Payson Pro To Battle West's Best At Everstart

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Clifford Pirch will be among the 150 bass pros anxious to pocket prize money in the four-day $214,525 EverStart Western Division Series opener that begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lake Havasu.

The last time Pirch competed in the EverStart tournament, he walked away with $5,000 in prize money and ample television air time. His 10th place finish at the 2003 EverStart Championships last fall on the Old Hickory River near Nashville, Tenn. was featured on the FLW Outdoors cable network.

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Clifford Pirch is entered in the EverStart West Division Series opener being held tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lake Havasu.

In one segment of the broadcast, he was shown with a bass in one arm and infant daughter, Kailee, in the other.

On the first day of the tournament, Pirch weighed in the Snickers Big Bass winner -- a 6 pound, 7 ounce largemouth. For the catch, he earned $625 in prize money and the opportunity to fish the following day in the Snickers bass boat.

Pirch says he would like to repeat his 2003 showing at the upcoming tournament.

The winning pro is guaranteed $8,500 cash plus an Evinrude-or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS boat equipped with state-of-the-art electronics and a trolling motor.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $4,500 cash.

Pirch's longtime fishing partner, Reese Randall, will participate in the tournament as a co-angler.

The EverStart Series features the pro/co-angler format with pros supplying the boats, fishing from the front deck against other pros and controlling boat movements. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers.

Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. The winner receives 200 points, 199 points are awarded for second, 198 points for third, and so on.

The points are used to help seed the top 40 pros and co-anglers into the EverStart Series Championships Nov. 3 to 6 on Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Ky. The championships will be televised to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on "FLW Outdoors." The winning pro at the championships can earn $76,900 in cash and prizes including a fully equipped Ranger bass boat.

If Pirch and Randall are to earn berths into the mother of all bass wars, the first step will be taken when the two, and the remainder of the pro and co-angler field, take off at 7 a.m. tomorrow from Windsor Park in Lake Havasu City. Weigh-in for all four days of the tournament will be at 3 p.m. The full field will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who will advance to Friday's semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight.

At the 2003 tournament, Pirch earned a berth in the semifinals by weighing in five bass that tipped the scales at 13 pounds, 5 ounces.

In EverStart competitions, anglers' weights are cleared for the semifinal round. The top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers in the semifinals advance to the final round Saturday. The overall champion is determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

The final day of the 2003 tournament spelled the end of Pirch's hopes of winning the EverStart championship. After weighing-in 5 pounds and 4 ounces during the semifinals, Pirch failed to catch a fish on the final day of the tournament.

Getting ready

Pirch and Randall tuned up for the tournament with an eighth-place finish at the AllStar Bass Team Tournament March 6 at Apache Lake.

For their catch of 13.73 pounds, the pair shared $1,350 in prize money. The seventh-place team of Brandon Gifford and Jerry Ritchie of Mesa earned $950 less than the Payson duo.

That occurred, Pirch said, because he and Randall won an "option" or a side tournament they entered against other anglers.

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