Casey hits a homer

 "Fisherman" is now available at as a download or autographed CD. You'll also be able to hear a 30-second clip of the song for free.

 GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bassmaster Classic contender Casey Ashley has entered only one talent contest. And he has no plans to compete in another one.

 "The first time I ever sang in public was in high school," said the 24-year-old Donalds, S.C., native. "I finished second to two guys swinging some nunchucks.

 "I never did enter another talent show in my life."

 But Ashley "won" a talent show of sorts two weeks ago. He was invited to Nashville to record a single, "Fisherman," written by Rodney Clawson. Ashley impressed both Clawson, who has written hits for several music stars, and Richard Prather, a senior partner in the Dalia Entertainment Group.

 "Casey can really sing," Prather said. "He's got enough talent that we're going to get him signed under a management contract. He's got amazing potential.

 "Casey's got 'marry-my-daughter' written all over him. He's got the looks. He's a good kid. He can have as good a career in this business as he wants to have."

 But, at least for now, that's the problem. Ashley would rather bass fish for a living than pursue a musical career. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year race last season on the Elite Series tour in qualifying for the Classic.

 "That's too much traveling for me," said Ashley of the music business.

 Janet Bell, director of athlete relations for BASS, created this opportunity for Ashley. Through previous work, she knew Prather. And after word got out Ashley could sing, Bell asked him to perform the national anthem at several Elite Series takeoffs and weigh-ins last year.

 Prather knew Bell well enough to respect her opinion. But he's seen several "big fish from small ponds" fail when they get to the "big pond" of Nashville.

 "Most of the time, we take those recommendations with a grain of salt," Prather said. "In the Nashville area, there's some of the best talent in the world. Many times someone gets here and they can't really hang."

 Ashley proved he could hang, even with the pressure of an ESPN camera crew documenting his recording session. He was in the studio only two hours. And after five or six takes, Prather was satisfied he had what he needed for the single.

 "There are people that have got record deals who can't sing as well as Casey," Prather said. "I just worked with a guy who took a week before he was good enough to sing in the studio."

 Clawson, in particular, was impressed with Ashley. Ashley stayed with Clawson when he was in Nashville. Clawson grew up in a small town in Texas — Gruver, located about 90 miles north of Amarillo. He and Ashley, a small town guy as well, have a lot in common, even though Clawson is 18 years older.

 "Especially with that ESPN camera crew there, I thought we might have a couple of false starts," Clawson said. "But Casey stepped up and hit it out of the park the first time out."

 Clawson knows something about hitting homers. One of his songs, "I Saw God Today," recorded by George Straight, is probably headed to No. 1 on the country chart now. Some of his other successes include "Lost in This Moment" for Big and Rich, "Why," "Amarillo Sky" and "Johnny Cash" for Jason Aldean, "Sunshine and Summertime" for Faith Hill and "Sweet Southern Comfort" for Buddy Jewell.

 On his MySpace website, Clawson states that when he's not writing, "I'm either bass fishing on Old Hickory Lake or harvesting whitetail deer and pheasants back in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle."

 He's good at what he does, and he's a cool guy too," Ashley said of Clawson. "I think he told me he writes a hundred-and-something songs a year. I asked him how you get up in the morning and say you're going to write a song. He said, 'It's just like you going fishing. You get used to it.'"

 Clawson and Prather were on their way from Nashville to Greenville for the Bassmaster Classic on Friday. They plan on visiting with their newly discovered talent, Ashley, and helping promote the "Fisherman" single. While they're here, they might do a little more nudging on Ashley to pursue a music career. He's definitely a natural.

 "I guess I've been singing since I could talk," Ashley said. "I always sang to the radio.

 Nobody else in my family can sing. Not a soul."

 But Ashley sure can. Click on the link and find out for yourself.

 "Fisherman" is now available at as a download or autographed CD. You'll also be able to hear a 30-second clip of the song for free.

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