Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. has stayed very consistent over the first two days of the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. For many of the other anglers, the overall fishing dropped off on day two, helping him to charge from 14th place to 8th place going into Championship Sunday. His day two limit weighing 15-pounds, 5-ounces gives him a total weight so far of 30-11, just over six pounds out of the lead.
Ashley seemed happy with his standings at the conclusion of the weigh-in, and even though he hasn’t gotten on what he views as a consistent pattern, he said staying in contention is good enough right now, because he’s expecting Lake Hartwell’s bass to really turn on any day now. He’s hoping that happens tomorrow.
“Once I figure out what the fish are doing from one day to the next, I can get on some good fish, but right now they are just in between. They’re not really doing what I want them to do, and they’re definitely not wanting to bite what I want them to bite. But I really saw some stuff today that I liked the looks of, so tomorrow might be the day,” he said.
Ashley won this event in 2015, the last time it was held at Hartwell, and it will be no surprise if he makes a big move tomorrow to cut the 7-pound deficit before the final weigh in of the Classic.
Another South Carolina angler, Wagener’s Jason Williamson, whose day one bag weighed exactly the same as Ashley’s limit today, dropped from 14th to 24th place after bringing five fish weighing 10-3 in today. But Williamson ensured he’ll fish tomorrow, as only the top 25 anglers move on to fish Championship Sunday.
It’s a tall order — Williamson’s two-day total weight of 25-8 has him close to 12 pounds out of the lead, but if these bass finally turn on the way anglers are anticipating them to do any day now, netting his first Classic victory is certainly not out of the question.
“Yesterday, I thought the fish would really be doing what I want them to do today, but it just didn’t happen. So tomorrow, I’m fishing with a big stick in my hand, a Buckeye Mop jig on my line, and if I catch five, I may move up the leaderboard a little bit,” he said.
One positive note for Williamson — he’s said all week that he isn’t getting a lot bites, but that he’s getting the right bites, and if that happens tomorrow, he could shock the rest of the field, which wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in a Bassmaster Classic.
Hank Cherry of Maiden, North Carolina swung for the fences on day two, but came up short. His five-fish limit weighing 11 pounds landed him in 33rd place, missing the 25-angler cut to fish on day three.
Jason Christie of Park Hill, Oklahoma, who was leading after the first day, maintained that position after day two. He brought 16-6 to the scales today, making his two-day total 37-4. Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma stayed in second place, catching 13 pounds today, pushing his total to 32-9.
Micah Frazier of Newnan, Georgia moved into the third spot with 32-2. He’s followed by James Elam of Tulsa in fourth place, giving the Sooner State three anglers in the top five. Guntersville, Alabama’s Gerald Swindle is in fifth place with 31-4.
One of the biggest surprises on day one was that Skeet Reese of Auburn, California did not bring a single fish to the scales. He rebounded today, hauling five keepers and a big smile to today’s weigh-in. His 11-5 bag didn’t move him out of 52nd place, but he said it did a lot for his pride after day one’s flop.