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Casey Ashley wins hometown Classic with dad's homemade baits

On Sunday evening at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Casey Ashley completed a journey that began more than three decades ago and seemed to drag on forever these past few weeks. The 31-year-old South Carolina native, who has lived just a few miles from Lake Hartwell all his life, caught five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces to cap a moving victory in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on his home waters with a three-day total of 50-1. The weight was enough to help Ashley past Florida pro Bobby Lane, Jr., who finished second with 46-15, and Texas angler Takahiro Omori who placed third with 44-3. The end of the weigh-in meant Ashley could finally take a deep breath after seven weeks when the lake was mostly off-limits due to B.A.S.S. rules and when virtually everyone he saw wanted to talk about him being the favorite to win. “I worked a show in Greenville at the TD Convention Center (in mid-January), and I bet I thought about the Classic 50,000 times while I was standing there,” said Ashley, who won the event on his sixth try. “My first Classic was here (in 2008), and ever since then I’ve been saying I’d like to have that one back. “I wanted to win so bad here at home, and I had a long time to think about it. It was pretty rough.”
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Expo: Day 3 photos

Expo: Day 3 photos
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Evers, Mustad join forces

When Edwin Evers hits the water in the Bassmaster Elite Series this year he will be fishing as a member of Team Mustad. Heading into his 16th professional season, Evers is one of the most successful and popular anglers in Bassmaster Elite Series and will compete in his 14th Bassmaster Classic this week. “We are extremely excited to have Edwin join our team," said Mustad sales manager Steve Tagami. “He has built a great career and following with a record of accomplishment that speaks for itself. His personal reputation is top notch, and there is a tremendous amount of mutual respect and appreciation between Edwin and his fan base. He loves to educate and it really shows in the quality of his seminars, articles, and videos. Edwin just gets it done.”
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Opening Day Countdown' TV series premieres Monday on Outdoor Channel

You can fish every day of the year, right? Unlike many outdoor pursuits, fishing doesn’t have a set season for many of us. “But we all know when it’s time to go fishing,’’ said Mark Zona, host of The Bassmasters television show and Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show. “For most of my adult life, at the end of the (Bass Pro Shops) Spring Classic, I knew it was time to be on the water somewhere.” That is the case for many fishing fans. That’s why Bass Pro Shops, Bassmaster and Outdoor Channel are unofficially, officially declaring this week the countdown to the opening day of fishing season. That declaration comes with an unprecedented amount of fanfare. The most impressive of that fanfare is Opening Day Countdown, a series of seven television shows that will air nightly, beginning Monday night (11:30 p.m. EST), on Outdoor Channel. Hosted by Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona of The Bassmasters television show and Kevin VanDam, 4-time Bassmaster Classic Champion, the show will air a new episode every night this week through Sunday, flowing seamlessly into Bassmaster Classic week.
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Five Spot: Edwin Evers

If you think Edwin Evers fished his first tournament out of a top-of-the-line bass boat, you’d be mistaken. His first rod and reel wasn’t exactly the latest in technology either.

4 facts you need to know about the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic

The basicsFishery: Lake Hartwell, South CarolinaCompetition dates: Feb. 20, 21 and 22Takeoff location: Green Pond Landing                           Anderson, S.C. Takeoff time: 7 a.m. ET First flight check-in: 3 p.m. ET Weigh-ins and Outdoors ExpoWeigh-in and Outdoors Expo host: Greenville, S.C.Weigh-in location: Bon Secours Wellness ArenaWeigh-in time: Doors open to the public at 3:15 p.m. ETBassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo location: TD Convention CenterExpo hours: Friday, Feb. 20: 10:30 a.m. to noon (media, Life Members & B.A.S.S. Nation)                                             Noon to 8 p.m. (general public)                    Saturday, Feb. 21: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.                    Sunday, Feb. 22: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Practice informationPractice period: Feb. 13-15, 2015Classic practice restrictions: Classic waters are open to 2015 Classic contestants for three days, beginning at safe light and ending at dusk, Friday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. No boats are allowed on Lake Hartwell at night.Classic waters off limits: As of 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 1, 2015, contestants cannot be on the water or get information about the fishery.Classic format

Who is the odds-on favorite to win the Classic?

Edwin Evers - 16:1
If you're working on a list of the best anglers who have never won a major title (AOY or a Classic), Evers has to rank near the top. That will change one of these days and maybe at Hartwell in 2015. He nearly pulled it off last year at Guntersville, where he led after two days and finished third, and he has three runner up finishes in AOY. At 40 years old, he's in his fishing prime. Evers ranked 11th at Hartwell in 2008 and has a track record of improving with experience at most venues. He's versatile enough that he's among the favorites at any stop on the tour. When some anglers do well in a tournament, you can pretty easily guess what they were doing. Evers is so versatile, you have no idea. He's the only angler in B.A.S.S. history to win tournaments with all largemouths, all smallmouths and all spotted bass.

