UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Mitchell

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10
Andrew Upshaw

Day one of the FLW Tour presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake was an absolute catchfest. Leading the way, Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Okla., weighed 18 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead, but 13 other pros also weighed more than 16 pounds.

Day one was dominated by smallmouths, despite the slick water and sunny skies. With new weather in line for day two, we could be headed for an epic leaderboard shakeup considering how tight the weights are.

Day one coverage blog

Complete results

Upshaw, though, isn’t too worried about what day two has in store for him and the rest of the field. After all, this is his first time fishing Cherokee, and he managed to find what his marshal estimated to be 28 keepers throughout the day, including five that were good enough to secure the day-one lead for the eight-year Tour vet.

“This is my first time here,” he says. “I fell in love with it the first hour of practice. It really reminds me of a lake I grew up fishing which is Lake Texoma. It really reminds me a lot of that. How the fish set up is so similar, and they spawn on a lot of the exact same stuff.”

Upshaw fished slow and methodical throughout the day, and while he was tight-lipped about the baits he was throwing, it’s safe to assume it involved finesse tactics and a spinning rod, as was the case with a large portion of the field on day one.

Finding key fish in practice was crucial for Upshaw, who marked a couple he shook off while working on figuring out the fishery. He went back to that spot after already securing a limit of 14 or 15 pounds in the first hour of the day and caught two upgrades. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the Oklahoma pro.

“That was pretty much my day,” he admits. “I really stopped fishing and got lucky late in the day and caught a 3 3/4 [pounder] that culled up a 3-pounder. Overall, I can’t really complain.”

Part of Upshaw’s strategy for laying off his fish early in the day was due to the quantity of 3-pounders he was catching, mostly in areas where he figured fish were bedding. Though he wasn’t sight-fishing, Upshaw believes a good portion of the fish he caught on day one was comprised of bedding fish, and with a premium placed on 3-pounders, he didn’t want to wear them out.

“I caught a lot of 3-pounders,” he adds. “That’s why at about 10 o’clock I laid off them completely, because I caught too many 3s, and I knew how crucial 3-pounders would be in this tournament. I just laid off and later in the day I rolled up to one other little place I was saving just to see if I could get a bite and I caught a 3 3/4 and got out of there.”

Asked if he had any concerns about changing weather (with rain in the forecast for day two) or having enough fish to sustain a deep tournament run, Upshaw reiterated that the way things have played out so far, there’s not much reason to worry.

“All practice we had every kind of weather condition you could imagine, from cold mornings to rain and wind and everything in between, so I think it’ll be pretty much the same,” he explains. “I had a pretty consistent practice no matter what the weather was.

“I’m not necessarily worried about tomorrow, but a lot of guys caught a good bag today, and that’s a lot of fish taken off the bed. It might get exponentially tougher.”

“Tougher” is a relative term considering the sheer quantity of fish caught on Thursday. As long as the quality is still there – especially at Upshaw’s best spots – he has an excellent chance of remaining near the top of the pack heading into the weekend.

 

Dylan Hays

2. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 17-13 (5)

Dylan Hays went way off the beaten path on day one, en route to a 17-13 bag and second place on the leaderboard. He didn’t want to say exactly where he was fishing, but the way he was fishing – “a big rod and big line” – was well outside the norm for the field on Thursday.

Hays did a good deal of sight-fishing, and the result was another abnormality in the form of a mixed-bag comprised primarily of largemouths.

“I was on a spot I found the last day of practice I got two key bites on,” he says. “One I caught was a big one and the next cast I shook a big one off.”

Hays went back to that spot on day one and spent most of his time there. When he ran some different areas, Hays tried to copy his pattern of targeting staging areas where he might find some bedding fish.

As is almost always the case when fishing with your eyes, wind, rain and cloud cover could certainly force Hays to change gears on day two. For now, though, he’s in mighty fine shape.

 

Tim Frederick

3. Tim Frederick – Leesburg, Fla. – 17-4 (5)

Tim Frederick hunkered down in one mid-lake area of Cherokee to catch what he estimates to be at least 25 fish on day one. It was an area Frederick believes is prime for new fish to move up to spawn throughout the day, which is the main reason he stayed put and milked that one-mile area all day long.

