Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Classic's Local Flavor

Casey Ashley had a crowd around him almost constantly during
Media Day for the Bassmaster Classic.
"My sponsors love it," Casey Ashley said with his typical relaxed smile in answer to what he thought about having so much focus on him going into the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

Casey Ashley
Ashley, one of two South Carolina anglers in the Classic field, is getting as much attention as the "favorite" to win the Classic as any angler I remember. Beyond living in Donalds, S.C., a half hour or so from the lake, Ashley showed his understanding of Hartwell bass about this time last year when he won an FLW Tour event on the lake with a similarly cold snap that had a lot of pros baffled.

Ashley, of course, discounts the hype. "You can't predict who is going to win a fishing tournament."

He doesn't deny that he knows the lake very well and that his chances of figuring out the right things are as good as anyone's He's fished tournaments in South Carolina since he was 10 years old, and he can't even remember the first time he fished Lake Hartwell. He's also paid extra close attention to Hartwell since 2008, the first time the Classic was held on this big impoundment of the Savannah River. That Classic was so well received that he was certain it would be back.

Ashley's contention is simply that fish are still fish.

"Any of these guys would tell you that you can't make the fish bite. If you're not in the right place or doing the right thing, it doesn't matter how much you know.

Andy Montgomery
Andy Montgomery, the other South Carolina pro in the field, has been able to fly a least a little under Blacksburg is a couple of hours away, and he considers Lake Wylie his home waters. Montgomery hasn't spent an enormous amount of time fishing Hartwell over the years, but he still knows the lake and South Carolina bass very well, and he believes he is well prepared for the competition, which begins tomorrow.
the radar. His hometown of

Ironically, Montgomery when to school at Clemson, which looks over Lake Hartwell, but he spent most of his play days fishing nearby Lake Keowee while he was in school. "Now I kind of wishh I'd spent more time fishing Lake Hartwell," he laughed.

Montgomery is thrilled about the opportunity to compete in the Classic on Lake Hartwell. He's also excited to help represent his home state of South Carolina.

Montgomery expects Hartwell to impress a lot of people, despite the doom and gloom talk related to the cold. He anticipates seeing a lot of big spotted bass and largemouths brought to the scales.

Ashley agrees. "Hartwell is a great lake, and it is the best it has been for a long time. It offers so much. You can fish deep in clear water or shallow in dirty water. I'm guessing there will be at least four completely different patterns in the top 10."

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