UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

First Look at Seminole with Upshaw

First Look at Seminole with Upshaw
Andrew Upshaw

Stop No. 3 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes place at Lake Seminole and is presented by Costa. Though Seminole is a historic lake that is well-trafficked by the Costa FLW Series, the Tour hasn’t been here since 1996. It’s relatively unfamiliar for many pros, and Andrew Upshaw is one of them. In his eighth year on Tour, Upshaw has qualified for the FLW Cup in back-to-back years, and he’s off to a great start in 2019, sitting at 15th in the points through the first two events. With that in mind, I hopped in the boat with him for his first-ever day of fishing on Seminole. 

 

Arriving late the night before from Oklahoma, Upshaw is certainly not the first in the water, but he isn’t the last either. He arrives to the ramp once it’s mostly daylight and unloads a pile of rods from his truck to begin a little re-rigging before dumping in the boat.

 

Launching at Jack Wingate’s Lunker Lodge, Upshaw clicks on his electronics, idles through the no-wake zone, and then heads out and down the Flint River arm of the lake.

 

Upshaw makes his first casts in some hydrilla near the bank after setting down in the channel and idling up to the shallows. Though he peeped at his electronics along the way, the stretch of idling was more out of precaution than anything else. Seminole has a ton of gnarly standing timber.

Pretty quickly, he gets a bite that doesn’t hook up on a vibrating jig. But, before he can expand on it, the grass he’s fishing disappears, so he pulls the trolling motor to look for more.

 

Upshaw idles back near where he started and fishes his way around the heart of a big flat of hydrilla. Quickly, he deems it too expansive to break down right now, and makes a short move to a steeper bank.

I ask about his outlook for the tournament. It’s spring, and a lot of variety should be available.

“As much as I like sight-fishing, I want it to be a sight-fishing tournament,” says Upshaw. “But, the weather is acting weird, and I don’t know how these fish react to the cold. I think it could go either way. It could be a bang-up sight-fishing event, or you could need to find a backup pattern winding something.”

Today, considering it’s overcast and early in practice, the sight-fishing bite isn’t a major part of the plan.

 

After a few more casts on the bank, Upshaw moves again, running down the lake and across to the mouth of Spring Creek. He starts to idle in and is quickly stopped by glistening clear water on a sand flat. He cuts the motor and hops up to give it a look.

Upshaw is flabbergasted at how clear the water is. He can see down more than 4 feet as he trolls around and casts a worm.

“Someone is going to blast ’em out here,” says Upshaw. “I’m like a kid in a candy store now. I don’t know why, but I never expected it to be this clear.”

As he’s sliding along, Upshaw leans into the first fish of the day. It’s a little buck that ate his worm.

 

With Power-Poles down, Upshaw pauses to re-rig. The water clarity is truly unexpected, and he’s now adjusting accordingly by adding a wacky worm and a more shad-colored crankbait to his arsenal. Then he’s back to work, crisscrossing the flat with purpose, heading farther into the creek and mostly going from one high spot to another.

 

The bottom where Upshaw is fishing is a mix of sand patches, hydrilla and a few other grasses, with undulations throughout. It’s pretty delicious looking, and his inability to see one on a bed or catch anything besides a little pickerel is frustrating him a bit.

After covering quite a bit of ground, he digs for another rod and pauses to Facetime his wife and son, who got snowed on back in Oklahoma.

 

Continuing across the flat, Upshaw ties into one, boating another decent keeper bass on his worm. Three more bites come from the same spot. Needless to say, he drops a waypoint. After easing over to investigate, it turns out that the fish are sitting right on a little transition, which the Oklahoma pro naturally files away for future reference.

 

Upshaw really hasn’t pulled out a ton of rods. He’s developed a reputation for showing up at the ramp at the end of practice with about 30 rods on the deck, but so far he’s keeping himself in check. Mostly, he’s got a mix of worms and different moving baits tied up on a squadron of Lew’s baitcasters. Though Seminole can fish pretty good with a spinning rod, he doesn’t put one on the deck during my ride along.

 

With almost two hours of fishing under his belt on this flat, Upshaw has had a chance to try about everything, but a phone call with Scott Martin elicits another change on his vibrating jig selection. Despite the swap, he’s striking out pretty hard on some really good-looking water.

Upshaw says he’s planning on spending the majority of his practice in the Spring Creek area because of how good the history is there. So, he’s not really discouraged at his lack of bites. He thinks it’s a matter of time before the pieces come together.

 

A passing rain squall forces a quick change into and then out of rain suits, but it doesn’t seem to trigger the fish. Shortly thereafter, Upshaw slides off into water that’s a bit deeper to try his hand at some fishing that’s a little more focused on hydrilla and a little less focused on the shallow, sandy spots.

 

Upshaw is soon digging up tackle again, this time pulling out two boxes of lipless crankbaits. He thinks he’s got at least one of every brand in the boat, but from the looks of it, he might have more than that. Regardless, he’s packing plenty of heat on the lipless side of things, and it makes sense considering he grew up on Toledo Bend and Rayburn.

After selecting a couple of translucent patterns, he’s slinging again.

 

Out deeper, Upshaw quickly marks some bass that are sitting on the edge of the grass out in front of the boat. He’s sure they’re bass on his electronics, but he can’t coax a bite. After a couple bait changes without success, he drops a waypoint and moves on.

 

Eventually Upshaw gets pretty well stuck on one of the many stumps in Seminole. The situation is like a sign to make a move. Cranking the Merc, he shoves off from the stump and begins idling toward the boat lane. Then, he stops and grabs his push pole. The stump managed to kick his transducer up, and it’s messing up his reading. After a quick adjustment, he’s idling and scanning like he wants to be.

 

Out in the boat lane in Spring Creek, Upshaw marvels at how narrow it is and how close some serious stumps are to the lane. According to him, the boat lanes on Toledo Bend are a lot more user friendly. After a short run, he starts idling and puts a waypoint down on some fish sitting on a break. Then, he makes a move back toward the ramp.

 

At the ramp, Upshaw drops me off and heads to the truck to grab a couple of boxes of jerkbaits and swimbaits. He wants a little more ammo for the clear water. After pulling a couple more rods out and rigging them at the dock, he picks up his Power-Poles, cranks his motor and heads back out to learn more about Seminole.

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2019-03-07-lake-seminole 

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