Payson professional angler Clifford Pirch has expanded his angling repertoire to include the B.A.S.S. professional circuit with big time success.
Competing Jan. 19 to Jan. 21 in the Southern Open on the Harris Chain of lakes located near Orlando, Fla., Pirch finished second in the 187-angler field with a catch that tipped the scales at 58.1 pounds. Guntersville, Ala. angler Chris Lane was first with 72.11 pounds.
The tournament was the kickoff event of the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open Series.
Pirch calls competing on the Harris Chain a huge challenge because “it is a fickle place to fish” mostly because a slight two-degree change in weather temperatures can alter the behavior patterns of the bass.
Just five days after garnering the silver medal finish, Pirch entered the inaugural Professional Angler’s Association (PAA) Tour Team Challenge on Lake Toho near Columbia, S.C.
He decided to enter at the last minute on the invitation of fishing partner James Watson.
The pair eventually finished a very respectable 10th, weighing in 44.11 pounds.
The duo’s best day of the tournament was the second when they caught 16.24 pounds. On the first, they weighed in 15.27 pounds, which included Pirch’s 8.85-pound lunker.
Pirch says the catch could be aired on an upcoming national television program on the new NBC sports channel.
He is unsure of the date it will air.
On the third and final day, the team tallied 12.60 pounds.
Pirch normally fishes the FLW Tour professional circuit and will continue to do so, but ventured over to the B.A.S.S. organization for additional opportunities and to possibly pick up new sponsors.
“I want to keep my options on the sponsor market open,” he said.
Another reason for delving into B.A.S.S. tournaments, Pirch added, is the organization “has the potential to come out West” to host tournaments which he could enter that are closer to home.
Next up for the Rim Country angler is the WON Bass Pro-am at Lake Havasu, an FLW Everstart tournament at Lake Havasu and FLW Tour Major tournaments in Georgia and Missouri.
Of course he also hopes to qualify for the granddaddy of all FLW tournaments — Forrest Wood Cup to be held this summer at Lake Lanier, Ga.
On the B.A.S.S. circuit he will enter Northern Opens at James River, Va. and Lake Cayuga, N.Y. and the Southern Open next fall at Lake Lewis Smith, Ala.
Pirch is coming off a banner 2011 season in which he pocketed prize money in 12 of the 14 tournaments he fished.
His biggest win during the year, and maybe the most significant of his career, was an FLW Tour first-place finish in April on Lake Chickamauga, Tenn.
During the course of the three-day tournament, the pro weighed in a winning catch of 77.3 pounds.
While Pirch’s win, his first in an FLW Tour event was by a considerable margin, the battle for first place was up for grabs from the tournament’s tip off.
After finishing as runner-up on the second day, Pirch entered the final day of the tournament holding a precarious one-pound lead over second-place angler Shinchi Fukae.
Pirch’s five keepers on the fourth day totaled 16 pounds, 10 ounces, which earned him the win over Fukae, who finished 6 pounds, 11 ounces behind.
On the tournament trail, Pirch is sponsored by HPR ammo, Ranger Boats, Lowrance, Roboworm and Typhoon optics.