“Last day in practice I caught two 4-pounders on it, so I started there, and I pretty much stayed there,” he explains. “I probably caught 25 fish. I did miss one about 5 pounds that I’m hoping should be there tomorrow. I didn’t burn any gas once I got there. I kind of stayed in three little areas and that was pretty much it within a mile area.”

Frederick is a little concerned about the pressure a 163-boat field can produce on a lake like Cherokee, though, and with different weather moving in for day two, he expects to run some new water.

“I’m still going to fish the same way doing the same things, however, I’m going to run more spots tomorrow,” he adds. “A bunch of people caught a bunch of fish today. If I can catch 14 pounds tomorrow I’ll be tickled to death.”

Wherever Frederick fishes, though, he’s convinced he’s around the quality of fish that can lead him to a win.

“I know I’m around the right fish,” he says. “I just think the area I’m at has the better quality fish. I’m going to fish slow and hope for five good bites.”

 

Austin Felix

Andy Young

3. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 17-4 (5)

5. Andy Young – Isle, Minn. – 17-2 (5)

Austin Felix and Andy Young are no strangers to hammering on smallmouths. Both hail from Minnesota, and, amusingly enough, both were fishing so similarly that they opted to give a joint interview after weighing in on day one, eschewing the typical stigma of giving away too much information to fellow competitors.

Both anglers were targeting bedding smallmouths, and while they did so in different areas of the lake, the approach was the same.

“Just finesse fishing for spawning smallmouths,” Young says. “I was in the mid-lake area. I don’t know how many I caught but I’m guessing 25.”

“I caught at least 50 bass today,” Felix says. “I’m like in an area where they’re really mixed. I’ll catch a couple smallmouths on a stretch and then I’ll catch a couple largemouths and then I’ll catch a bunch of spots. I had one big largemouth that saved my day.”

Felix and Young weren’t sight-fishing, per se. Instead, both anglers were keying in on transition areas where there was a good chance a smallmouth was bedding down.

“We weren’t looking at them, but you’re fishing for them and kind of got to figure out what they’re on,” adds Felix. “Rock and transition banks stuff – wherever there’s a shelf or something hard for them to get next to or sit on top of.”

While both pros put together quality bags on day one, their mindset heading into Friday is where Felix and Young finally vary.

“I don’t know if I have anything left to be honest with you,” Felix admits. “I marked some fish I either missed or lost. I’ll run all that stuff early [Friday].”

Young, on the other hand, expects to build on a solid practice period to keep his run going.

“The first day of practice I had like 18 pounds just hunting for them,” Young adds. “I think tomorrow that’s what I’m going to do. I kind of know what to look for.”

 

News and Notes

 

Chad Warren

Good karma

Chad Warren is having himself quite a season to this point (39th in AOY standings). With a good deed today, he might have enough good karma on his side to make a little leap at Cherokee.

Around 11 o’clock, Brandon Mosley’s boat broke down. Mosley and Warren talked, and the latter offered to let Mosley fish from his boat to fill out his limit. At that point, Warren had a 13-plus-pound limit and Mosley only had three fish.

Mosley went on to catch a couple more keepers to finish the day with 12-4 (103rd place) and Warren brought his 13-4 to the weigh-in stage to finish the day in 77th place.

Here’s to hoping Warren’s generosity is rewarded on day two.

 

Christopher Brasher

Limits aplenty, big fish… a few.

Of the 163 anglers who fished on Thursday, 143 weighed in a five-bass limit. That’s nearly unheard of at any level of competition, even the Tour level.

The average bag weight on day one was 12 pounds, 10 ounces, but that number doesn’t really do justice to the sheer volume of fish caught so far on Cherokee.

On the other hand, big bass (weighed in by Chris Brasher) only weighed 5-8, though you won’t hear too many anglers complaining about size when Cherokee is churning out so many keeper fish.

 

Bradford Beavers

The big question mark

Thunderstorms are expected to roll in Friday morning, accompanied by potentially all-day rain and a lot more wind that was present most of Thursday. Compared to the warm, sunny conditions on day one, day two is going to make for some big adjustments.

Depending on who you talk to, rain and wind could improve the bite on day two. It could also completely eliminate any sight-fishing bite and force anglers to switch up patterns on the fly.

The weather is truly the big wild card heading into day two, though it’s hard to say what the final result will be in terms of weights and number of fish caught.

