JEFFERSON CITY — Pro Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Okla., maintained his lead Saturday at the FLW Tour at the Cherokee Lake presented by Lowrance after catching five bass weighing 16 pounds even.
Upshaw’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 52-4 will lead the final 10 pros into the fourth and final day of the event, where he and his peers will cast for a top prize of up to $125,000.
After starting the day in eighth place, Yamamoto Baits pro Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., made a leap up the leaderboard with a limit weighing 17-6 to sit within striking distance of Upshaw in second place with a three-day cumulative total of 50-10, while Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Ark., sits in third with 50 pounds, 1 ounce. The stage is set for an exciting final day of competition with only 4 pounds, 15 ounces, separating 10th place from first.
Upshaw said he spent the day targeting main-lake spawning fish, a pattern he’s followed all week. He said his day started out slower than his first two mornings, which he admitted threw him off mentally.
“I pulled up to where I wanted to start and I caught a non-keeper immediately, and that’s only my second non-keeper of the week,” said Upshaw, who is seeking his first career victory in FLW Tour competition. “Then, a few minutes later, I caught another non-keeper, then another, and it really started spinning me out a little bit. Not necessarily the missed fish. But when you’re just catching little, little ones, it threw me off a little bit.
“Once I caught my first couple of decent ones, I kind of got this calming feeling,” Upshaw continued. “I really focused and got a little talkative – I got to where I was having fun. I caught a 4-pounder and I was really having fun — I know how big 4-pounders are going to be here.”
Upshaw said his plan for Championship Sunday is to try and eliminate the slow morning by going for a limit at a secondary area he’s been saving.
“What I’m trying to do is get that stress off of my back. I can pull up to this spot, and maybe not catch a bunch of fish, but I feel like I can catch two, three, maybe a limit fairly quick,” Upshaw said. “It’s actually a bigger area. It’s reloading and it’s got a ton of fish in it.”
The Oklahoma pro went on to say that he’s definitely feeling the pressure to finish strong after leading the event for three days, but with his secondary area set to potentially ease the stress of getting an initial limit, he has confidence that he can find his groove once again.
“As far as nerves go, I’ve dealt with high-stress situations before. Not just in tournament fishing, but in other sports like football and basketball and everything like that. Tomorrow I get to go have fun and I’ve got my family here to calm me down, so everything should be fine.”
1st: Andrew Upshaw, Tulsa, Okla., 15 bass, 52-4
2nd: Yamamoto Baits pro Tom Monsoor, La Crosse, Wis., 15 bass, 50-10
3rd: Dylan Hays, El Dorado, Ark., 15 bass, 50-1
4th: Grae Buck, Harleysville, Pa., 15 bass, 49-4
5th: Andy Young, Isle, Minn., 15 bass, 49-0
6th: Matt Becker, Finleyville, Pa., 15 bass, 48-13
7th: Tim Frederick, Leesburg, Fla., 15 bass, 48-3
8th: Jason Reyes, Huffman, Texas, 15 bass, 48-3
9th: Derrick Snavely, Piney Flats, Tenn., 15 bass, 48-2
10th: Tim Cales, Sandstone, W. Va., 15 bass, 47-5
Finishing 11th through 30th
11th: Lowrance pro Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, Minn., 15 bass, 47-4, $12,000
12th: Polaris pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 47-2, $12,000
13th: J. Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga., 15 bass, 46-14, $12,000
14th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 15 bass, 46-11, $12,000
15th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 46-11, $12,000
16th: Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 15 bass, 46-9, $11,500
17th: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 15 bass, 46-8, $11,500
18th: Dakota Ebare, Denham Springs, La., 15 bass, 46-4, $11,500
19th: Berkley pro Joey Cifuentes, Clinton, Ark., 15 bass, 45-14, $11,500
20th: Johnny McCombs, Morris, Ala., 15 bass, 45-14, $11,500
21st: Kerry Milner, Bono, Ark., 15 bass, 45-12, $10,500
22nd: Josh Douglas, Isle, Minn., 15 bass, 45-7, $10,500
23rd: A.J. Slegona, Pine Bush, N.Y., 15 bass, 45-6, $10,500
24th: Jon Englund, Farwell, Minn., 15 bass, 44-13, $10,500
25th: Yamamoto Baits pro Larry Nixon, Quitman, Ark., 15 bass, 43-5, $10,500
26th: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., 15 bass, 42-14, $10,500
27th: Jason Meninger, Saint Augustine, Fla., 15 bass, 42-14, $10,500
28th: Evan Barnes, Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 42-10, $10,500
29th: Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., 15 bass, 42-10, $10,500
30th: Kurt Mitchell, Milford, Del., 15 bass, 42-1, $10,500