By BassFan Staff

It was a miserable day to be on the water at Lake Hartwell. The air temperature never got above 44 degrees, a northeast wind blew at a sustained 15 mph with gusts that reached the mid-20s and a near-freezing rain began to fall in the early afternoon.

All of that played right into Casey Ashley's hands.

Ashley, the two-time Bassmaster Elite Series winner who's fishing both major circuits this year, said the weather was the primary factor in him catching a 21-07 sack on opening day of the second stop of the 2014 FLW Tour. He lives just 40 minutes away in Donalds, S.C. and has seen these conditions at Hartwell before.

"When the lake gets really clear like this, those big ones get up there shallow and you can catch them when you get some nasty weather," he said. "What really helped me today was knowing the lake so well.

"You have to fish slow, but I know where to do it so I'm not wasting a lot of time. It's painful to fish that slow in this kind of weather, I'll tell you that."

He holds a 2 1/4-pound lead over Michigan rookie and Lake St. Clair guide Skip Johnson, who boxed 19-04. Floridian John Cox, who many would've assumed to be way out of his element in the brutal conditions, settled into the No. 3 slot with 18-13.

Jason Quinn, a South Carolinian who switched from the Elite Series to the FLW Tour this year, was next with 18-09. Kentucky veteran Ramie Colson Jr. rounded out the Top 5 with 17-10.

Here's a look at the early Top 10, with deficit margin from the leader indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Casey Ashley: 21-07
2. Skip Johnson: 19-04 (2-03)
3. John Cox: 18-13 (2-10)
4. Jason Quinn: 18-09 (2-14)
5. Ramie Colson Jr.: 17-10 (3-13)
6. Barry Wilson: 17-09 (3-14)
7. Clent Davis: 16-14 (4-09)
8. Cody Meyer: 16-04 (5-03)
9. Barton Aiken: 16-00 (5-07)
10. Rich Dalbey: 15-15 (5-08)

The shallow to mid-depth action ruled on day 1 and largemouths were the predominant species in the leaders' bags. Competitors who'd hoped to exploit offshore schools of spotted bass found rough going in the face of the powerful wind.

Andy Morgan, competing in his first event since taking over the No. 1 slot in the BassFan World Rankings, laid a solid foundation to make his sixth straight Top-20 cut and 11th in the past 12 derbies as his 14-15 stringer put him in 16th place. On the flip side, Brent Ehrler, the winner at Hartwell in 2012 and runner-up the previous year, was in 63rd after a 10-09 haul.

Day 2 is expected to be slightly warmer (a high temperature of 57 degrees is in the forecast), but the wintry conditions won't otherwise subside. Snow is expected overnight and there could be some flakes mixed with rain when the field launches in the morning. The wind (predicted to approach or exceed 20 mph again) will remain a big factor.

Anglers who advance to the weekend will be served with a whole new set of conditions as the stormy stuff will be gone, replaced by sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.

The field will be cut to 20 after the day-2 weigh-in, and then to the Top 10 for the final day. The winner will be determined Sunday based on cumulative weight.

Jig Produced for Ashley

> Day 1: 5, 21-07

Ashley, who comes in off an 11th-place showing in last month's Bassmaster Classic, topped the 20-pound mark without catching a fish over 5 pounds. He said a similar sack tomorrow is not out of the question.

"I need the wind to lay down just a little bit," he said. "I've got some stuff I couldn't fish today because of the wind."

He declined to reveal much about his pattern, but said he caught all the fish he weighed in on a jig. All were largemouths and the biggest was a 4 3/4-pounder.

"I don't think I lost any that would've helped me, but I did break a couple off in brush. I've got a couple places that are real aggravating to fish, but you've got to get them on before you can get them in."

His primary motivation for fishing both tours this year was the Forrest Wood Cup being slated for Lake Murray, but this event was also a major factor.

He had a superb day 1 at this year's Classic as well (he was in 4th place), but then saw his weights fall off each day thereafter. He experienced a similar and even more dramatic scenario at the Classic at Hartwell in 2008.

"I caught them pretty good the first day of that Classic and then fell apart," he said. "When I saw this one on the schedule, I wanted to come and get some revenge."

He knew he was in for a good day when he boated a handful of largemouths at his initial stop.

