A trio of Rim Country anglers will join professional and amateurs from around the West to test their skills in the Western Outdoor News (WON) Pro Circuit tournament on May 4-5 at Roosevelt Lake.
Locals Robert O’Donnell, Buddy Randall and Keith Hunsaker are expected to participate. All three are frequent competitors on the bass fishing tournament circuit.
The WON tournament format to be used in the upcoming tournament differs from the FLW set-up with which most locals are familiar.
WON Bass Arizona Tournament Director Tracy Purtee explains, “The tournament is shared weight for the co-angler and pro each day for five fish and partners are different each day.”
The pros pay an entry fee of $500 and the co-anglers, or “AAA” as they are called on the WON circuit, cough up $250 to enter.
The payouts, however, are healthy, with the winning pro pocketing $11,000 and the top AAA finisher earning $2,500.
The tournament marks the third consecutive year WON has hosted a Pro-Am fray at Roosevelt Lake.
Last year’s WON Pro-Am at Roosevelt turned into a toe-to-toe free-for-all between Payson hometown angler Clifford Pirch and Mesa pro Dean Kruezer who was participating in his second consecutive WON tournament at Roosevelt.
After finishing as silver medalist at a WON Roosevelt tournament a year earlier, Kruezer took first, edging Pirch, the runner-up, by just .26 of a pound.
Pirch, however, would have been the winner had not one of his 10 bass died, leaving him with just nine fish and also inflicting a .20 penalty. As Phoenix Suns announcer Al McCoy might say in such a situation, “Heartbreak Hotel.”
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.
Purtee is predicating the upcoming tournament could turn into another such barnburner mostly because the field includes many top-notch anglers familiar with Roosevelt’s waters.