East Texas angler narrowly misses out on winning the Bass Masters Classic

Casey Ashley won the Bassmaster Classic held out of Greenville, S.C., Sunday, wi

The Super Bowl of bass fishing was held this past weekend, and as usual, East Texas anglers did well but didn’t come through in the clutch. This was a field of some of the best bass fishermen in the world. At the final weigh-in, South Carolina angler Casey Ashley won first place and $300,000.

Out of the 25 anglers fishing on the final day, Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, was third, James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, was 21st, Jasper’s Todd Faircloth was 23rd and Keith Combs of Huntington was 25th. That’s a pretty good representation from the Pineywoods, a region of Texas that is well known for producing some of the very best bass fishermen in the world for decades.

Ashley, a 31-year-old South Carolina native who has lived just a few miles from Lake Hartwell all his life, caught five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces for his win in the Classic. He had a three-day total of 50-1.

The weight was enough to help Ashley past Bobby Lane of Florida, who finished second with 46-15, and Texas angler Omori, who placed third with 44-3.

“Ashley is an accomplished singer, songwriter and musician in addition to his career as a pro angler, says Davilyn Walston with BASS. “During the Classic Ashley, steadily caught fish every day on a homemade fish-head spinner rigged with a Zoom Super Fluke Jr. in pearl white. His father, Danny, made him about 20 of the baits before the tournament began.

“Ashley prefers to fish a jig, and he won an FLW Tour event last year on Hartwell doing just that. But the more he tried it, the more he realized it might sink him if he didn’t abandon the tactic and stick with the baits his dad made for him.”

“I was going out and getting a good limit with that bait and then going and fishing brush piles and structure looking for big fish with a jig,” said Ashley. “I burned a lot of time doing that the first two days.”

With the conditions rainy and overcast on Sunday, Ashley stuck with the pattern that helped him catch 10 fish that weighed 29-14 on Friday and Saturday. It paid off as he steadily culled fish throughout the day Sunday, according to Walston.

The big bass of the Classic weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.