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