Classic: Local insight on Lake Hartwell

"L" IS FOR ...

Visit the Roman numeral chart and you’ll find the symbol for 50 is “L.” Lots of likable language we could toss around for the half century anniversary of B.A.S.S., but we thought we’d leverage the alliteration to highlight several key elements of the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell.

Leaping right in, let’s look at this list.

Last time: Suffice it to say that 2015 saw local fave Casey Ashley win on a different Hartwell. The late-February event — one of the coldest Classics on record — saw a mostly deep, offshore event yield the winning weight to Ashley’s underspin.

A good showing, but it’s going to be a different scene this time around. For one thing, we’ll arrive about a month later; a fact that could dramatically vary the Classic’s weather patterns. While March could still see some mighty cold weather, it may also gift competitors with a prespawn-prompting warmup.

“We’re in that time of year when it could be snowing, or it could be 70 degrees after being in the 60s the previous five days and the fish are headed to the bank,” said Classic qualifier Jason Williamson, who lives about two hours from Hartwell in Wagener, S.C.

Ask Ashley his preference and he won’t hesitate to say he’d gladly take another round of bundling up and picking away at well-hidden offshore fish. Is that his prediction? Probably not.

“When fish are deep and it’s really cold, it’s hard for other competitors to find them, so that played into my hands (in 2015),” Ashley said. “This year, I expect the fish to be shallower. When they get shallow, these guys are so good, they’re going to find them, and it becomes a slugfest at that point.”

Beyond the meteorological outlook, another significant variable leads us to our second point.