Beau’s grandparents Boyd and Beverly Ashcraft of Kokomo also played a part in the national contest. Being in school didn’t leave much time for the many hours spent travelling. So Beau, his father and coach Darin Ashcraft, along with Zellers boarded a flight for Birmingham several days before the tournament. This would allow them time to practice. Darrin, who operated the boat during the tournament, had scouted Lay Lake about a month earlier.
The day before, a heavy rainstorm pounded the lake muddying the waters. This forced teams to adjust their strategies. Their advance practice paid off as they knew of a small tributary where the water remained clear. This is where they caught their fish earning them a fourth-place finish.
The extra day proved invaluable and was only made possible by Boyd and Beverly.
“Several weeks before, Darin called and asked if I could pull his boat so they could fly down giving them time to practice,” Boyd explained. “Being retired gave me the time to do it.”
So several days before the big show, Boyd latched on to his son’s Ranger bass boat for the long drive south. He picked up his son, grandson and Zellers from the airport and drove them straight to the lake.
“If Dad wouldn’t have been able to do that for us, the boys wouldn’t have had any practice time,” Darin said thankfully.
The entire event was unlike anything the eldest Ashcraft had ever seen. He became the team’s official “truck captain” launching the boat in the morning then driving them straight to the huge arena for the weigh in.
“The whole event was incredible,” said Boyd. “There were thousands of people there.”
The only Hoosier team in the event was quickly recognized and referred to as “the boys from up north.” While the pro who wins the nation’s greatest bass tourney takes home more than $300,000 in cash and sponsorships totaling well over $1 million, the boys took home a plaque and recognition. Federal law prohibits high schoolers from receiving monetary rewards. But that sits just fine for Ashcraft and Zellers.
“We plan on making it back to the Classic as adults,” Beau said confidently.
John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.