Casey Ashley returned to the same ares of Lake Guntersville and fished the same pattern he identified on the first day of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

His reward was an 18-pound, 10-ounce stringer of bass that kept him in the hunt for the Classic title. His two-day total of 41-12 earned him a sixth-place ranking going into the final round of competition.

He is less than 6 pounds behind leader Edwin Evers — and that’s a weight that can easily be overcome on Guntersville.

Ashley said the protected cove he has been fishing has really cleared up, and that did seem to impact his bite.

“I had a lot of short bites today,” he said. “I would pull that (lipless crankbait) through the water and they would knock slack in the line, and when I set the hook nothing would be there.”

He said the water had cooled significantly overnight, falling to 47 degrees. And it was hours before it warmed up.

“It took until 2 o’clock (in the afternoon) to get to 52 degrees,” Ashley said.

Unlike most of the field, current hasn’t been an issue for the Donalds pro, and although he found it more difficult to stick fish today he said he will head right back to the cove when the final round of competition begins tomorrow.

“I still feel like there’s a lot of fish in that place,” Ashley said.

He said he did have some issues with other boats in the area — not because they were fishing his area, but that the spectators would unknowingly drift into his fishing area.

“I’m fishing; I’m not sitting in one spot,” Ashley said. “So (the spectators) don’t know where I’m going.”

The decision facing Ashley was whether to live and die by his cove or to try another area.

“I have one place way up the river,” he said, adding that he was unsure if he could make the run to that area and still have time to fall back on the area he fished the past two days. “I’ve got to sleep on it.”

It could be a decision that determines how he finishes.

“It can either make you or break you, that’s the thing about it,” Ashley said.