Tuned to one specific spot

Beyond the fact that Casey Ashley recorded an album in Nashville, and has entertained fans on stage with his voice and guitar at the Bassmaster Classic, the South Carolina pro has a soul that craves a daily dose of lyrics and notes.

Each morning drive to the boat ramp in Ashley’s Toyota Tundra is saturated by country music. Today it was the sound of one of his all-time favorite artists, Kenny Chesney, and the 2005 album “Be As You Are.”

“I got to have music every mornin’. Ain’t no static comin’ from my speakers. I got to be singin’ along to sumthin’,” grins the soft-spoken Ashley, who sits solidly in fourth place after two days of hot and grinding competition at the Bassmaster Elite Series event on gigantic Toledo Bend Reservoir.

The 12th track on the Chesney CD is “Soul of a Sailor,” which includes this lyric: “Let my heart take me where it wants to go.” Likewise, much the reason Ashley sits so high in the standings is because he let his marine electronics take him to a somewhat magical spot no bigger than his bass boat amid T-Bend’s massive 185,000 surface acres.

“I practiced hard and spent a ton of time just riding the contour lines on my Navionics chip,” said Ashley. “I’m not a very good deep-water angler, but when I got over the spot that’s produced most of my weight, that screen looked a swordfight was taking place under the water,” explained Ashley in reference to the way the sonar returns appeared on his screen.

So far, the tiny spot that’s more like a needle in a hayfield than a haystack, has yielded 39 pounds of largemouth. Ashley is positioning his Triton in 30 feet of water and casting a 3/4-ounce football jig on a Quantum EXO rod and reel into 18 feet of water where all his keepers are holding on the somewhat magical underwater ledge.

Certainly, Chesney’s tropical tunes are applicable to 90-degree heat, soupy humidity and 86-degree water temperatures at Toledo Bend, and that’s why veteran pro Shaw Grigsby is toting 20 extra pounds of ice in a soft-sided camouflage cooler that will ride on the floor between him and his B.A.S.S. Marshal today.

“When you’re pulling fish from deep water and placing them in a livewell full of warm water, you really need to carry extra ice and add it to your livewell throughout the day just to make sure they don’t die,” explained Grigsby, who very much like Ashley, has caught all of his keepers on a 3/4-ounce football jig from a very isolated spot on Toledo Bend’s lake bottom.

“It’s totally about finding a specific spot this week,” said Grigsby. “You could spend three days practicing and never find a spot like the one I was fortunate to find. And if you didn’t locate one, you were gonna struggle big-time this week. But if you find ’em, you can sit there and catch ’em nearly all day,” he explained.

Fortunately for Ashley and Grigsby, each of the likable pros has tuned in to to one of those magical underwater spots, and it’s kept them near the top of the charts on a very temperamental Toledo Bend.

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