UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

First Time is the Charm for Ashley

First Time is the Charm for Ashley
Taylor Ashley

Lake Okeechobee has been the career launching pad for several young rookie pros through the years. Full-time pros like JT Kenney, Bryan Thrift and Drew Benton all took their first big career wins on the Big O before the fishing world had ever heard their names. Now you can add the name Taylor Ashley of Warrior, Ala., to that list.

At just 19 years old, Ashley won the Costa FLW Series Southeast Division opener presented by Power-Pole on Lake Okeechobee. It was the first FLW Series event Ashley had ever entered. It was the first time Ashley had ever been to Lake Okeechobee. And it ended with his first big career win.

Complete results

Top 10 baits 

Poitevint's winning co-angler pattern

Taylor Ashley

“Four days ago, there was no way in the world I would have said I could have won this tournament,” Ashley says. “There is nothing that can prepare you for coming to this lake for the first time. I studied Google Earth for hours, but it does you no good because everything changes so fast here – the grass, the water levels, nothing looks like you think it's going to look.”

Ashley’s first couple of days on the lake during practice were demoralizing.

“I got so lost on this place,” he admits. “I’ve never been that lost on the water before. It’s so big it’s just overwhelming. By the third day I had gotten so lost and had not caught any fish – I was seriously ready to quit.”

With one day left to practice, Ashley decided to stay close to Clewiston along the East Wall out of desperation. A friend had given him a waypoint in the area and told him he had caught some 2-pounders there years ago.

“I had nowhere left to go,” he says. “I had burned a bunch of gas and not found a thing to fish. My only choice was to sort of stay close so I wouldn’t get lost again and figure something out so maybe I could just scratch out a check.”

With nowhere left to turn, Ashley put his trolling motor down, picked up his favorite lure – a swim jig – and just started fishing for miles through vegetation fields near Clewiston.

Late in the day on that final day of practice, two big bites on his swim jig gave him all he needed: a place to just start the tournament.

And from there the rest is history. Each day Ashley learned more and more about his area, sacking up daily weights of 21-0, 25-6 and 22-6 to win with a three-day total of 68-12.

Taylor Ashley

The main focus of his winning pattern centered on a single boat lane amid a network of boat lanes through fields of scattered vegetation. The particular lane he favored terminated into the main lake, acting as a conduit for female bass moving into spawn.

“I could fish all out in those vegetation fields and catch bucks,” he says. “But whenever I got near that one particular lane – I’d get a big bite. All I can figure is those bigger females had to be using that one lane to travel in.”

With that in mind, Ashley began fishing a zigzag pattern, weaving back and forth across the big bass pipeline.

Taylor Ashley, Dean Harcourt

Ashley’s lures of choice were a pair of 3/8-ounce Dirty Jigs No-Jack Swim Jigs – one white and one green pumpkin. He trailered them with Zoom Super Speed Craws in matching colors and fished them on 65-pound test Power-Pro braid.

Having put in many hours of swim jigging along Alabama’s Coosa River, Ashley fished the swim jig “Alabama style,” constantly twitching and popping the rod tip as he reeled it across the scattered vegetation alongside the productive boat lane.

“I was working it just like I do back home,” he adds. “But instead of twitching it around bank grass, I twitched it around reeds and lily pads – it’s the first time I’ve ever fished down here so I just fished the best way I knew how to.”

And it appears the first time was certainly the charm for Ashley all week at Okeechobee.

 

Top 10 pros

1. Taylor Ashley – Warrior, Ala. – 68-12 (15) – $60,400

2. Joshua Weaver – Macon, Ga. – 61-2 (15) – $25,900

3. Derek Yasinski – Senoia, Ga. – 61-1 (15) – $17,000

4. Gary Milicevic – Labelle, Fla. – 57-12 (15) – $15,000

5. Scott Byrd – Ocklawaha, Fla. – 52-5 (15) – $14,000

6. Robert Beatty – Clermont, Fla. – 51-4 (15) – $10,500

7. Brian Holder – Denver, N.C. – 49-3 (15) – $9,300

8. Buddy Gross – Chickamauga, Ga. – 45-2 (15) – $8,000

9. Bill Tervin – Pocola, Okla. – 44-14 (15) – $7,000

10. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 44-1 (12) – $5,000

Complete results

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2017-01-26-lake-okeechobee 

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Florida cold fronts are supposed to shut the fishing down, but that wasn’t the case for many of the leaders through two days of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain. Rocketing into the lead from 35th place, Laramy Strickland popped a 31-pound, 6-ounce megabag to put his leading total at an even 46 pounds. In second, Jimmy Washam stayed steady, weighing 21-13 for second and a 41-13 total. In third, Hunter Freeman also made a big jump, hammering out 25-14 on day two to get up to 39-6. READ MORE »

