Traditionally, winning a major event—let alone the Classic—on your hometown waters has been an impossibility. In fact, a tournament at home was deemed the proverbial “kiss of death.”
That just isn’t the case any more, household names like Boyd Duckett, Randy Howell and Mike Iaconelli, among others, has debunked the theory completely. “There is no sweeter victory than to hold this trophy up in front of my hometown,” Ashley claimed, just minutes following his first-ever Classic victory.
Ashley’s Day 1 on Lake Hartwell found him with 5 fish for 15-3 and a 6th place seat. Day 2 he moved up to 5th place after faltering a pound where he weighed 14-11. But, he managed one of only a few 20-plus-pound bags of the event for a day three total of 20-3 and a combined 3-day weight of 50-1 to take the cake.
While specific details are still a bit fuzzy, it sounds like Ashley caught his days 1 and 2 bags mostly with a jig, but moved to a homemade lure his father made just a few weeks before the event, which makes it even sweeter.
There is no bigger show or a bigger accomplishment in bass fishing than hoisting that trophy up, especially in front of a near 100,000 spectators from your hometown. I’ve had the pleasure of spending a day in Ashley’s boat and can confirm that he is as genuine, hardcore and dedicated as any angler on tour. Personally, I am very happy he was able to pull it off!
Ashley was joined on stage by his after and his young son to celebrate the accomplishment. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. This is a very emotional sport and the family and sponsor support required to chase this dream is tough to describe, no question about it. All you have to do is listen to each angler speak at event weigh-ins. It was a very touching moment to see three generations of Ashleys partake in a moment of joy on the biggest stage in bass fishing.
This is a funny situation—you can see my original picks here, but I made some adjustments as the tournament got closer. Some decisions were good calls while others didn’t pan out. First, Bobby Lane got 2nd place and I had him selected in my D Bucket, which I later replaced with Ott DeFoe. DeFoe did great and finished 11th, so it wasn't a total loss. I didn’t see that one coming.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my Fantasy finish, especially since I picked Ashley to win. Can’t complain about that! Here’s how my Fantasy team finished the event.
A Bucket: Aaron Martens, 30th
B Bucket: Casey Ashley, 1st
C Bucket: Mike Iaconelli, 6th
D Bucket: Ott DeFoe, 11th
E Bucket: Jacob Wheeler, 14th
1st Casey Ashley, 50-1
2nd Bobby Lane, 46-15
3rd Takahiro Omori, 44-3
4th Dean Rojas, 43-13
5th Jacob Powroznik, 43-1
I did alright on my picks at this event, but the season just started and there are plenty more events that will play into my season-ending total. I’m excited to see how it ends up, but this was a great way to get it started.
Congrats Casey Ashley!