Set Ascending Direction
Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2

As a tight end for the Dixie Hornets in rural South Carolina, 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ Casey Ashley didn’t get to touch the ball much.

 “We ran the wishbone all the time, so my job was to block,” says Ashley. “Every team in the county knew what play we were gonna run next, but the tough part was stopping us.”

 After two full days of practice at the 2018 Huk Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River separating New York and Canada, Casey has already had his hand on several footballs -- big, fat, bronze colored footballs with fins, better known as smallmouth bass.

 “I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve already touched a handful of smallies over 4-pounds, and I think a whole bunch of other pros probably have too,” grinned Ashley. “I actually think the fish have gotten bigger on the St. Lawrence since we competed here last summer.”

 The Quantum pro had no problem putting his guitar picking paws around a Wilson football on the shores of the Chippewa Bay boat ramp, however, getting ahold of the St. Lawrence’s beefy smallmouth has been far more challenging.

 

 

 “I’ll put it to you this way, there were a few fish I tried to grab here in practice that were way too strong, and way too thick to get a handle on. You may not catch tons of fish here, but I’ll promise you, when you get a bite, there’s a real good chance it’ll be a ‘football’.”

In much the same way the Dixie Hornets didn’t disguise their offensive tendencies, Ashley doesn’t hide his love of the St. Lawrence River.

 “I love this place, because even though I consider here and Lake St. Clair to be the two greatest smallmouth fisheries we compete on, this place also offers some pretty strong largemouth fishing too,” says Ashley.

 Last year, Ashley notched a Top 12 here with a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth. Now, with four Quantum size 30 spinning reels and nine baitcasting reels on the front deck, it’s obvious he’s sampling a wide range of the diverse habit offerings on this primary shipping channel connecting the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

 And as for Ashley’s favorite high school football memory from back in 2002… well, that’s pretty clear too. “We beat a team nobody thought we could. They were our archrival, Calhoun Falls, and they had a running quarterback we nicknamed ‘White Shoes’ – man, that sucker was fast,” grinned Ashley, still shaking his head with admiration 16 years later.

 Maybe even faster than a 5-pound St. Lawrence “football” screaming drag from a spinning reel on 7-pound test, perhaps. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

 

Casey Ashley caught a solid limit amid Thursday’s sweltering heat to sit near the top of the leaderboard. The always easy-going 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ took a minute prior to Friday’s launch to talk about Lake Travis, Toyota Trucks, swimbaits, and even a mention of Texas native Willie Nelson.

  

 

 

 

 

  

Q: What was the biggest surprise amid Day 1 of competition here at Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department?

 Casey: The biggest surprise was that I actually caught a decent limit, because while you may catch 100 fish a day here, the randomness of catching a big one is truly an unknown.

 

 Q: Your biggest fish yesterday was a 4 pound 5 ounce largemouth. How did you catch it?

 Casey: I caught it on one of my absolute all time favorite lures – a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm rigged on a Casey Ashley Shaky Head from Greenfish Tackle.

  

Q: This week’s tournament is title sponsored by Toyota, and you’ve bought a bunch of Tundras. How many Toyota Tundras have you owned throughout your Elite Series career?

 Casey: I’ve bought five Tundras, and my daddy has bought two as well - so seven Tundras total between the two of us.

  

Q: You’re a music man. You recorded a demo CD in Nashville a few years back, and you’ve sang the National Anthem on a handful of occasions before blast-off at an Elite Series tournament. What song is stuck in your head this morning?

 Casey: Kenny Chesney’s “Lucky Old Sun” – which is pretty fitting for the hot weather we’re having here, and the fact it features Texas native Willie Nelson singing along with Kenny.

  

Q: Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest helps raise money that Texas Parks and Wildlife uses to fund urban youth fishing initiatives. You have a youth angler of your own – a 5-year-old son named Troy. Tell us about fishing with him?

 Casey: I’ve learned from taking Troy fishing that size and species don’t matter. It’s all about getting a bite. And still there are times when I can be catching one crappie after another, and he’ll still lose interest. So when they tell you they’re done, don’t make them stay, or you’ll ruin the experience.

 I will say here at Lake Travis would be a great place to take a kid fishing, because there’s so many fish in here. I’d just tie on a little 3” swimbait for him, and let him cast and wind it on a Zebco reel. And as many little 12 to 13” bass that swim here – I’ll promise ya he’d have a real good chance of catching one. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

The limestone, sandstone, and dolomite beds that cradle Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees yielded a disappointing 11-pound limit for Casey Ashley on Day 1 of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite.

