California anglers were no match for a pair of Rim country fishermen during the four days of the Delta Western EverStart Bass Tournament.
Clifford Pirch, the only non-California angler in the top 10 finishers, emerged as the pro division tournament runner-up. In the co-angler division, Reese Randall was victorious.
The tournament, which wrapped up May 8, was contested on delta lakes near Oakley, Calif.
Pirch describes the delta area as "like a 1000 miles of canals where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers merge."
For his second place finish, Pirch pocketed $7,600 in prize money. Randall earned $4,200.
In the final two days of the tournament, after the weights had been zeroed for 20 qualifiers, Pirch weighed in 34 pounds, 8 ounces of bass. The tournament champion, Mike Saso of Elk Grove, Calif. caught 36 pounds, 2 ounces.
Pirch's best day on the delta was the final go-around when he caught 19 pounds.
"I almost pulled it off," he said. "I had a 2-1/2 pounder in there, if I'd have had a five-pounder, I'd have won."
The Rim angler had to overcome a mediocre first day when he weighed in 15 pounds, 8 ounces.
In the early days of the tournament, his philosophy was to sight fish.
"We had a low tide and I was able to do it (sight fish) for about an hour," he said. "The tide got later each day so I did some blind sight fishing and also had a top water pattern going."
Due to the heavy cover in the deltas, Pirch used 50-pound McCoy braid.
"It's really strong ... when you catch a bass that buries himself in the mud and muck, it (the line) won't break pulling them in." Randall accumulated a 10-bass weight of 33 pounds, 14 ounces over the course of the final two days.
The pro-angler runner-up, Pat Wilson, of Petaluma, Calif., caught a 9 pound, 8 ounce lunker the final day that put a scare in Randall during the weigh in, according to Pirch.
"He got pretty nervous when he saw that big one," Pirch said. "It was an exciting weigh in."
Even with the huge bass in his catch, Wilson's total weight was about three pounds less than Randall's.
In co-angler competition, entrants share a boat with a pro but fish from the back of the boat. The boat is also piloted by the professional.
Next up on Pirch's agenda are two Arizona tournaments and a return trip to the delta for the Bassmaster Open.
Randall will also fish the local tournaments.