Everstart Opener Lures Rim Pro

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Rim country fishing pro Clifford Pirch has his sights set on winning as much as $60,000 that will be awarded the first-place finisher in the EverStart Western Division series tournament opener.

But before Pirch can pocket any prize money, he'll have beat more than 300 pros and co-anglers that are expected to compete in the tournament Jan. 28 to 31 at Lake Pleasant.

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Clifford Pirch (right), a fishing guide and professional tournament competitor, checks out a bass caught by Gerry Foster. The two were fishing on Roosevelt Lake last fall.

Pirch is anticipating the tournament will be a huge challenge for him and the other competitors.

"It will be tough fishing at Lake Pleasant," he predicts. "Fishing pressure has taken its toll on the lake."

As tough as Pleasant fishing might be, Pirch enters the fray as an EverStart series veteran. He fished each of the Western Division events last year and finished 10th at the EverStart national championships on the Old Hickory River in Tennessee.

Pirch's fishing partner, Reese Randall, also is entered in the tournament, fishing as a co-angler rather than a pro.

Being a co-angler isn't without its rewards for a good showing. If 150 boats enter the tournament, the winning co-angler is guaranteed $4,500 in cash. If he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $34,500.

In the tournament format, the pros supply the boats and fish from the front deck while controlling boat movements. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete only against other co-anglers.

The full field of tournament entrants will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers. They will advance to Friday's semifinal round based on the two-day accumulated weights.

Weights are cleared for the semifinal round and anglers compete for one day to determine who will advance to Saturday's final round. Only the top 10 pro and 10 co-anglers compete Saturday. The overall winner is determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

In addition to the competition at Lake Pleasant, the Western Division series features tournaments at Lake Havasu, Clear Lake Calif., and the California Delta near Oakley.

If Pirch can finish among the top 30 in the final points standings of the Western Division as he did last year, he'll earn the right to advance to the EverStart Championships Nov. 3 to 6 on Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Ky. The championships dole out $335,975 in prize money and are broadcast to the 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life television network.

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