Industry rep Alan McGuckin passed along this piece today about Elite Series pro Casey Ashley's love-hate relationship with smallmouth bass.
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 not long after weighing in a respectable 15-pound limit on day 1 at the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship at Lake Michigan.
Rest assured the likable South Carolina pro isn’t complaining that today's round was canceled due to high winds, and he probably won’t even spend much time tweaking tackle during this unplanned day off.
A glance at his Triton’s front deck revealed nine rods and reels after the opening day of competition; four of them baitcasters decorated with jerkbaits, the other five were all size 30 Quantum Smoke and Energy spinning reels sporting standard smallmouth fare such as tubes and drop shots – leaving no doubt Ashley knows what to throw. It’s more of a struggle of where to throw.
“My big struggle with smallmouth is they’re so random,” he explained in a frustrated tone. “With largemouth, I can pretty much tell you what cast is gonna get a bite based on the fact that largemouth live in predictable places, but with smallmouth, I swear sometimes I could do just as well casting over my shoulder, as when I try to pinpoint them.”
Ashley may struggle with smallmouth, but his 10th-place standing in the Toyota AOY race entering this tournament proves his 2014 season has been anything but a struggle. He was in the select group of anglers that only needed to register a single fish catch this week in order to cement his berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic, which is slated for his home waters at Lake Hartwell.
“I’m not even sure I had to catch a bass here to stay qualified for the 2015 Classic, but I’ll admit I screamed like (Mike) Iaconelli when I caught that first keeper today, just knowing for certain at that moment that I had locked myself in for Hartwell,” said Ashley.
Fishing alongside father Danny, Hartwell’s waters baptized the young Ashley’s penchant for competitive angling 15 years ago, and his recent wire-to-wire $100,000 FLW Tour win at Hartwell just seven months ago left no doubt how dominant he can be there at the very same time of year he’ll compete for a life-changing Classic win in 2015.
It could happen, but with no thanks to smallmouth.