A 12-15 stringer in Saturday's final round was enough to give Oklahoma's Andrew Upshaw the victory at the FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Upshaw, a first-time FLW Tour winner earlier this year, finished with a three-day total of 42-15 for a winning margin of 1-10 over runner-up Rob Burns of Texas.
Upshaw took home the top prize of $50,000 plus a $2,500 Mercury Marine contingency bonus.
Upshaw said his main pattern out was targeting main-lake transition bluffs that “had to have the river-channel swing on it. Not just a transition, but a swing.”
“This lake is absolutely full of smallmouth and I’ve always said that if you’re not catching them consistently, then you’re not doing the right thing,” Upshaw said. “So during practice, I’d just run around and find areas where I was consistently finding a bunch of bites. I had about 15 spots – some of them didn’t ever fire like they did in practice, but some did better.”
Upshaw mentioned four baits as catching most of his fish. He caught a couple of bass each on a buzzbait, a football-head jig and a Ned rig – a Strike King Ned Ocho worm (green-pumpkin) with a 1/8-ounce Gene Larew Ned Rig Pighead. He said the majority of his keepers came on a 3/8- and 1/2-ounce Strike King Bitsy Flip Jig with a Strike King Baby Rage Craw (green-pumpkin).
“The first day they were eating it on the drop,” Upshaw said. “As soon as you flipped it up there they were just swimming off with it, right on the bank. Yesterday they kind of shifted out a little bit, and today they were even deeper.
“I was fishing the jig anywhere between 5 and 14 feet. I’d let it free-fall on slack line and then let it just gradually fall down the bluff. I feathered it all the way down and that’s when they’d eat it. It was a timing deal – anytime between 10 (a.m.) and 3 (p.m.) is when they would really bite.
“I love catching fish, and I absolutely love these Kentucky and Tennessee smallmouth. They are the best, and they’ve made me a lot of money this year. I’ve been to Lake Cumberland a couple of times on Tour and fell in love with it. I couldn’t be happier to win again on this lake.”
Here are the final totals for the top 10:
1. Andrew Upshaw: 42-15
2. Rob Burns: 41-05
3. Matt Pangrac: 38-06
4. Luke Plunkett: 36-09
5. Travis Manson: 35-01
6. Rusty Salewske: 33-10
7. Laramy Strickland: 31-06
8. Steve Floyd: 30-06
9. Brent Algeo: 28-07
10. David Valdivia: 24-01