"I was trying to key on them first thing in the morning in the low-light conditions. If I'd only caught one, it probably would've been a 12- or 13-pound day, and if I caught two, it would've been 14 or 15 pounds. Today I caught five."

FLW/Rob Newell
Photo: FLW/Rob Newell

Skip Johnson went through 40 keepers en route to compiling his 19-04 bag.

2nd: Forty Keepers for Johnson

> Day 1: 5, 19-04

Johnson followed up a good practice with a stellar day 1.

"I knew I had something," he said. "It was all-or-nothing on that one spot.

He went through about 40 keepers that he caught by cranking the shallows with a Strike King Redeye Shad. The five he took to the scale all weighed between 3 3/4 and 4 1/4 pounds.

"I was fishing a little ditch on the flat and I had a lot of people surrounding me," he said. "I'm boat (No.) 87 tomorrow and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a hard time getting back on it. I'll take a bunch of tackle out of the boat tonight and try to make the Skeeter FX21 a little faster, and then I'll try to beat as many people there as I can."

He has a fall-back option, but he says he won't stay among the leaders if he has to revert to it.

"My backup stuff is worth about 10 pounds. It's nothing close to what I had today."

3rd: Cox Feels Fortunate

> Day 1: 5, 18-13

Cox figured that 11 or 12 pounds would be a decent day for him. He far exceeded that.

"I didn't really have a good practice," he said. "I caught a few fish, but nothing great. I think I had a little bit of luck today and ran into some bigger bites."

He handled approximately 30 keepers and his bag, comprised entirely of largemouths, was topped by a 4 1/2-pounder.

He said he's working the 10- to 15-foot depth range.

"I'm just junk-fishing I have like 10 rods on the deck. I hope I can do it again tomorrow, but there's no telling with this weather and stuff. I'll just have to go out and see what happens."

4th: Quinn Caught a Dozen

> Day 1: 5, 18-09

Quinn's home in Rock Hill, S.C. is less than a 2-hour drive from Hartwell. He has considerable experience on the lake, but most of it has come in the fall.

"I had a pretty good practice, but that weather today was miserable," he said. "I'm just catching fish that are kind of in transition they're out of their winter pattern and they're sort of staging up.

"I absolutely think there's a chance I can keep doing it, but I'd really like to see a little sunshine. It's kind of a grind in this weather. The fish are still there, but it's just kind of hard to make them eat.

A 5-pounder was the best of the dozen keepers he caught.

"I never lost anything at all."

5th: Colson Surprised

> Day 1: 5, 17-10

Colson had no inkling that he'd be among the Top 5 after day 1.

"Honestly, I had just about the worst practice ever," he said. "I was really looking forward to this tournament when I saw it on the schedule because I've always done pretty good here, but I didn't catch 10 keepers in 3 days. I kept trying different things, but I couldn't put anything together.

"Most of the bites I did get were on a jig, so I just threw everything out and tied up four jig rods and one with a ChatterBait and went fishing. I went to an area where I got two or three bites and put the trolling motor down and never left all day."

He fished transition banks with rock in the 10- to 15-foot range. He got seven keeper bites, the best of which went 5-14.

"It was a great day as far as not losing anything. I had two or three more bites, but I think they were crappie or maybe little spots.

"I don't think I'll change much (on day 2), but I might go to some different areas. I'm just fishing my comfort zone and I'll try to catch five and go from there."

147th: Frazier didn't Find 'Em

> Day 1: 3, 4-15

Micah Frazier was the runner-up to Ehrler at Harwell 2 years ago, but he won't come close to repeating that performance after a miserable opening day.

"I didn't get on them like I did last time," he said. "I never got enough good bites in any one area to really feel confident about it and just go there and put my head down and fish.

"Last time I had an area where I could pound out six or eight bites a day, and they were big ones. I don't have that this year and today I messed up and ran around too much."

He had a maximum of four keeper bites on the day.

"I might've lose one more," he said. "I didn't have a good day (execution-wise) in addition to not figuring them out.

