiarity with Hartwell Lake.
Ashley, 31, who lives in Donalds, said his knowledge of the lake could act as a double-edged sword when the high-stakes tournament gets underway Friday.
"It can go two different ways," he said. "It can help you a lot or hurt you big time."
Ashley said he will benefit if the fish are biting in his favorite areas on the lake.
But, he said, there is also the risk of "beating of a dead horse" by lingering too long in places that are unproductive.
Local anglers tend to attract a larger number of boats with spectators, which can serve as a distraction.
"For the most part, people tend to be pretty respectful," Ashley said. Read more
Of the 56 competitors, Casey Ashley might be the most anxious to hit Lake Hartwell for the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
“I’ve been waiting six years for this,” said Ashley, who finished 17th in the 2008 Classic there. “That was my first Classic. I’ve been waiting on this chance again. And here it is.
“I’m super excited, and the closer it gets the more excited I get, especially now since I can’t be on the water, it makes it even worse.” Read More
The 45th Bassmaster Classic is now less than a month away--it will be fished at Lake Hartwell near Greenville, S.C., Feb. 20-22, with $300,000 going to the top angler.
The 56 Classic qualifiers range in age from 24 (Jacob Wheeler) to 63 (Paul Elias) and in experience from first-time qualifiers (13 of them) to Mark Davis, who is fishing his 18th championship. They've had success on Hartwell (Casey Ashley won an FLW event at about the same time of year in 2014) and they've bombed (Chris Lane was 49th out of 50 there in the 2008 Classic). Who's going to win this year? Read More