 But the diamond he presented to longtime girlfriend Kenzi Hartman, in front of her friends and family at her parent’s home just down Interstate-44 in Broken Arrow last weekend, provided the emotional equivalent of his 2015 Bassmaster Classic win.

 Grand Lake holds special significance to Casey and Kenzi. The first time they met one another was when the South Carolina pro traveled to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake to work for sponsors such as Triton, Costa, and Quantum at the Classic Outdoor Expo.

 It was one of the few Classics he’s failed to qualify for in his illustrious young career, but he netted a first date during the visit when Bob Bagby, a longtime marketing leader at Quantum, arranged for Casey to meet Kenzi, who Bagby knew through her former part time job at a local golf course.

 To say the first date went well, would be like saying Casey ain’t half bad at pitchin’ a jig. Six months after they met, Casey asked Kenzi to move from Northeast Oklahoma to be with him fulltime in South Carolina, and to travel the Bassmaster Elite Series tour with him.

 The Oklahoma State grad resigned a great job she had in sales, said a gut-wrenching goodbye to her parents and many close friends, and has been with Casey in South Carolina, and wherever the professional angling lifestyle takes them, ever since.

 For the last five years, romantic trips to the mountains, beaches and many other significant destinations passed without the marriage proposal every girl dreams of. “All those great times came and went, and he never proposed, so I really had no clue he would ask me to marry him at my parents last weekend, but it was absolutely perfect,” says Kenzi.

 “Rule #1 before any serious bass angler gives a girl a diamond ring is that she has to be a good cook, and she has to be able to back a boat trailer down a ramp. Kenzi can do both, and not only can she cook, but she’s a dang good cook,” says the Quantum pro.

 The other rule is no runny eggs. The 2015 Classic champ and country boy, who once recorded a demo CD in Nashville under the tutelage of highly accomplished songwriter and avid angler Rodney Clawson, refuses to eat eggs over easy. But Kenzi’s homemade chicken Alfredo … well, now … that’s the tall brunette’s very best dish according to Casey.

 Kenzi’s chicken Alfredo, Popeye’s spinach, General Mills’ Wheaties – whatever it takes to get Casey back in the hunt on the leaderboard – should probably be on the menu to make up for Casey’s small limit on Day 1.

 “Back home, you don’t even start to think about looking for bass on spawning beds until the water temp hits 60-degrees. So with the water being in the high 50s and dingy here, I went shallow crankin’ until late in the afternoon on Thursday when I saw two 3-pounders on a spawning bed, and I knew right then I had missed-out on how they were catchin ‘em here,” says Ashley.

 He mighta missed Grand Lake’s largemouth, but he’ll head east to the next Elite Series event at Kentucky Lake with one heckuva catch named Kenzi, and a diamond on her finger.

 

  

  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

6 Bassmaster Classic Questions with Casey Ashley

March 12, 2018 5:00:00 PM EDT

 The Basssmaster Classic returns to Casey Ashley’s home waters of Lake Hartwell this week where he won the 2015 Classic, and the easy-going country boy with a thousand dollar smile was kind enough to invite us into his home for a brief conversation just days before bass fishing’s biggest event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: How are you doing this week before the Classic, as compared to where your head and heart were a few days before the 2015 Classic?

 Casey: “Well, I’d like to tell you I’m more relaxed, but that really isn’t the case, because all the variables I didn’t want to happen like rising water, a lot of warm weather last month, and warmer water temperatures, have all happened, so the fish are kind of in an in-between state and it’s gonna be a grind.”

 Q: Speaking of that 2015 Classic, it’s well-known that your dad, Danny made the winning lure. Your dad is also a really good angler. If we granted him a spot as a competitor in this year’s Classic, how do you think he’d perform against the best anglers in the world?

 Casey: “He probably wouldn’t do too good (grinning), because the fish are in an in-between state versus schooled-up and on specific spots he knows well. Last month’s warm weather pulled the fish up shallow, then it got cold again, but the bass never fully returned to deep water.”

 Q: Speaking of deeper water, in your best estimation what percentage of all the bass weighed-in this week will come from water deeper than 10-feet?

 Casey: I’d guess about 65% will be caught from deeper than 10-feet of water.

 Q: If you could sneak a peek into the rod lockers of all the 2018 Bassmaster Classic competitors, what four lures do you think you’d see the most?

