Elite returns to 'Classic' state

Marking the first trip to the Palmetto State since the enormously successful and exciting 2008 Bassmaster Classic, South Carolina is the destination for the Bassmaster Elite Series' Carolina Clash presented by Evan Williams Bourbon, set for May 15-18 on Lake Murray out of Columbia, S.C.

As always, fishing fans can watch the on-the-water action from the May 15-18 Carolina Clash on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, May 24, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Created in the 1930s, Lake Murray is a top fishing destination in the Southeastern U.S and has been the site of 10 previous BASS events. It has never hosted a Bassmaster Elite Series event.

Elite pro Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., has fished Lake Murray many times, and he said next week's event will bring some big fish.

"It's going to be a topwater slugfest," Ashley said. "The herring will be running. It'll be a lot like Clarks Hill, it'll be postspawn and the fish will be up in the flats. A lot of topwater action ... that's all you can do. Maybe throw in a jig now and then."

Last week, Ashley finished fifth in the Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon. Since he thinks Murray will fish similarly to Clarks Hill, the South Carolinian hopes the upcoming event in his home state will deliver a second straight top-five finish, and maybe victory.

"I sure hope so," Ashley said.

He'll have some serious competition for the win from fellow South Carolina native Davy Hite, the 1999 Bassmaster Classic winner and a seven-time BASS event winner who also enjoyed a top-five finish at Clarks Hill.

"I lived on that lake for 30 years," Hite said of Lake Murray. "It's a great lake, a beautiful place. There'll be an awful lot of fish caught. I can promise you I'll go there trying to win. Other than winning the Classic, winning an Elite tournament on Lake Murray would probably be my No. 1 goal for a tournament to win. It's got a very, very special place in my heart."

Daily weigh-ins and launches will take place at the Lake Murray Marina & Yacht Club, 1600 Marina Rd., Irmo, S.C. Launches begin at 6:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday and weigh-ins begin at 3 p.m.

Fans can meet the Elite Series pros at Angler Alley presented by OPTIMA Batteries from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, at the Lexington Municipal Center, 111 Maiden Lane, Lexington, S.C.

Activities at the Carolina Clash include live musical performances at 12:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday by Black Bottom Biscuits, and Cherry Dillinger. There will be a Berkley Beginner fishing class at 2 p.m. and a "Boat Performance with Skeeter" class daily at 2:15 p.m. both days.