Ashley widens home-lake lead
07.Mar.2014 by Brett Carlson
SENECA, S.C. – It was inconceivable to think the conditions could get any worse at the Walmart FLW Tour event, but that’s exactly what happened on day two at Lake Hartwell. In addition to the wind and cold, steady rain pounded the field and changed the water color in many of Hartwell’s popular creeks from stained to burnt orange.
The bite changed for pro leader Casey Ashley, but he was still able to build his lead to nearly 3 pounds. Instead of catching mainly largemouths, today Ashley weighed four sizeable spots and just one bucketmouth.
“Yesterday was really a freak thing,” said Ashley who lives in nearby Donalds, S.C. “I made every right move yesterday. It took me until 1 p.m. to get a limit today, but then I culled six or seven times. It’s slow fishing. I’m picking off one here, and one there. I was able to fish some new stuff today because the wind blew out of another direction and I was able to fish where I couldn’t get to yesterday.”
Ashley said that he has been catching most of his fish this week on a jig and a shaky head. The lone largemouth that he weighed Friday came via a swimbait in the back of a creek, something he rarely throws. Other than starting each morning on schooling fish, Ashley’s overall pattern is still unclear.
“I’m spending a lot of time in the right areas and just fishing methodically and precisely. The sun doesn’t really help or hurt me. The fish that I am catching now are relating to what they relate to for different reasons. They just live there, like a brush pile under a dock.”
With a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 37 pounds, 4 ounces, Ashley has nearly a 3-pound lead at the halfway point in the tournament.
“This is a dream come true to fish a big tournament on your home waters like this and have it work. The weather has been nasty, but it’s changing every day. I’m just taking it day by day, because I know that the fish are going to change, too. Right now, they are not real active. I think that if we get another warming trend we’ll get another wave of them to pull up. I’ve got three Shad Raps tied on just waiting for that bite to emerge.
The top 20 pros that will fish Saturday on Lake Hartwell are:
1st: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 37-4
2nd: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 10 bass, 34-8
3rd: Clent Davis, Montevallo, Ala., 10 bass, 33-14
4th: Barton Aiken, Greenville, S.C., 10 bass, 31-11
5th: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 29-12
6th: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 10 bass, 28-12
7th: Ryan Davidson, Huntington, W. Va., 10 bass, 28-8
8th: Charlie Ingram, Centerville, Tenn., 10 bass, 28-2
9th: Randall Tharp, Port St. Joe, Fla., 10 bass, 28-2
10th: Shad Schenck, Waynetown, Ind., 10 bass, 27-11
11th: George Foreman pro Dan Morehead, Paducah, Ky., 10 bass, 27-4
12th: Repel pro Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 10 bass, 27-2
13th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., 10 bass, 27-2
14th: Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 26-10
15th: Walmart pro Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 25-10
16th: Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C., 10 bass, 25-8
17th: Rayovac pro Jacob Wheeler, Indianapolis, Ind., 10 bass, 25-2
18th: Barry Wilson, Birmingham, Ala., eight bass, 25-1
19th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., eight bass, 25-0
20th: Stacey King, Reeds Spring, Mo., 10 bass, 24-15