A former Payson High School three-sport star fulfilling his childhood dream of making a living on the professional bass fishing circuit has been tapped to serve as Grand Marshal of Payson’s Electric Light Parade when it illuminates historic Main Street beginning 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3.
Clifford Pirch was chosen Grand Marshal, “Due to his successful career on the FLW Tour, hometown local personality and his continued efforts toward helping spread the word about Payson and the Rim Country as a place to visit, recreate and relocate,” said Town of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis.
At Payson High, Pirch shined in wrestling, cross-country and track and field. He was also an honor student and widely considered a student body leader.
Students and teachers recognized him as a highly skilled outdoors person who earned pocket money collecting and selling deer and elk antlers. Most of that money was spent on lures, poles, reels and resources oddly called Texas Rigs, crankbaits, split shots, Chubby Chasers and wiggle worms.
After graduating from PHS, he attended Northern Arizona University and worked summers for the USFS fighting forest fires, often rapelling from helicopters into dangerous, remote locations.
Taught the nuances of fishing by his father, Dennis, Clifford Pirch took up professional bass fishing several years ago and has since enjoyed some huge days on the angling tour.
Last spring, while competing on Lake Chickamauga near Chattanooga, Tenn., he angled his way to a career-first win on the FLW Tour tournament.
The win was televised nationally.
Less than a month later, Pirch tacked a third-place finish to his resumé, winning the bronze at an EverStart Series Western Division event on the California Delta.
In his pro career, Pirch has also fished his way to two WON U.S. open championships winning in 2007 and again in 2010.
In 2009, Pirch finished first in a Walmart FLW National Guard Western Division Tournament at Clear Lake, Calif. In the tournament’s final round, the Payson angler set a Western Division single-day heaviest bag record of a whopping 37 pounds, 8 ounces.
At the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, probably the most prestigious tournament on the pro circuit, Pirch finished 13th — his best showing ever.
Davis calls Pirch, “a perfect example of someone who has reached for the stars and achieved success on a very high level at a very young age.”
Also, Davis adds, “We are very excited to have him as our Grand Marshal.”