Harris Chain Day 2 Coverage

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Day 2 at Harris Postponed

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Salewske Cracks 26 at Harris Chain

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Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bab Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain was a catchfest, but it wasn’t quite the sight-fishing showdown that some hoped for. In the lead, Rusty Salewske weighed 26 pounds, 10 ounces. Just ounces behind him, Miles Burghoff wrangled 26-8. In third, Jared McMillan put 22-1 on the scale to kick things off. READ MORE »

Harris Chain Day 1 Coverage

Harris Chain Day 1 Coverage

Anglers are enjoying near-perfect conditions for a day-one slugfest in Leesburg, Fla., for stop No. 2 of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes. Follow along for updates on all the action. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Harris Chain

FLW Live Leaderboard - Harris Chain

FLW Marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the second stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers at Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes. READ MORE »

Guyot Catches 23-8 for Murray Win

Guyot Catches 23-8 for Murray Win

Boater Scott Guyot of Fayetteville, North Carolina, brought five bass to the scale Saturday totaling 23 pounds, 8 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Murray in Prosperity, South Carolina. For his victory, Guyot earned a total of $4,359. READ MORE »

Flack Goes Finesse on Lewis Smith

Flack Goes Finesse on Lewis Smith

Local boater Jackie Flack of Cullman, Alabama, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lewis Smith Lake in Cullman. For his victory, Flack earned a total of $6,011. READ MORE »

Fitzgerald Finishes Strong at St. Johns

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St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 3

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Day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River brought more fish, bigger fish and eight bags over 20 pounds – a marked improvement over what we saw on day one. Day three could go either direction, though, as a small cold front overnight left behind bluebird skies and abundant sunshine today. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 2

It’s been a question of when, not if: When is the first big wave of spawners going to move up on the St. Johns River? That question may have been answered on day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, as more and more anglers brought big fish across the weigh-in stage, with many of the bass coming from beds or shallow cover where fish are staging to make their big move. READ MORE »

Big Day Puts Blair Ahead at St. Johns

Big Day Puts Blair Ahead at St. Johns

Jason Blair caught 22 pounds, 3 ounces – the biggest limit of the tournament so far – to take over the lead at the Toyota Series Southern Division season opener on the St. Johns River. The West Palm Beach, Fla., pro has a two-day total of 39-15 and a 1-pound, 11-ounce lead over yesterday’s leader, Trevor Fitzgerald. READ MORE »

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 2

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After a warm but windy day to start the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River, day two brought lower temperatures, rain and a shifting wind that blew right up the chute early this morning. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1

The St. Johns River is fishing tough, and while weights were down across the board on day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, the top five found a way to get the job done with some impressive stringers of big Florida bass. READ MORE »

Fitzgerald in Front on St. Johns

Fitzgerald in Front on St. Johns

Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., took the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener at the St. Johns River with a five-bass limit that weighed 21 pounds, 2 ounces. Fitzgerald has previously won a Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the St. Johns and is in contention to make his 12th top-10 finish with FLW. READ MORE »

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 1

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 1

As expected, the St. Johns River is still fishing pretty tough in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, which kicked off this morning. The St. Johns holds plenty of good fish, but she’s not all that willing to give them up. READ MORE »

Littich Nets Big O Title

Littich Nets Big O Title

Boater Thomas Littich of Cape Coral, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 23 pounds, 14 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Florida. For his victory, Littich earned a total of $7,220, including a $2,500 FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency award. READ MORE »

Dover Wins on Keowee

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Boater Randy Dover of Buford, Georgia, brought five to the scale Saturday totaling 15 pounds, 10 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Keowee in Seneca, South Carolina. For his victory, Dover earned a total of $5,627. READ MORE »

Robinson Slings a Blade on Martin

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Boater Dusty Robinson of Eclectic, Alabama, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama. For his victory, Robinson earned a total of $5,686, including a $1,000 Mercury contingency award. READ MORE »

Bethel Wins on Seminole

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