Those of you who read my blogs on the Opens page of Bassmaster.com know that my daughter, Valerie, tries to come to every Open tournament I compete in. She made it to the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open at Lake St. Clair in July 2012.
After the Day 2 weigh-in, we were walking together through the parking lot when we came upon Andrew Upshaw working on tackle in his boat. Upshaw had made the Top 12 and would finish third the next day.
I had met Andrew at a Lew’s/Gene Larew media event the year before. He had won the Carhartt College Series championship in 2011, which earned him a berth to the Red River Bassmaster Classic in 2012. His goal is to become a fulltime bass tournament professional.
Valerie and I stopped to chat with Andrew and wish him good luck. This is where they met for the first time. I never mentioned it to Valerie but I had a premonition that they would become a couple.
Their relationship began 8 months later when Andrew sent her a text message out of the blue. Fast forward to Nov. 9, 2013, the day they married on an island in Toledo Bend Reservoir. It was a wedding with a bass fishing theme.
Andrew’s parents, Larry and Kay Upshaw, live on the banks of Toledo Bend. It is where Andrew got hooked on bass fishing.
Family members and close friends viewed the wedding from pontoon boats beached on the island’s shoreline. Valerie, her bridesmaid, Jody Ice, and I arrived via bass boat. The day was overcast and chilly, but the rain, thankfully, held off.
After boating back to the Upshaw’s home, the wedding party was greeted by a throng of well-wishers for the reception. Many of these folks were bass fishermen and wives of bass fishermen.
My wife, Debbi, and I were a long way from Ohio but we have never felt more at home. These Texans are warm and wonderful — and they fish and hunt.
Andrew and Valerie Upshaw are starting their life together in Tulsa, Okla. Andrew works for Dollahon Public Relations. Lew’s fishing tackle and Gene Larew Lures are two of the company’s clients. Valerie is a registered nurse at a major hospital in Tulsa.
Andrew will continue his pursuit of a professional fishing career. He hopes to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series via the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens next year. Andrew fell just shy of this goal when he fished the Northern Opens in 2012. Valerie will travel to tournaments with Andrew whenever her job allows.