Watch an exclusive interview with bass fishing pro Casey Ashley taped at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Glenn May, founder of BassResource.com, asked him some intriguing questions about tournament fishing you'll only see here!
Glenn: Hi I'm here with Casey Ashley at the Bassmaster Classic. Casey, glad to have you here with us today.
Casey Ashley: I appreciate you having me.
Glenn: Casey, can you tell us a little bit about how you started in the tournament bass fishing to get to where you are today?
Casey: I started as a kid. I started fishing team trails with my dad probably when I was 10 or 11 years old with just a team trail called Anglers Choice. And we did fairly well that year, we made it to the championship, though we didn't do to good. I actually remember it was on Lake Pickwick. It was the first time I'd been anywhere to fish for smallmouth. But since then I've always loved it ever since I was real little, I've always loved to fish. I've always knew that that's what I wanted to do. And it's kind of dream come true for me this year.
Glenn: Yeah that's got to be real exciting for sure. Can you help out maybe some of the guys who are maybe first starting out at tournament angling and figuring out what they want to do. What would be your advice for them?
Casey: Well, from a fishing standpoint, my advice would be you have to find something that you're good at as far as throwing a spinnerbait or a jig or something that you like to do that you feel confident that you can catch a fish anywhere with it. When you do that you'll go to tournaments and you'll here people talking, I call it dock talk. Just get all that out of head, do what you do, and being able to keep you mind focused through the whole day at the tournament and just do what you know how to do, don't listen to everybody else and what they're telling you.
Sometimes if you know you can trust that person then they can help you but you can't catch anybody else's fish. I can go out there and somebody can tell me that they were right there and their fish will be there, and sometimes you can't catch them. It's just the way people fish, everybody's different.
Glenn: Well I'm assuming also sponsors have an awful lot to do with that as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what your sponsors do for you and what you do for them in return?
Casey: Your sponsors, you can't do it without them. ChatterBait that's my boat rep. I actually work with him to build the ChatterBait when he got real busy when Bryan Thrift won that tournament down in Okeechobee. That's how that came about, but these sponsors carry you a long ways. They help you anyway they can. Financially, and they give you product, and in the off season it's time to give back and they take care of you while you're fishing and you have to work for them in the off season.
Glenn: So it's going to trade shows and doing seminars and appearances?
Casey: Trade shows, seminars, boat shows, just anything you can. Taking people fishing, just small stuff like that, helping out any way you can.
Glenn: So let's talk a little bit about when you're on the water. When you're preparing for a tournament and you're out there pre-fishing what exactly are you trying to accomplish and how do you go about doing that?
Casey: You're trying to put together some kind of pattern, and if you find one pretty quick, and you feel like you can run it, and keep catching fish, you start looking for another. It's always good to have at least two. I try to always get two patterns that way you've always got something to fall back on. Some days you'll go out and your first pattern it's producing but it's not producing the size. So you can go run the other one and catch a bigger fish doing that. So it's always good to have something in the back of your mind that you can fall back to.
Glenn: And once you're on the water during the tournament how do you decide whether to leave a spot or stay on it? Aren't you concerned about someone moving in on your spot, how do you make those decisions?
Casey: That's a hard decision to make. I've made bad ones many times. That's the ones you remember, anytime you make a mistake you'll always remember it because that's the hardest lesson learned, is failure. But you just learn, when to stay, when to leave, you can't really worry about somebody else getting on your fish, because the goes back to they can't catch them like you can. You've always got to have it in your head that he couldn't catch my fish if he was here anyway. You just block all that out an go do your thing.
Glenn: You think your ability to do that is maybe the difference between you being a pro-angler and a weekend warrior, or you think there's other factors that might be a part of that?
Casey: Well there's a lot of luck involved I don't care what anybody says. But being able to stick with what you know will carry you a long way. That's what's brought me here.
Glenn: Just sticking with what you know, that's what makes the difference.
Casey: If you get out there an you've got 25 rods laying on the deck and you try doing something for 30 minutes, do something else for 30 minutes you're never going to figure anything out. You've got to stick with something for at least an hour or two or three to really rule it out. And say, okay, this isn't working, we've got to try something else. And that's why you need at least two practice days before the tournament. Now you can practice too much. You can go out there and find all kinds of stuff like I was talking earlier and find out different patterns you may leave a patterns three days ago and it'll change on you too. You have to be careful how much you practice.
Glenn: So every year the tournament rules change a little bit. If you had the opportunity to change one tournament rule, what would that be?
Casey: Man I don't know. I really don't think about changing anything to be honest with you. I just go out there an fish, when they say go out there and go I go.
Glenn: Well, I want to give you a moment what I call a shameless plug moment. Give you an opportunity to say anything you want to your fans or to your sponsors or say anything you want that you want to promote. The floor is yours.
Casey: Yes, I would like to thank all my sponsors, Berkeley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Chatter Bait, Triton, Mercury of course, and I actually picked up some local deals, Ralph Haye's Toyota this year. They've helped me out on a truck, they're in Anderson South Carolina, and Skins Hot Dogs. I'd like to thank all of them, they mean the world to me, they help me out a lot. And to all my friends an family that's coming to the Classic, I know they're probably more nervous than I am. I just want to tell them I appreciate it. And I'm going to try to go out there and try to give them a hard time.
Glenn: Well, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. Good luck out there. Take it easy.