It certainly didn't rain on Casey Ashley's parade.
Ashley shrugged off the pressure of being the home-lake favorite to reach the pinnacle of piscatorial prowess Sunday, staging a big comeback on a rainy final day to win the 45th Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell.
Ashley is from the small Abbeville County town of Donalds – population 348 when Casey's not on the road – and it appeared that number and considerably more joined a crowd of more than 10,000 bass fishing fans who packed the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for Sunday evening's final weigh-in.
They didn't go home disappointed.
Ashley became just the third angler to win a Classic held in his home state and the first to win on what what would be considered his "home water."
The 30-year-old angler earned $300,000 from a purse of $1.05 million, pushing his career winnings to $1.15 million since launching his Bassmaster career in 2006.
"I've dreamed of this since I was a kid," Ashley said. "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." Read Full Story
GREENVILLE, S.C. - On Sunday evening at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Casey Ashley completed a journey that began more than three decades ago and seemed to drag on forever these past few weeks.
The 31-year-old South Carolina native, who has lived just a few miles from Lake Hartwell all his life, caught five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces to cap a moving victory in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on his home waters with a three-day total of 50-1.
The weight was enough to help Ashley past Florida pro Bobby Lane, Jr., who finished second with 46-15, and Texas angler Takahiro Omori who placed third with 44-3.
The end of the weigh-in meant Ashley could finally take a deep breath after seven weeks when the lake was mostly off-limits due to B.A.S.S. rules and when virtually everyone he saw wanted to talk about him being the favorite to win.
“I worked a show in Greenville at the TD Convention Center (in mid-January), and I bet I thought about the Classic 50,000 times while I was standing there,” said Ashley, who won the event on his sixth try. “My first Classic was here (in 2008), and ever since then I’ve been saying I’d like to have that one back.
“I wanted to win so bad here at home, and I had a long time to think about it. It was pretty rough.”
Once it began, Ashley made the most of his opportunity.
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