Pro angler Clifford Pirch’s decision to accept an invitation to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series appears to be paying big dividends.
The rewards include a top-50 BassFan world ranking, a second-place standing in the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race and a top 25 ranking in the circuit’s Angler of the Year competition.
Although he’s doing well in the high profile Bassmaster tournaments, he was also successful on the FLW tournament trail, qualifying five times for the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup and winning the 2011 Chickamauga FLW Tour Major.
The invitation to fish the Bassmaster circuit was extended after he finished second in this year’s Northern Open tournament.
Most recently on the Bassmaster tour, Pirch — a former Payson High School three-sport star — fished to an eighth-place finish in the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River rumble.
In fishing the river over the course of four days, Pirch boated a five-fish limit each day that totaled 55 pounds, 11 ounces and was worth $12,500 in prize money.
In the fray, the Payson angler was nearly a model of consistency, weighing in 14 pounds, 11 ounces on days one and three and 14 pounds, 9 ounces on day four.
The only glitch in his performance was on day two when he caught 11 pounds 12 ounces.
While Pirch had fished the Mississippi before, it was in the lower reaches where conditions are different than those near La Crosse, Wis. where the Mountain Dew Rumble was held.
There, he had to overcome muddy waters and shifting currents of the Mississippi that made angling unpredictable, at best.
“It was tough fishing at times,” Pirch said.
The shift from FLW to Bassmaster has prompted plenty of questions from the Payson angler’s friends and fellow pros.
He answers by saying, “the decision was driven by the business end of my fishing career.”
He contends fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series will create more media exposure and add to the potential customers and sponsors he can reach.
In Pirch’s leap to Bassmaster from FLW, he was joined by Kevin Hawk and Jason Christie — both established and proven FLW Tour anglers.
While Pirch’s focus is on the Bassmaster circuit, he has not ruled out fishing FLW tournaments when the opportunity presents itself.
While fishing has been Pirch’s passion since his elementary school days, working as a pro does demand extensive travel.
He estimates that in 2012 he traveled a total of 60,826 miles to and from tournaments.
That translates into plenty of exposure for his sponsors, which he says is one of his goals. “I use each opportunity to discuss and promote sponsors who put their trust in me.”
In addition to fishing professionally, Pirch has jump started his own company, Clifford Pirch Outdoors, which manufactures and sells tackle.
Just last week he traveled to Las Vegas to showcase his products at the ICAST convention, which is considered the “World’s Largest Sportfishing Tradeshow.”
While Pirch has four more Bassmaster Elite Tournaments remaining on his 2013 calendar, he also has another upcoming tournament, the Western Outdoor News (WON) U.S. Open — that has been quite good to him in the past.
He’s won the prestigious tournament twice — in 2007 and 2010.
This year, he’ll be looking for a threepeat.