Andrew Upshaw returns to his B.A.S.S. roots

[Full disclosure from the author: Andrew Upshaw is my son-in-law. He met my daughter Valerie when she came to support me at a Bassmaster Open tournament I competed in several years ago at Lake St. Clair. They married in 2013 and now live in Tulsa, Okla., with my 4-year-old grandson, Cain.

I sold my first article to Bassmaster Magazine in the early 1970s and have been a regular contributor to B.A.S.S. publications and to their website ever since. I am blessed and proud to be associated with B.A.S.S. and the wonderful people who make this organization the foundation for the sport we all love. I am thrilled that Andrew will be returning to the B.A.S.S. family, and I will be pulling for his success with no apologies.]

After eight years on the FLW Tour, Andrew Upshaw will be fishing the Eastern and Central Opens in 2020 with the goal of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. This will be a homecoming of sorts because Upshaw was the first Bassmaster Carhartt College Series champion to qualify for the Classic.

He finished 31st at the 2012 Red River Classic, which left him longing to come back.

“I’ve competed in a number of championship events since then, but none of them compare to the Classic,” Upshaw said.

After the Red River Classic, Upshaw nearly qualified for the Elite Series via the Northern Opens in 2012. He finished 16th at the first Open on the James River and third at the next event on the Detroit River.

He was leading the AOY point standings after the first day of the third and final tournament of the series on Cayuga Lake. The following day he lost 18 bass, brought only one fish to the scales and fell short of qualifying for the Elite Series.

“That stunned me,” Upshaw said. “I knew I wasn’t ready at that point to compete on the Elites and be successful.”

That same year Upshaw qualified for the FLW Tour through what is now known as the Costa Series. Since then he has amassed nearly $500,000 in winnings and has qualified for the last three Forrest Wood Cup championships. It would have been four Cup appearances in a row had FLW not been sold and its format altered.

“I’ve spent eight years on the FLW Tour, honing my skills and working really hard to become a better fisherman,” Upshaw said.

In 2019 Upshaw won his first FLW Tour event at Lake Cherokee and the Costa Championship at Lake Cumberland. He appears ready to step up to the Elites. Of course, that means qualifying via the Bassmaster Opens, which is one of the tallest hurdles in this sport.

“FLW was a phenomenal home for me and they treated me extremely well,” Upshaw said. “But all that has changed since they were purchased. I’m young enough that I can have a long career on the Elites if I can get there. I’m going to put all my focus on the Opens. Undoubtedly, it will take everything I’ve got to make it.”

Upshaw’s decision to fish the Opens didn’t come easily. He struggled with it for weeks, discussed it with his wife and family and asked for guidance from above.

“I had to look two to three years into the future to see where I wanted to be,” Upshaw said. “I want to be on the Elite Series and win one of those blue trophies. I’ve dreamed of winning the Classic, the ultimate championship, since I was a kid. And, I’m glad to be going back to my roots, which is B.A.S.S."