Rim country professional fisherman Clifford Pirch drew plenty of national air time on television Sunday.
During a one-hour segment broadcast on the FLW Outdoors cable network, Pirch was featured for his exploits in the 2003 EverStart Championship Oct. 29 to Nov. 1. The tournament was held on the Old Hickory River near Nashville, Tenn.
In one segment of the broadcast, he was shown with a big bass in one arm and his infant daughter, Kailee, in the other.
Back at home, Pirch's parents, friends and former classmates were glued to their televisions eager to get a glimpse of him.
The EverStar championships drew a field of 149 pros and 149 co-anglers representing 47 states, Canada and Japan. To participate in the lucrative event, anglers had to qualify in one of four EverStart series divisions -- Central, Eastern Northern or Western. Pirch advanced as the Western qualifier.
The former Longhorn wrestling and cross country star eventually survived a bleak final tournament day -- during which he didn't catch a fish --o finish 10th overall. For his showing, he pocketed $5,000 in prize money.
The tournament champ, Dick Shaffer of Celina, Ohio, earned $25,000 and a Ranger bass boat.
Pirch opened the skirmish weighing in four fish at 10 pounds, 2 ounces. In the catch was the day's Snickers Big Bass winner -- a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth. Pirch was awarded $625 by the event sponsors for that catch.
Throughout the tournament, qualifiers battled adverse weather conditions that included a thick blanket of fog on opening day that postponed the start 90 minutes.
Also during the tournament, a tough bass bite stymied pros and amateurs alike.
According to EverStart officials, the poor fishing conditions could be attributed to the fishing pressure the lake receives and unpredictable fall fishing patterns.
On the second day, Pirch caught one fish that weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces.
At the conclusion of the first two days, his five fish --hich totaled 13 pounds, 5 ounces -- were enough to earn him a berth in the semifinal rounds. The semifnals featured the tournament's top 20 qualifiers in a battle in which all previous weights were discarded.
Day 3 of the fray saw Pirch catch four fish weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. At day's end, only two of the 20 qualifiers caught five fish. Pirch managed to catch four. Several boated only one or two bass.
Although Pirch suffered a shut-out on the final day when only 10 qualifiers participated, his four-day showing earned him a nice-sized paycheck and the invaluable national exposure tournament competitors must have to attract sponsors.
When not fishing the professional tournament circuit, Pirch is a local guide and a columnist for the Payson Roundup.