Realtree Fishing Scores with Top Bassmaster Classic Finishers

And More on Pro Anglers Casey Ashley and Jacob Wheeler

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Fan SupportFan SupportFan SupportFan SupportFan Support

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1 | Fan Support

At the recent Classic held in Greenville, S.C., thousands of fans attended the Classic Outdoor Expo, where Realtree Fishing displayed product in a dedicated booth. On Championship Sunday the Bon Secours Wellness Arena was packed to standing room only with 19,000 fans watching the final weigh-in. A total attendance of 143,323 was recorded at all of the events and activities, setting a Classic record since the first competition held in 1971.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

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2 | Casey Ashley, Day 1

Like the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl and any other pro event the bottom line is the competition. Here’s how the Classic game is played. A point race from the nine-event Bassmaster Elite Series qualifies the 52 anglers. Those top performers compete during set competition hours under strict rules. Being late is costly and so is returning with a dead bass. Be 15 minutes late and you lose the catch for that day. The rules allow the anglers to weigh their five best bass of the day, and those fish must measure at least 12 inches in length.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

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3 | The Competition

What drives the competition and makes it so fan worthy is watching to see how the various fishing styles of the anglers line up with the prevailing bite of the fish. Ashley entered the competition as an obvious favorite to win and he came close but with a fault.

“When I won in 2015 the fish were in winter patterns, the water was low and that eliminated a shoreline bite,” he said. “I was trying to force those conditions again this time and that didn’t work.”

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

 

 

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4 | Big Bass

When Ashley won [in 2015] the absence of shoreline casting targets like fallen trees, beds of aquatic grasses and other hiding places made the bass tougher to locate. The bite was tough, and so was the fishing, and that gave a clear advantage to Ashley, who knows the lake like his own backyard.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

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5 | This Year

This year was different. The lake was full, the bass were shallow, easier to find and that all leveled the playing field.

“I did try and fish history and go back to some of the areas where I caught ‘em in 2015,” Ashley admitted. “When you have 52 of the world’s best bass anglers you can’t second guess anything.”

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

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6 | Classic Week

During Classic week the largemouth bass were also on the move. Spawning season was near. Rising water temperatures pushed the bass from deeper to shallow water, where they spawn along the shoreline.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

 

 

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7 | Jacob Wheeler, Day 1

Wheeler, whose 15 bass weighed 42-12, swung for the fences right out of the gate. His game plan was targeting big bass all three of the competition days.

Ashley found his fish somewhere in between. Instead of wasting time running and gunning to intercept constantly moving fish, he set up along the most likely places where they would rest along the way. Those “rest areas” were boat docks.

Ashley caught 15 bass to finish with 42 pounds, 12 ounces. He used lures best suited for tempting bass from beneath and around the boat docks. His choices were a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce ball jig with 6.5-inch Zoom Trick Worm. He also used a 1/2-ounce Greenfish Tackle Skipping Jig.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

 

 

 

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8 | Game Plan

“My whole game plan was catching a limit and then trying to upgrade with bigger fish,” said Wheeler, also an avid whitetail hunter. “That was the only way to win a tournament like the Classic.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

 

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9 | Daily Score

Translated, that meant first catching a five-bass limit, then switching lures and tactics to find the bigger bass to add weight to Wheeler's daily score.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

 

 

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10 | Ashley and Wheeler

Wheeler succeeded by locating concentrations of bigger bass migrating along shoreline cover. He wisely kept things simple, choosing only two lures. Those were the Accent Jacob Wheeler “Game Changer” Buzzbait Large Blade was a choice. So was a 3/8-ounce bladed jig with 4.5-inch Lake Fork Magic Shad.

“For me and Casey it was a good tournament, and considering the competition it was a really good week,” added Wheeler.

(Mike Swain / Realtree Fishing photo)

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Take the 52 best bass fishermen in the sport. Put them on the same lake for three days to compete for the most prestigious title in the sport. There can only be one winner, and finishing close to that angler is an astonishing feat.

Winning the title twice is even more impressive, and that just happened at the 48th annual Bassmaster Classic, held on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. For the second consecutive year, Jordan Lee, a 26-year-old pro from Grant, Ala., came from behind to win the title. Lee earned a nice paycheck, too, with $300,000 going into his bank account after the three days of fishing.

Realtree Fishing also scored big with two of its pro anglers fishing inside the top 10. Jacob Wheeler, 27, of Harrison, Tenn., finished seventh and earned $21,500. Casey Ashley, 34, of Donalds, S.C., took eighth place on his home lake and earned $21,000. The finish was bittersweet for Ashley, who won the 2015 Classic held on Lake Hartwell.

The Classic is often referred to as the Daytona 500 and even the Super Bowl of bass fishing for many reasons. The Classic is more than just a competition. Fan activities go on all week. There is even a floating gallery of fans who follow their favorite anglers. Some anglers can have 30 or more boats in tow as they compete.

[Editor's note: Please click through our photo gallery to see and read more.]

 

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