And while any pro likes to win, Ashley was more impressed with the fact that he'd earned a spot in the $100,000 All-Star Championship, which will begin Friday (July 29) on the Alabama River out of Montgomery, Ala.
"Winning's nice, but that I won today doesn't really matter," said the 27-year-old from Donalds, S.C., who had never before competed on Lake Jordan.
Complete standings can be found at Bassmaster.com.
Ashely bested 11 other competitors with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 8 ounces.
Ashley was one of eight Elite Series pros who qualified to compete July 29-31 in the second half of Bassmaster's All-Star Week.
The Alabama River event will be three days of sudden-death match fishing, pitting one angler against another; each day, half the field will be eliminated until only two remain on Sunday (July 31) and go head-to-head for $100,000, winner take all.
Ashley, a two-time Bassmaster winner, was elated that his first Alabama River opponent would be California's Skeet Reese., a fellow Elite Series pro with six wins that include the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
"I wanted the best, and I got the best," Ashley said.
A reporter asked Ashley if he felt he could take Reese. Ashley shrugged his shoulders.
"I've never been on the river before," he said. "It depends how my practice days go. I'm not going to back down from him, I can tell you that."
In the first minutes after he learned he'd been successful in making the top-eight cut, Reese said he was already thinking about his match against Ashley. But then Reese spoke of beating Kevin VanDam by 8 ounces for the last seat in the finals.
VanDam finished ninth place and was first man out, eliminated along with Jeff Kriet, Steve Kennedy and Davy Hite.
"There's satisfaction in knowing I beat Kevin out of this thing," Reese said, grinning. "I don't care what happens the rest of the week - I got Kevin, I took him out."
VanDam has been Reese's longtime postseason nemesis, particularly in 2010 when VanDam fished past Reese to take the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
On stage, VanDam, winner of the past two postseason events and a seven-time Angler of the Year, said he was disappointed to miss the second half of All-Star Week.
"I really wanted to be there," he said. "I jumped off a good one today that probably will haunt me."
Offstage, VanDam and Reese shook hands and slapped each other on the back.
Besides Ashley and Reese, inside the cutline was 2010 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Ott DeFoe of Tennessee. Like Ashley, DeFoe worked the backs of the lake's creeks, where cooler water from streams keeps water temperatures down, a summertime draw for bass.
"It's kind of a lot to take in," DeFoe told the crowd from the stage. "It's been an incredible week already."
DeFoe and New Jersey's Michael Iaconelli will face each other Friday on the Alabama River.
"We're both passionate fishermen, we're going to have fun," Iaconelli said.
Alabama's Aaron Martens is matched with Edwin Evers of Oklahoma, while Terry Scroggins of Florida and Alabama's Gerald Swindle will face off against each other.
All matches were determined by seeding each angler according to their finishes on Jordan. First will be up against eighth, second against seventh, third against sixth, and fourth against third.
Scroggins and Swindle happen to be travel buddies and roommates, and they operate on an agreement to share fishing information with each other.
"We've been sharing information all year long," said Scroggins, as he and Swindle jested on stage about how they'd handle the sticky situation. "He's from Alabama, so I hope he shares now."
Swindle said nothing will change.
"We'll give each other all we've got," he said. "If he beats me, I just hope he wins the whole thing."