Casey Ashley took top honors the last time the Bassmaster Classic was held at Lake Hartwell, but the Donalds angler fell a little bit short this time around, finishing in eighth place with a total three-day weight of 42-pounds, 12-ounces.
Ashley, who loves fishing on Lake Hartwell, said the lake and weather conditions couldn’t have been more opposite of what he was hoping for during the three day event.
“Everything went exactly wrong for what I wanted in this tournament. I wanted the lake to stay low, I wanted it to stay cold, so it was the total opposite, and when you turn 52 of the world’s best bass anglers loose on this lake in those conditions, they’re going to catch them,” he said.
“I was catching all my fish shallow on docks with my signature Greenfish shakey-head that just came out in 1/8-ounce with a Zoom trick worm in pumpkin, and also in watermelon candy,” said Ashley.
Overall, despite having the conditions he wasn’t looking for, Ashley was thankful and pleased to get a top ten finish.
“You know, win or lose, anytime I get the chance to fish right here, and come into this coliseum and hear this crowd roar, that’s something special and I appreciate it,” he said.
“One thing’s for sure, it might be an old saying, but it’s true — there’s no place like home,” said Ashley as he waved to the packed crowd in Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Wagener’s Jason Williamson also enjoyed the hometown crowd. He clawed his way into day three of the Classic, went all out after the big bite, but fell short, bringing only three fish weighing 3-8 to the scales today, giving him a three-day total weight of 29 pounds. Those three fish were the only bites he got on the day.
Williamson finished in 25th place, and despite the small bag today, he’s confident he did the right thing by going all out after the big ones on the final day.
“This has been an amazing week, and truly a dream come true for me. When you come into day three as far behind as I was, your only chance is to fish for the really big ones, and that’s what I did.
“I left it all on the lake today, I really swung for the fence and obviously struck out, but I knew I had a lot of ground to make up, so I put a Buckeye Mop Jig on my rod and got three bites. It’s been a fun week, and I want to thank my family, all my sponsors, and everyone for coming out and supporting us,” said Williamson.
Jordan Lee of Grant, Alabama took this year’s Classic title, his second consecutive Bassmaster Classic championship, weighing in 15 fish over the three-day event that weighed 47-1 after bringing 16-5 to the scales on the final day.
Brent Ehrler of Newport Beach, California took the runner-up spot, finishing with a total weight of 46-1. Jason Christie finished third with a three-day total of 45-15 after two strong days of fishing, followed by a tough third day, bringing in only four fish weighing 8-11.
Matt Lee, Jordan’s brother, finished fourth after a strong outing on the final day, weighing in 17-6, the biggest bag of the day, pushing his three-day total to 43-15. North Prince George, Virginia’s Jacob Powroznik took fifth place with a three-day total weight of 43-4.
With the Classic now over, the Bassmaster Elite Series travels next to the Sabine River in Orange, Texas April 6-9.