 Casey: Jerkbait, ½ ounce jig, Shaky Head, and a Shad Rap.

 Q: What might surprise fans most about this Classic?

 Casey: Probably the amount of change and fluctuation they’re going to see in the names on the leaderboard, because being consistent in this tournament for three straight days is going to be super challenging.

 Q: You’re a music man. You said that country music group, Alabama’s song “Why Lady Why” had a big influence on your 2015 Bassmaster Classic win. Are there any songs that are influencing you this week?

 Casey: “No, not really. I’m a big fan of Chris Stapleton. His song “Broken Halos” is a great one. But I love listening to a lot of country music songs that never even made it on the radio.”

  

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

Casey Is Catching On To Smallmouth

August 25, 2017 12:00:00 AM EDT

 Casey Ashley has been saying for years that he doesn’t like smallmouth.

 But given the fact the 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ sits soundly inside the Top 5 of a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race that’s tighter than the dry storage lids of his Triton, well, it’s fair to say, the soft spoken South Carolina pro is learning to live with the infamously ghost like bronze bombers that have dominated the summer portion of the Elite Series schedule.

 Fact is, he’s more than just tolerating smallmouth, he’s figuring them out – mostly by taking his own approach with a plan that involves a lot of treble hooks, fairly shallow water, and perhaps most importantly – a mindset of finally accepting the fact that smallmouth are not largemouth.

 

 “I still don’t like ‘em,” grinned the likeable Ashley minutes after dropping 18 pounds of smallmouth on the scales at Day 1 of the Advanced Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite Series on Lake St. Clair. “They’re still way too fickle to my liking. I found two spots late in practice Wednesday that were loaded with smallmouth, and today I never caught a single fish from either of those areas.”

 “A southern largemouth fisherman like myself is programmed to finding and catching fish from targets like a brushpile, a laydown tree, stumps, docks, whatever – but with smallmouth, you can forget about all that,” says Ashley. “I’ve learned that you stand just as good a chance by tossing the lure behind your shoulder at smallmouth -- especially on a massive, flat-bottomed lake like St. Clair, because they roam areas, instead of staying locked on targets,” explains Ashley.

 Jerks, Cranks, and Less than 10-feet Deep

 To explore expansive ‘areas’ Ashley has learned to lean heavily on faster moving lures like jerkbaits and crankbaits versus mega-popular drop shots and tube jigs.

 “It seems like I catch bigger smallmouth on jerkbaits and crankbaits than I do a drop shot, and those horizontal moving baits give me a better chance to cover more water too,” explains Ashley.

 “I’ve also learned to accept the fact that I’m way better at catching ‘em in less than 10-feet of water when at all possible. You force me to fish deeper than about 10-feet, and I feel like I’m out of my league,” admits Ashley.

 Tackle

 Ashley has no strict allegiance to a crankbait sponsor, so the ‘free agent’ mixes a blend of brands that often include Lucky Craft Staysee jerkbaits, and Strike King 5XD crankbaits, but one shared constant is the mid-range gear ratio of the reels he throws them on.

 “I use the 6.6:1 Quantum Smoke HD for cranking because it’s got a big spool with a lot of line capacity, and for the jerkbait, I use the brand new Smoke S3 in a 6.1:1, because it casts so far and smooth,” he explains.

 Ashley uses 10-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon line with his jerkbaits, but cranks with 12-pound Hi-Seas.

 Surprised by his success?

 When asked if he was surprised to be sitting so high in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points after a bevy of smallmouth tournaments, Ashley replied, “Maybe just a little surprised, but at the St. Lawrence River I was able to find fish in the current around structure, which makes me feel more comfortable, and at Champlain, I was able to blend a few largemouth into the mix.”

 As for St. Clair, he caught every fish he weighed-in during the Elite Series event of 2015 on a jerkbait, and finished 13th. So don’t expect him to change much. It’s a shallow-water plan he’s comfortable with, and it gets great results … even though he still doesn’t like smallmouth.  

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

 

Casey Ashley is known for his love of flip flops, laid back style, and Costa sunglasses, but as Labor Day night turned into Tuesday morning, he found himself beached well past midnight in very distressed fashion during practice for the Plano Bassmaster Elite on the Mississippi River.

 Finally, on Tuesday night, after losing most all of Day 2’s practice to the sandbar mishap, the likeable 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champion stood in a dark, rainy, hotel parking after a much-needed trip to Olive Garden with friends, recounting his taxing first 36 hours in La Crosse.

