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
Recently, B.A.S.S. held the drawing for boat numbers for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic at B.A.S.S. headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. The numbers were randomly drawn by B.A.S.S. staffers and will determine the order in which boats leave the dock on days 1 and 2 of the event.The top two positions were automatically given to reigning Angler of the Year Greg Hackney, who will be boat number 1, and Randy Howell, the 2014 Classic winner, who will be boat number 2. During the Classic, the full field of participants will be split into two flights, boats 1-28 and 29-56. On Day 1, the boats will head out on Lake Hartwell in numerical order. On Day 2, the order will be reversed with 56-29 followed by 28-1. On Day 3, after the field is cut to the Top 25, takeoff order will be decided by angler rank in the tournament.
Pro anglers are expected to have all the answers, know all there is to know about bass, but Casey Ashley confesses that when it comes to smallmouth, they’ve got his number.
“I’ve never sniffed a 20-pound limit in a smallmouth tournament, and best I can remember, I’ve never even cashed a check in a smallmouth dominated event,” said Ashley soon after weighing-in a respectable 15-pound limit on Day One at the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Michigan. Read More
Casey Ashley made a strong comeback from a 9-pound stringer on day 1 that had him in 21st place. After an abbreviated practice since he was coming from the Delaware River Elite Series in Philadelphia, he opted to go straight to his comfort zone – shallow water.
"If I'd have had 1 more day, I think I could've figured out that deep brush a little earlier," he said. "That could've changed the game. I fished a good tournament, though. I didn't lose any fish."
He said there was no pattern to what he caught fish off of, saying it was "as random as random could be."
"I just covered water and caught some on points, ramps, grass, the backs of pockets," he added. "All I had was a bait that for the most part if they blew up on it, they were going to eat it."
He focused mostly on Hollow Creek and Bear Creek because he'd had success there in past tournaments. He said the fishing was tough during pre-practice in July, but he opted to not go into Hollow Creek.
"I never went in there because I knew it was tough and if I couldn't get a bite I didn't want to mess my confidence up in that area," he said. "Bear Creek is just a really good area and about 80 percent of local tournaments are won around there."
His plan for the tournament was to fish shallow and try to catch a limit that way, then if he was close to some deeper brush, he'd stop and try to catch some upgrades. The key to his success was simply covering tons of new water every day.
He didn't get dialed in on the brush-pile bite until day 3 when he yanked a 4 and a 2 3/4-pounder off one spot.
"On day 1, I fished some and actually broke one off because it surprised me when he bit," he said. "On day 2, I ran some other brush, but I was in the wrong area up the river.
"On the last day, I fished some brush around 10 a.m., but there wasn't any fish in them and I only had one," he said. "Then I went to the back of this creek that I'd found that was full of 2- to 2 1/2-pounders. There were a ton of fish in there and I'd found it on the first day of practice. I fished it on day 1 to catch five. I never fished it on day 2 and caught another limit in there on day 3. I caught two more on day 4."
After he came out of the creek, he ran more brush and finished his limit with two more good keepers to run his weight to 14 pounds.
> Topwater gear: 6'8" Quantum Smoke PT Inshore casting rod, Quantum Exo PT casting reel (7.3:1 ratio), 15-pound Hi-Seas monofilament line, XCalibur Zell Pop (Z-Shad or Arkansas Shiner).
> Buzzbait gear: 7' medium-heavy Quantum Smoke PT casting rod, same reel (6.6:1 ratio), 17-pound Hi-Seas monofilament line, unnamed buzzbait (gold blade with shad color skirt), Zoom Horny Toad trailer (green-pumpkin pearl).
> His bait of choice when fishing brush was a 10" Zoom Ol' Monster worm. Read more