Andrew Upshaw cracks 27 pounds and change for the day 1 lead in the Sam Rayburn Costa Series event
February 23, 2017 by David A. Brown
Everyone knew that Sam Rayburn could churn out 20- to 30-pound bags this week at the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by YETI, and Oklahoma pro Andrew Upshaw set his “sights” on the upper end of that scale en route to topping the field on day one. Upshaw jumped in front with a limit that weighed 27 pounds, 1 ounce.
He came into the event planning to sight-fish, and that plan held up today. Upshaw, who had his final weight by about noon, took an ambitious approach to sizing up his opportunities.
“I didn’t stop if a fish was under 4 pounds. I just kept going,” he says. “I knew if I found them I could catch them.”
Upshaw caught all of his fish on a Texas-rigged Gene Larew Biffle Bug with a 5/16-ounce weight. He says the bait presents maximum agitation in the nest.
“That Biffle Bug is the best sight-fishing bait out there,” Upshaw says. “When you’re shaking it on the bottom, the legs are constantly kicking upward. Also, it has a tube-style body, so it floats. Unlike other creature-style baits, the Biffle Bug actually stands up off the bottom, instead of lying on the bottom. That gives the fish something to grab when they’re down there.”
Also important to his success was polarized eyewear. His choice: the new Costa Sunrise with silver mirror lenses.
“That’s really a big deal, especially when you’re sight-fishing early in the morning,” Upshaw says. “Those lenses allow you to sight-fish throughout the whole day and not just certain times.”
Although he focused on main creeks, Upshaw’s success hinged more on mobility. He covered a lot of water with the trolling motor on high and only stopped when he found a fish of the right quality. His first big bite came in the first 30 minutes, and from there, Upshaw says he caught fish throughout the rest of the day.
This style of fishing yielded only six keepers, but Upshaw believes the quality he found reflects a healthy lake that’s living up to its reputation.
“The lake is fishing probably five times better than I’ve seen it fish in the last 10 years. There’s a ton of grass, a lot of fat fish. You can pretty much do whatever you want to do to catch fish.”
To that point, Upshaw says he’s optimistic about day two.
“I had some really good prespawn stuff left that I didn’t have to touch today,” he says. “I’m really excited because I didn’t have to burn any of those fish.”
Top 10 Pros
1. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 27-1 (5)
2. Jason Bonds – Lufkin, Texas – 26-8 (5)
3. Charley Slaton – Valliant, Okla. – 25-3 (5)
4. Billy Billeaud – Lafayette, La. – 23-15 (5)
5. Kris Wilson – Montgomery, Texas – 23-0 (5)
6. Russell Cecil – Willis, Texas – 21-10 (5)
7. Trevor Stevenson – Fridley, Minn. – 21-5 (5)
8. Jeff Reynolds – Calera, Okla. – 21-4 (5)
9. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 20-15 (5)
10. Todd Castledine – Nacogdoches, Texas – 20-3 (5)
Root takes co-angler lead
Marching to the beat of a different drum proved to be a wise strategy for hometown co-angler Jacob Root, who took the early lead with a four-fish bag that weighed 20 pounds.
“I only caught four keepers. It was a long day, but they were the right keepers,” he says. “I fished for big bites and got four of them.”
Root caught his fish on a mix of topwaters and jigs. He chose his baits to vary his presentations from whatever his pro partner, Billy Cline, was doing.
Targeting prespawners, Root fished in a range of depths from 2 to 8 feet. He got the ball rolling fairly quickly and then knocked off the rest of his catch throughout the day.
“I caught my biggest fish [a 7-pounder] at 8:30. I caught a 5 at 9 and a 5 1/2 at 11,” he says. “I was happy at 11. The key was just fishing slowly.”
Top 10 co-anglers
1. Jacob Root – Brookeland, Texas – 20-0 (4)
2. David Kayda – Huffman, Texas – 18-14 (5)
3. Andrew Brandstrom – White Bear Lake, Minn. – 18-4 (5)
4. Johnny Babb – Holdenville, Okla. – 18-2 (5)
5. Colby Miller – Elmer, La. – 17-9 (5)
6. Chad McClendon – Grapevine, Texas – 17-7 (5)
7. Michael D. Greer Jr. – Deridder, La. – 17-0 (5)
8. Mat Downey – Kountze, Texas – 16-8 (5)
9. Craig Strickland – Lumberton, Texas – 16-7 (5)
10. Daren Scott – Aledo, Texas – 16-3 (5)