 “Our first day of practice was Monday, Labor Day, and I was running back in to the ramp to call it a day, when I got stuck at about 7:30 that evening,” says Ashley. “I was so shallow, that nearly my entire boat was out of the water, I knew there was no way I could call a fellow competitor to help me, because they’d have got stuck too.”

 “It was so shallow, that just before dark, as I sat there waiting on help, I had a raccoon wade past me and he didn’t even get the fur on his belly wet – I’m dead serious,” he grinned.

 Thankfully, he had cell service, and after placing a call to Trip Weldon to explain his predicament, Ashley and longtime girlfriend Kenzi Hartman, who was back at their hotel in La Crosse, began placing calls in search of a tow. However, on Labor Day evening, help was hard to come by. And eventually, a marine rescue team from a local fire department was dispatched.

 “I gave them my GPS coordinates, and text them a pin on my phone’s map, and for nearly three hours I could sit there and watch the red light flashing on the top of their boat, but they couldn’t see me,” explains Ashley.

 A raccoon wasn’t the only wildlife on the scene. Mosquitos were taking full advantage of his desolation. “They were eating me alive, so I put my rainsuit on, my cold weather face mask on, and stuffed my feet into the arms of my hoodie, because they were biting my feet so bad.”

 “Finally, just before 1:00 a.m., the fireman got to me with a Go-Devil style boat, and carried me back to the ramp, but I had to leave my Triton stuck on the sandbar all night,” he explains. “I got back to the hotel at 1:45 a.m., and all I could do was lay there and think about how in the world I was ever gonna get my boat off there in the morning.”

 That’s when help ironically came from a fellow angler in the form of longtime FLW pro and La Crosse resident Tom Monsoor, a Mississippi River tournament king often credited with inventing the swim jig. “We owe the people at Island Outdoors a ton of thanks, because they were the ones that put us in touch with Tom and his airboat on Tuesday morning,” says Ashley.

 Monsoor pulled him free from the sandbar in minutes, but then Ashley had to visit the Mercury Service Team to make sure no dirt had damaged the inner-workings of his outboard. Finally, Ashley returned for a very limited 4-hour practice session Tuesday.

 Wednesday, the final practice day, begins with rain and occasional lighting flashes to further remind Ashley and other Bassmatser Elites what a stressful grind the life of a pro can be. Plus, he desperately needs to do well in this event, as he sits in 41st place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

 “I’m a bubbly boy to make the Classic, and there’s about 10 of us all packed together in the points, so I need to catch ‘em. But at this point, even though I missed a lot of practice, I just gotta roll with it,” says Ashley, who certainly won’t dare go near the backwater that left him high, dry, and sleepless throughout much of his time in La Crosse thus far. 

Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

Casey Ashley’s tremendous success at GEICIO BASSfest along the flooded June shorelines of Lake Texoma is partially attributable to his decision to trade the braided line he practiced with, for fluorocarbon during the tournament.

 The 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champion’s line change was a very well thought-out move that’s kept him atop the leaderboard. And he graciously shared the details of why he traded line types before his first cast on Day 3 in a manner that can benefit any angler ever facing flooded trees and bushes.

 When Ashley and the other Elite Series pros started practice the lake was at least 8-feet above normal, and that not only flooded picnic tables and front yards, but literally every shoreline tree and bush you could see.

 Trying to dissect hundreds of acres of thick and flooded habitat in three days of practice, is a needle in the haystack situation. “I knew if I was gonna find the fish in that mess, I had to work fast and be pretty aggressive, and you can do that a whole lot faster with a heavy worm weight on braided line than you can fluorocarbon or monofilament,” explains the gifted vocalist and Classic Champ.

 “I used 50-pound Hi-Seas braid tied a big ‘ol ¾ ounce worm weight or jig in practice, and I could just punch through all those super thick flooded branches real quick to see if I could get a bite, and figure out which shorelines were holding fish,” says Ashley. “That’s all I was trying to do in practice – just figure out what shorelines were holding fish.”

 “But I knew in the tournament I’d use fluorocarbon because I truly believe big fish won’t bite braid as well as fluorocarbon in wood because braid makes too much noise rubbing across the branches,” says Ashley.

 “I love braid for topwaters, and when I’m fishing around thick vegetation, but in flooded wood – at least on tournament day – I’m gonna fish fluorocarbon,” he adds.

