By Al McGuckin
Casey Ashley has been saying for years that he doesn’t like smallmouth.
But given the fact the 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ sits soundly inside the Top 5 of a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race that’s tighter than the dry storage lids of his Triton, well, it’s fair to say, the soft spoken South Carolina pro is learning to live with the infamously ghost like bronze bombers that have dominated the summer portion of the Elite Series schedule.
Fact is, he’s more than just tolerating smallmouth, he’s figuring them out – mostly by taking his own approach with a plan that involves a lot of treble hooks, fairly shallow water, and perhaps most importantly – a mindset of finally accepting the fact that smallmouth are not largemouth.
By Al McGuckin
Lake St. Clair is one of America’s all-time greatest smallmouth fisheries. But when the Bassmaster Elite Series visited the Detroit area fishery in 2013, Greg Hackney chose to fish for largemouth based on the fact smallmouth looked more like retired Pistons point guard Isaiah Thomas than current Lions left tackle Greg Robinson.
“I don’t know what the deal was on St. Clair four years ago, but the smallmouth looked sickly, like they were starving. You’d catch a fish that should have weighed 4-pounds and he’d only weigh 3-pounds,” remembers Hackney.
“After a couple days of practice, I finally stumbled into some healthy largemouth and decided I had a better chance to do well catching those than skinny smallmouth, so I pitched a Strike King Menace around on a ¾ ounce Texas rig and caught enough largemouth to finish 18th,” he recalls.