The One That Got Away

Mesa pro scratches out narrow win

Clifford Pirch, of Payson, missed the winning weigh-in by just .26 of a pound when one of his bass died. However, Pirch was the May 5-6 WON tourney’s  big-fish winner with the largest of these lunkers at 6.31 pounds.

Clifford Pirch, of Payson, missed the winning weigh-in by just .26 of a pound when one of his bass died. However, Pirch was the May 5-6 WON tourney’s big-fish winner with the largest of these lunkers at 6.31 pounds.

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Dean Kruezer, a fishing pro from Mesa, is getting accustomed to nail-biting, post-tournament weigh-ins.

In 2011 following a Western Outdoor News (WON) tournament at Roosevelt Lake, he was second in the pro ranks with a 10-limit catch that was just .48 of a pound lighter than that of winner John Murray of Phoenix.

Close, but no cigar.

In Kruezer’s second attempt at WON tournament fishing, May 5 and 6 at Roosevelt, the Mesa fisherman was again involved in a narrow finish.

This time, however, he took first, edging Payson’s Clifford Pirch, the runner-up, by just .26 of a pound.

This time, a cigar.

Pirch, however, would have been the winner had one of his 10 bass not died, leaving him with just nine fish and also inflicting a .20 penalty.

Kruezer was officially credited with 31.40 pounds and Pirch’s catch tipped the scales 31.14.

Pirch did, however, weigh in two lunkers, the largest of which weighed 6.31 pounds and was the tournament’s big fish winner.

John Browning and Buddy Randall also represented Payson in the tournament’s pro ranks that drew 46 entrants.

Browning was 28th with 19.79 pounds and Randall took 45th with 15.98 pounds.

Among the AAA, or amateur anglers, Payson’s Josh Petrucci was 13th with nine fish that weighed 22.79 pounds. He also incurred a .20 penalty for a dead fish, as did numerous other anglers. In fact, three fishermen were penalized .80 pounds for four dead fish.

Also in the AAA division, Keith Hunsinger was 21st with 20.88 pounds and Cameron Geske close behind in 22nd with 20.61 pounds.

Tracy Purtee caught 18.26 pounds and was 36th and Kyle Randall was 43rd at 17.08.

Purtee, the WON Arizona tournament director and the host of the Let’s Talk Fishin’ radio show, says the fishing at Roosevelt during tournament days, “was awesome, but most of the fish were smaller ones.”

He also experienced some tough luck, just missing on a couple of fourpounders that would have moved him up in the standings.

The final WON Arizona circuit tournament will be held May 19 at Apache Lake.

For more information, call Purtee at (928) 978-3659.

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