"Tomorrow I'll start in a different area and just mix up the rotation a little bit."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 176 anglers, 121 limits, 14 fours, 13 threes, 12 twos, 12 ones, 4 zeroes.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., March 7 A.M. Wintry Mix - 57/38
- Wind: From the NE at 18 mph

> Sat., March 8 Partly Cloudy - 71/44
- Wind: From the W/SW at 9 mph

> Sun., March 9 Partly Cloudy - 70/42
- Wind: From the W/NW at 9 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 21-07 (5)

2. Skip Johnson -- Goodells, Mi -- 19-04 (5)

3. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 18-13 (5)

4. Jason Quinn -- Rock Hill, SC -- 18-09 (5)

5. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 17-10 (5)

6. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 17-09 (5)

7. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 16-14 (5)

8. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 16-04 (5)

9. Barton Aiken -- Greenville, SC -- 16-00 (5)

10. Rich Dalbey -- Greenville, Tx -- 15-15 (5)

11. Terry Bolton -- Paducah, Ky -- 15-14 (5)

12. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 15-05 (5)

13. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 15-04 (5)

14. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 15-03 (5)

15. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 15-01 (5)

16. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 14-15 (5)

17. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 14-14 (5)

18. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 14-12 (5)

19. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, Pa -- 14-06 (5)

20. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 13-15 (5)

20. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 13-15 (5)

22. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 13-13 (5)

23. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, NC -- 13-11 (5)

24. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 13-07 (5)

25. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 13-06 (5)

26. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, Fl -- 13-04 (5)

27. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 13-03 (5)

28. Ryan Chandler -- Valparaiso, In -- 13-02 (5)

29. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 12-14 (5)

30. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 12-11 (5)

31. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 12-09 (5)

32. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 12-08 (5)

32. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 12-08 (5)

34. Greg Bohannan -- Rogers, Ar -- 12-07 (5)

35. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 12-05 (5)

36. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 12-03 (5)

37. Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 11-12 (5)

38. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, Ok -- 11-11 (5)

39. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 11-10 (5)

39. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 11-10 (5)

41. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, SC -- 11-08 (5)

41. Casey Martin -- New Hope, Al -- 11-08 (4)

43. Payden Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 11-07 (5)

44. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 11-06 (5)

45. Bill Day -- Frankfort, Ky -- 11-05 (5)

46. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 11-04 (5)

46. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 11-04 (5)

46. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 11-04 (5)

49. Jayme Rampey -- Liberty, SC -- 11-01 (5)

50. Keith Amerson -- Bethel Springs, Tn -- 11-00 (2)

50. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 11-00 (5)

50. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 11-00 (5)

53. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 10-14 (5)

53. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 10-14 (5)

53. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 10-14 (5)

53. Ray Meredith -- Smiths Grove, Ky -- 10-14 (5)

57. Charlie Evans -- Gilbertsville, Ky -- 10-13 (5)

57. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 10-13 (5)

57. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 10-13 (5)

60. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 10-12 (5)

60. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 10-12 (5)

62. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 10-10 (5)

63. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, Ca -- 10-09 (5)

64. Jacob Wheeler -- Indianapolis, In -- 10-08 (5)

65. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 10-06 (5)

65. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 10-06 (5)

67. Tim Wilson -- Gas City, In -- 10-05 (5)

68. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, Fl -- 10-04 (5)

69. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 10-03 (5)

69. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 10-03 (5)

71. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 10-01 (5)

71. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 10-01 (5)

73. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 10-00 (5)

74. Peter Thliveros -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 9-14 (5)

74. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 9-14 (5)

76. Tony Davis -- Williston, Fl -- 9-12 (4)

76. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 9-12 (5)

76. Kyle White -- Tightwad, Mo -- 9-12 (4)

79. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 9-11 (5)

79. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 9-11 (5)

79. Drew Montgomery -- Denver, NC -- 9-11 (5)

82. Mark Daniels Jr -- Fairfield, Ca -- 9-10 (5)

83. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 9-07 (5)

84. Brent Long -- Iron Station, NC -- 9-06 (5)

85. Brad Knight -- Wartburg, Tn -- 9-04 (5)

85. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 9-04 (5)

85. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 9-04 (5)

88. Leon Williams -- Fairdale, Ky -- 9-02 (5)

89. John Murray -- Phoenix, Az -- 9-01 (4)

90. Kelly Power -- Cape Fair, Mo -- 9-00 (5)

90. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 9-00 (5)

92. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 8-15 (5)

92. Ryan Davidson -- Huntington, WV -- 8-15 (5)

92. Spencer Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 8-15 (5)

95. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 8-13 (5)

95. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La -- 8-13 (5)

