Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Rick Orellana
Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Rick Orellana
The lack of current is starting to take its toll. Without it Ashley is considering pulling up stakes and hitting the bank to look for largemouth.
The last two days the wind has blown out of the south, which has basically poured the water out of Lake Ontario and down the St. Lawrence.
Today the wind is blowing Northeast, which is blowing upriver and basically stopping the river from any substantial flow.
Obviously that will change up some things. The fish aren't positioning in the same places and are more than likely more scattered.
According to the weather, there won't be much change in wind direction either. There will be some variation of NE or ENE for the remainder of this event.
That change will likely force some big gambles and changes from these anglers, creating some potentially exciting story lines.
Casey Ashley loves to throw a topwater bait. And he likes to catch bass on a jerkbait too. But Ashley doesn't want to have anything to do with mixing these hard-fighting, acrobatic smallmouth bass and treble hooks. He had a brief reminder of that yesterday.
"I know I could catch 'em on a jerkbait, but I don't want to hang one on it," he said. "I'm serious. It had gotten to the point today where I couldn't catch 'em on anything else. I threw across a point, jerking a jerkbait, and hung a good one. It was almost a four. He jumped up and spit it out. I put (the jerkbait) down. I don't even want to see him if I'm going to lose him. I don't want to catch any of these big jokers on treble hooks."
Based on the Day 2 standings, the 33-year-old Donalds, S.C. angler is leading the Angler of the Year points race. Ashley, however, is most concerned about qualifying for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic at South Carolina's Lake Hartwell, where he won in 2015.
"All I'm worried about is points for the Classic," Ashley said. "If those points rack up to be AOY, that'll be fine too."
Casey Ashley has filled his limit. They aren't the St. Lawrence River smallmouth we are accustomed to seeing. But he has a limit.
The last two came on three consecutive casts: Two keepers and one lost.
All of them appear to be in the 2-pound range, which should get him in the double digits with somewhere between 11 and 12 pounds. That won't likely be enough to carry him into tomorrow but there's a lot of day left. Not to mention it seems the fishing is not nearly what it was the last two days. But that could change quickly.
On Bernie Schultz’s B.A.S.S. resume are 25 events fished in New York between today and 1986. Schultz has 9 finishes inside the Top 20, and his best New York finish came here. That was a 6th-place finish in 2013.
Schultz, like the marketing phrase used here for decades, loves New York.
“Versatility is the reason. These fish keep you thinking and I like to be challenged. When you figure them out it just makes them that much more fun to catch.”
Schultz told me that yesterday as I interviewed him for a sidebar story.
He also told me about his intent to fish new water. Leaving behind the fish that got him here could be a gamble. Maybe not. He was concerned about anglers fishing an upcoming FLW Costa Series converging on his water, setting GPS waypoints. Local pressure was another concern.
Schultz can take comfort in the fact that he is sight fishing for his fish. That is an angling skill of the Florida pro and another reason why he so likes New York.
The Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race has a normal magic number of 37 for Elite Series anglers qualifying for bass fishing’s world championship. That has unofficially bumped down to 39.
The reasons are Brandon Palaniuk, who is double qualified for being second in the AOY standings. He also received an automatic berth for winning Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefitting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The other is Jordan Lee, the defending champion also in 16th place.
Michael Iaconelli is on the bubble, but the final turn going into the home stretch most certainly falls inside his wheelhouse of skill sets. Ironically, what saved him was a much needed big lift was finishing 10th at Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.
The big surprise on the current AOY list is Ott DeFoe, who held the lead until this event. DeFoe is now 80 points behind new leader Casey Ashley.
We now have what is shaping up to be an exciting, challenging, in-the-trenches fight for the AOY trophy. Brandon Palaniuk is only 1 point behind and he’s fishing strong this season. Behind him, and only 15 points behind is Kevin VanDam.
Ashley's third keeper just bit and this one was a little better, close to 3 pounds, and forcing him to hit the driver's seat to land it.
That should give him around 8 pounds and change, although BassTrakk is showing him a little lighter than that.
Still not the class of fish that Ashley wants or needs to stay at the top of the leaderboard.
Second cast and Brandon Palaniuk is on the board with a nice four-plus-pounder!
Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Rick Moore
Ashley has added his second keeper. Not sure of the size but it was small enough to boat flip. We guess 2-pounds plus, possibly a little heavier. But he's a long way from us in a shallow flat area and he's asked us to stay back.
Either way he has two in the well, probably nearing the 6-pound total mark.
In an event where the average fish weighed is over 3 pounds, those fish may not cut it, leaving us to wonder if the current, or lack of, is playing a part.