BASS Reporter’s Notebook: Race to the Classic tightens up; On the longest road to the classic: Ashley’s first fish

Category: press release

 May 18th, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified May 18th, 2010 at 12:00 AM

BASS TO HELP ‘DRIVE’ CHARITY TOURNAMENT: BASS will sanction this year’s Ryan Newman Foundation charity bass tournament presented by Bass Pro Shops.

As the event’s sanctioning body, BASS will conduct registration, boat inspection and the weigh-in, including emcee duties.

“We are pleased to be involved with such a first-class event and appreciate our status as the sanctioning body,” said Tom Ricks, vice president and general manager, BASS.

Previous Ryan Newman Foundation tournaments have featured several Bassmaster Elite Series pros. One is five-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam, who even acted as the volunteer emcee for the 2007 tournament.

A Nitro boat rig donated by Bass Pro Shops will be the grand prize for the Dec. 11 event out of Blythe Landing on North Carolina’s Lake Norman.

“We are proud to be a part of this event to raise money for Ryan’s foundation and will ultimately benefit both conservation and youth,” said Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops.

Included in the day will be a big fish contest, raffles and a celebrity tournament with pro anglers, NASCAR drivers and country music stars.

Tournament proceeds will go to the Ryan Newman Foundation, which the NASCAR star and his wife founded to support the conservation of natural resources, among other causes.

“We are happy to have Bass Pro Shops and BASS on board for our tournament this year,” said Ryan Newman.  “They share the same conservation goals and values as Krissie and I do.  Preserving our environment and improving the future for our youth is something we are passionate about.  Knowing they have the same vision makes their involvement with our foundation event a good fit.”

The size of the team-format tournament is set at 350 boats. Registration information is available at www.ryannewmanfoundation.org.

RACE TO THE CLASSIC TIGHTENS UP: Some Bassmaster Southern Open pros are celebrating this week, some are picking up the pieces.

Chris Lane (Photo BASS)

As the second of three events of the Southern circuit, the May 13-15 Open on Alabama’s Smith Lake was pivotal in the points race, the system by which Bassmaster Classic berths will be awarded to the top two anglers.

The top 10 are separated by only 92 points. That makes for a race so tight, it will go to the wire, the Oct. 7-9 Open finale on Lake Seminole out of Bainbridge, Ga.

Chris Lane, Elite Series pro from Florida now living in Alabama, can attest to how one event out of three can bring an angler down. The season-opener winner and No. 1 in points going into Smith Lake, Lane dropped to 26th after finishing 116th at the Alabama event.

Taking over at the top was Smith Lake winner Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C. Holding firm at place No. 2 was Chris Lane’s brother and fellow Elite pro, Bobby Lane of Florida. He’s only four points behind Montgomery.

Keeping his place third in line was Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., only 12 points out of first. Tennessee’s Ott Defoe is 4th, and Elite pro Davy Hite of South Carolina is 5th.

Elite pro Gerald Swindle did not compete in the first Southern Open this year, so his 2nd place finish at Smith got him to only 40th place in points.

ON THE LONGEST ROAD TO THE CLASSIC: Eight more anglers have earned the right to keep traveling on the road to the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 18-20 out of New Orleans, La.

The eight qualified to be among the 55 competitors in the Oct. 27-29 Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha Marine and Skeeter Boats on the Red River out of Shreveport, La. From there, the top angler in each of six divisions will advance to the big show, the 2011 Classic.

Besides making it through a string of local and regional qualifiers, the eight had to beat every other angler competing from their state in the May 12-14 Bassmaster Federation Nation Central Divisional on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.

Claiming championship spots were overall Central Divisional tournament winner Zachery King of Arkansas; Travis Tunnell of Kansas; Jamie Laiche of Louisiana; Randy Ladner of Mississippi; Brian Maloney of Missouri; Kenny Wasmund of Nebraska; Dale Hightower of Oklahoma; and Texan Tom Jessop.

Seven other anglers qualified in early April through the Southern Divisional tournament on West Point Lake in Georgia. Advancing to the championship will be overall winner Brandon Card, from Tennessee but representing Kentucky; Jeff Green, South Carolina; Rob Digh, North Carolina; Tony Beck, Georgia; David Mock, Florida; George Crain, Alabama; and Donnie Cox, Tennessee.

Next up on the Bassmaster Federation Nation tournament schedule is this week’s Western Divisional on Martinez Lake out of Yuma, Ariz., May 19-21. Click here for results at Bassmaster.com.

ASHLEY’S FIRST FISH: With the Bassmaster Elite Series stopping this week at Clarks Hill Lake, Casey Ashley gets to fish his home water.

Casey Ashley (Photo BASS)

The 26-year-old Elite pro also gets to reminisce about early fishing adventures.

“It’s where I caught my first bass,” he said. “I was about 4, out with Mom and Dad crappie fishing. I had a little worm tied on and was casting it around and just caught a bass. It seemed like a 15-pounder back then, but it was probably like a 2-pounder.”

For the May 20-23 Elite event, Ashley said the huge reservoir that straddles the Georgia-South Carolina border will “fish tough.”

“It’s going to be about as tough a lake as anybody has seen,” said Ashley, who lives on the South Carolina side, in Donalds. “Local knowledge is not going to be a factor in this one.”

He based his evaluation on a recent look at a nearby lake with conditions similar to those on Clarks Hill. (The competition water has been off limits for about a month.) The topwater bite was gone, he said, and the bass are on deep brushpiles.

“And there’s just not that much of that on Clarks Hill,” he said.

The pros are practicing Monday through Wednesday for the Pride of Georgia on Clarks Hill Lake out of Evans, Ga. Competition kicks off Thursday.

Daily results, photos and from-the-water coverage via BASSCam, BASSCast and BASSTrakk will be available at Bassmaster.com throughout the competition, which ends Sunday. Live, streaming video of the weigh-ins is available at ESPN3.com.

MILLION-DOLLAR G-MAN: Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., has hit the million-dollar mark.

Nicknamed “G-Man,” Swindle surpassed $1 million in BASS tournament earnings at the May 9 conclusion of the Elite event on Lake Guntersville.



About BASS

For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing.  The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.


As the flagship offering of ESPN Outdoors, the Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, ESPNOutdoors.com and ESPN3.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.


BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.



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