 “I spooled-up my Quantums with 20-pound Hi Seas fluorocarbon and a lighter ½ ounce weight for the derby. And sure enough, the first bite I got on Day 1 weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces,” he grinned. “So I knew pretty quick that I had made the right decision about what line to use,” says the highly likeable South Carolina pro who sat in first place after Day One, and in second place to begin Day 3. 

  

Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

 

The shad are spawning at Lake Wheeler. So a lot of Bassmaster Elite Series pros have a baitfish impersonating willow leaf spinnerbait tied on - most of them provided by sponsors.

 But no surprise, just like the under-spin 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,” says Ashley who slapped 19 pounds on the scales to sit in second place on Day One at Wheeler, including the biggest bass of the day – a 6 pound 14 ounce beast.

“Very few tournaments allow us to think we can tie on a spinnerbait, ride it for four 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,” says Ashley. “And when I build it, I’m confident the blades are always gonna spin, no matter how slow or fast I retrieve it,” says the easy going South Carolina pro.

“The spinnerbait 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,” says Ashley. “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 “Big Train”,” grinned the Quantum pro.

“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,” says Ashley, known for his old soul and simple approach to life.

Favorite Size: “Most of the time, I’ll start with a ½ ounce, 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 ¾ – but day in and day out, I use a ½ ounce.”

Blades and Beads: “I put a lot of beads between my blades for a reason,” smiles Ashley. “That keeps those blades separated, spaced apart – and always spinning – that’s really key,” he emphasizes. “I like a #4 size in gold up front, and a 4 ½ silver 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,” warns Ashley. “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.”

“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,” concludes Ashley.

He just simply prefers to make his own. 

 

Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

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.

Nobody knows better than the 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champion that the time is now to cut a hit single on Norfork and Bulls Shoals if he’s to have any chance at climbing out of a very unfamiliar place near the bottom of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings.

The good news is Ashley notched a Top 12 finish on the Elite Series’ last trip to Bull Shoals in 2013 by firing a Shaky Head worm around with a Quantum spinning reel. The bad news is that conditions are very different than three years ago.

“It’s the same time of year, but the water is about 10 degrees warmer than in 2013, plus it’s 5’ higher, and the fish are way more scattered,” says Ashley. “Not to mention, we were only dealing with one lake, instead of trying to figure out two.”

“Hard work is the only way I know how to approach it,” says Ashley. “I got up at 4:00 a.m. on the first day of practice, drove 45 minutes to Norfork, fished until nearly dark, then drove 45 minutes back to the cabin – and pretty much did the same exact thing on the second day of practice.”

Ashley spent most of his 12-hour practice days fishing Bull Shoals, but knows Norfork will be tougher. “You have to at least catch a limit on Day 1 at Norfork, and that may not be easy, but if you don’t catch a good limit at Bull Shoals on Day Two, there’s no way you can make the cut going into Saturday,” he says.

“Bull Shoals has bigger fish, so a 15 or 16 pound limit is realistic, but at Norfork we may have to grind to catch a 12 pound limit in order to survive the first day,” he forecasts.

He’s also estimating that 70-percent of the field will try to catch spawning bass, but hopes he’s in the 30-percent minority that can nearly ignore bedding fish to instead catch pre-spawners.

When asked what three lures would get the most work among the entire field, the South Carolina native listed a creature bait, a shaky head worm, and a soft plastic swimbait – but you can count on him to mix jerkbaits, and his beloved Classic winning Casey’s Classic Runner Head trimmed with a Zoom Super Fluke Jr., into the mix too.

Two Lakes. Four potential days of competition. A mix of lures. And only one direction to go for Ashley in the Toyota Angler of the Year Points. Hopefully hard work will leverage his first big hit of the season.

“Up in the morning. Out on the job. Work like the devil for my pay. But that lucky old sun ain't got nothing to do but roll around heaven all day.” – Kenny Chesney with Willie Nelson

 

Alan McGuckin

 

Posted By Lisa Adams

Quantum Pro Casey Ashley on lightweight performance

December 23, 2015 5:59:54 PM EST

Posted By Quantum Fishing

Casey Ashely's Bad First Trip

June 22, 2015 6:08:00 PM EDT

Posted By Quantum Fishing

Casey Ashley's Bad Motel Story

June 22, 2015 6:06:59 PM EDT

Posted By Quantum Fishing
Set Ascending Direction
Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2