97. Lionel Botha -- Okeechobee, Fl -- 8-12 (5)

98. Rick Cotten -- Guntersville, Al -- 8-11 (5)

99. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 8-09 (5)

99. George Kapiton -- Inverness, Fl -- 8-09 (5)

99. JT Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 8-09 (5)

102. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 8-08 (4)

103. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 8-06 (5)

104. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 8-05 (5)

104. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 8-05 (5)

106. Chris Heath -- North Augusta, SC -- 8-04 (5)

107. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 8-03 (5)

107. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 8-03 (5)

107. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 8-03 (5)

110. Drew Benton -- Panama City, Fl -- 8-02 (4)

110. Rodney Thomason -- Maumelle, Ar -- 8-02 (5)

110. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 8-02 (5)

113. James Watson -- Waynesville, Mo -- 8-01 (5)

114. Philip Jarabeck -- Lynchburg, Va -- 8-00 (5)

115. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 7-15 (5)

116. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 7-14 (5)

117. Guido Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 7-10 (5)

118. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 7-05 (5)

119. Dion Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 7-04 (3)

119. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 7-04 (5)

121. Bo Cross -- Knoxville, Tn -- 7-02 (5)

121. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 7-02 (4)

121. Kevin Stewart -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 7-02 (5)

124. Bill McDonald -- Greenwood, In -- 7-01 (5)

125. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 6-15 (5)

125. Matt Herren -- Trussville, Al -- 6-15 (5)

127. Wade Leblanc -- Gonzales, La -- 6-14 (4)

128. RC Cooper -- Nashua, Nh -- 6-10 (4)

128. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, Tn -- 6-10 (5)

130. Robert Collins -- Morrow, Oh -- 6-09 (2)

131. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 6-07 (5)

131. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 6-07 (5)

133. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, Al -- 6-06 (3)

133. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 6-06 (4)

133. Brad Rightnour -- Howard, Pa -- 6-06 (4)

133. Ray Scheide -- Dover, Ar -- 6-06 (3)

137. Zach Caudle -- Shreveport, La -- 6-05 (3)

138. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, Ok -- 6-02 (4)

139. Richard Peek -- Centre, Al -- 6-00 (3)

140. Tim Malone -- Gatlinburg, Tn -- 5-09 (2)

141. Dustin Grice -- Hewitt, Tx -- 5-08 (4)

142. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 5-06 (3)

143. James Christian -- Dickson, Tn -- 5-04 (4)

143. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 5-04 (3)

143. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 5-04 (5)

146. Shane Lehew -- Charlotte, NC -- 5-00 (3)

147. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, Ga -- 4-15 (3)

148. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 4-12 (2)

149. Patrick Bone -- Cleveland, Ga -- 4-08 (2)

150. Marc Evans -- Angola, In -- 4-06 (3)

151. Shirley Crain -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 4-01 (2)

152. Travis Loyd -- Kinmundy, Il -- 4-00 (2)

152. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 4-00 (2)

152. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 4-00 (3)

155. Wade Hendricks -- Thompsons Station, Tn -- 3-15 (2)

155. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 3-15 (1)

157. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 3-11 (3)

158. Troy Gibson -- Eufaula, Al -- 3-10 (2)

158. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 3-10 (2)

160. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 3-07 (3)

161. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 3-03 (1)

162. Justin Morton -- Etoile, Tx -- 3-02 (1)

163. Jerry Reagan -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 3-00 (1)

164. Troy Hollowell -- Paducah, Ky -- 2-10 (1)

165. Nick Prvonozac -- Warren, Oh -- 2-09 (2)

166. Andrew Luxon -- Richmond, Ky -- 2-01 (1)

167. Jim Dillard -- West Monroe, La -- 1-14 (1)

168. Tommy Robinson -- Westland, Mi -- 1-13 (1)

169. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 1-10 (1)

170. Tony Dumitras -- Wnston, Ga -- 1-09 (1)

170. Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 1-09 (1)

172. Jeff Barth -- Marshfield, Wi -- 0-14 (1)

Stuart Arthur -- Benton, Mo -- 0-00 (3)

Stephen Mckinnie -- Umatila, Fl -- 0-00 (0)

Eric Olliverson -- Lampe, Mo -- 0-00 (0)

Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

> Day 1: Keith Amerson -- 6-13 -- $500