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Edwin Evers' 5 favorite fall lures

The water has cooled off, and bass are feeding heavily in the shallows of your favorite fishery. During the fall, just about any lure in your tacklebox will catch these active bass, but there are certain baitfish imitators that produce best, so we asked Bassmaster Elite Series pro Edwin Evers to pick his five favorite lures for tricking bass this time of year.

The Oklahoma pro's top choice for fall fishing is a Megabass Knuckle 60 crankbait in black-back-chartreuse, sexy french pearl, or gill. "It's a lot of fun to fish," says Evers. "It creates vicious strikes when the fish get up shallow on logs and stumps.

"I can cover a lot of water with it and catch big ones on it." While fishing a stump in a recent tournament, Evers was reminded why the square-bill crankbait is his favorite lure in the fall.

"A little one missed it, and as it was coming over the other side of the stump, about a 3 1/4-pounder caught it," he recalls. "I fought the fish all the way around the boat, and it was stripping drag trying to get back up to that stump.

"I was babying it because I could see it just had the back hook in the top of its mouth. So it got back up to the stump and stopped, and I thought it was hooked on the stump. But a 4-pounder got the front hook, and I reeled both of them in."

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The BIG BASS of November with PAA champ Edwin Evers

“In the field, the deer are moving in November and the bass are moving just as much. They’re feeding up shallow and it’s amazing how good bass fishing can really be this month,” asserts Bassmaster Elite and PAA champ Edwin Evers. Indeed November is a month when fishing can be really, really good in Edwin’s home state Oklahoma and across the region.

The Time of Movement

Fall is the time of movement. Everybody’s out in the deer woods chasing big bucks that are chasing pert does. In the bass world, bass are really moving too, only they’re chasing shad. A lot of those shad are really shallow; they’re in the backs of pockets, in the backs of creeks, and they’re right up on shallow main lake banks as well.

The Main Lake Alternative

A lot of anglers are used to hearing about the shad and bass running into the backs of the creeks in fall. Well, shallow banks out on the main lake can be every bit as good as the backs of creeks in fall. Evers notes, “Not all fish go to the backs of the creeks. Many of the fish that live in those creeks will do that, but other fish that live on the main lake, they just pull up onto shallower main lake stuff in fall. Take the ends of bluff banks for example; those will often taper out to a pea gravel point, and you can find a lot of fish there in fall. Overall, the key to good main lake hotspots will be that bass won’t have to travel very far to that bluff and its deep water sanctuary in the winter time when conditions are not conducive to feeding; and in the summer and fall, whenever the time’s right, they’ll be up there really feeding shallow on those pea gravel points.”

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Classic qualification made easy ... sort of

With the completion of the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, 48 of the 56 Bassmaster Classic berths for Lake Hartwell, Feb. 20-22, 2015, are in the books. Remaining are one spot from the final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Allstate (to be decided on Oct. 4), six spots from the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (Nov. 8) and one spot from the Bassmaster Team Series (Dec. 13).Classic qualifiers come from seven sources.Defending Champion(s)Randy Howell Cliff PaceOrdinarily, only one defending Classic champ has a berth in the Classic, and it would be Randy Howell, who won earlier this year. The 2013 champ, Cliff Pace, however, was unable to defend his title after suffering a hunting injury that forced him to sit out the Elite Series season. As a result, he'll be back in the Classic in 2015. What's more, Pace finished second to Alton Jones at the 2008 Classic on Hartwell, so he'll certainly be one of the pre-tournament favorites.Elite WinnersBrett Hite Chris Lane Mike McClelland Jacob Powroznik Jason Christie Jacob Wheeler Michael Iaconelli Greg HackneyWheeler isn't fishing the Elite Series, but he won BASSfest on Chickamauga Lake and fished the full season of Northern Opens to earn his spot.Top-Ranking Anglers in the AOY StandingsThe top 29 anglers in the AOY race all earn a berth in the Classic. You've seen some of these names already above.Greg Hackney Todd Faircloth Jacob Powroznik Aaron Martens Mark Davis Keith Combs Skeet Reese Jared Lintner Dean Rojas Casey Ashley Justin Lucas Chris Lane Randall Tharp Gerald Swindle Jason Christie Matt Herren Brandon Palaniuk Chad Morgenthaler John Crews David Walker Scott Rook Edwin Evers Paul Elias Cliff Crochet Michael Iaconelli Mike McClelland James Niggemeyer Brandon Lester Randy Howell

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