 

Top 10 pros

1. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 18-6 (5)

2. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 17-13 (5)

3. Tim Fredrick – Leesburg, Fla. – 17-4 (5)

3. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 17-4 (5)

5. Andy Young – Isle, Minn. – 17-2 (5)

5. Jason Reyes – Huffman, Texas – 17-2 (5)

7. Johnny McCombs – Morris, Ala. – 17-1 (5)

8. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 17-0 (5)

9. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. - `16-12 (5)

10. Buddy Gross – Chickamauga, Ga. – 16-9 (5)

Complete results

Tags: justin-onslow  headline-story  2019-04-11-cherokee-lake 

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

Fall from grace stories are rarely told in the fishing world. Tournament pros come and go from year to year, some after having found a little success and some leaving the pro fishing world with little show for it. That’s the nature of a sport predicated on competing with the best of the best in a format that sometimes rewards chance. Often, hard work and skill aren’t enough to precipitate prolonged success. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Martin

AOY Update: Lake Martin

Through three events of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, second-year pro and 2019 Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson remains atop the Angler of the Year standings after a second-place finish at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Abram’s Dream Comes True

Abram’s Dream Comes True

All week on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit the weights have been close, so it was only fitting that the final weigh-in followed suit. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram One Day Away

Abram One Day Away

Day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin was a bit tougher for the 30 pros on the water, and while quality has been tough to come by all week, that was especially the case today READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram Out Front on Martin

Abram Out Front on Martin

Same story, different day on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. When it comes to catching fish, Martin is on fire at the moment. However, just like on day one, big bites are tough to come by on the Alabama fishery. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Adams Leads at Martin

Adams Leads at Martin

Catching fish wasn’t going to be the issue for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin and after day one that certainly was the case. With the entire field catching a limit, the weights are stacked with a little over 4 pounds separating 100th and 10th. Finding a Lake Martin kicker was Barron Adams, who sacked 17 pounds, 2 ounces to take the lead – thanks in large part to his 8-13 Berkley Big Bass. Just 15 ounces back is Derrick Snavely and the weights tighten up a lot from there. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 1 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin kicks off a day early from Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Martin

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Martin

FLW media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the third stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Start Date at Lake Martin

FLW Shifts Start Date at Lake Martin

FLW announced today that this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at Lake Martin, originally scheduled to start Thursday, has been shifted and will now begin competition Wednesday. Hosted by the Alexander City Chamber, the tournament will remain a four-day event and will now run through Saturday. This decision is based on a desire to allow pros, who began practicing for the tournament March 15, to safely complete the event and return home as quickly as possible amid evolving COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Results from the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu probably didn’t surprise any Western anglers who are familiar with the fishery. For folks in other parts of the country that might only have followed FLW’s early February events on the Colorado River reservoir, the tournament results might have opened some eyes to just how good the fishing can be on Havasu. Particularly on day one, the lake delivered, kicking out 12 limits of more than 20 pounds, including Tai Au’s limit of 26 pounds, 1 ounce. The success on day one resulted from a perfect storm of conditions for catching spawning bass on beds.  READ MORE »

Dice Gets it Done on Smith Mountain

Dice Gets it Done on Smith Mountain

Jack Dice of Lynchburg, Virginia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 22 pounds even to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston, Virginia. For his victory, Dice earned a total of $5,246. READ MORE »

Steckler Claims Ozark Title

Steckler Claims Ozark Title

Cory Steckler of Rocky Mount, Missouri, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. For his victory, Steckler earned a total of $13,457, including the lucrative $7,000 FLW PHOENIX Bonus contingency award. The victory was the second win of Steckler’s FLW career. READ MORE »

Graham Wins on Dale Hollow

Graham Wins on Dale Hollow

Brett Graham of Cold Spring, Kentucky, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mountain division opener at Dale Hollow Reservoir in Byrdstown, Tennessee. For his victory, Graham earned a total of $6,000. READ MORE »

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., weighed in a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 15 ounces today to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Toyota Series Western Division season opener on Lake Havasu. Au’s three-day total was 61-3.  READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Tournament leader Tai Au managed to stay in first place by recognizing key environmental factors and knowing when to change up his baits. Yesterday, four of the five bass that Au weighed in were bass he caught sight-fishing. Today, he didn’t look at any of the bass he brought to the scale. Au still managed to weigh in 18 pounds, 3 ounces, taking his two-day total to 44-4. He’s searching for his first FLW victory this week.  READ MORE »