Payson pro angler Clifford Pirch caught the big fish of the tournament when he snagged a 9-pound 13-ounce bass in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite Tournament at Lake Fork in Texas April 22-25.
The lunker was nearly half of his 21-15 limit for the second day of the tournament.
He caught 51 pounds 11 ounces of fish for the tournament to finish 36th.
The largest bass of the tournament earned him a $2,000 bonus on top of the $10,000 he brought home for his top-40 finish. A total of 75 anglers earned cash in the tournament.
Pirch started slow, ranking 80th after the first day with a five-fish limit weighing 13 pounds 5 ounces before the big fish helped him jump up to 44th place with a five-fish limit weighing 21-5 the second day. His five fish on day three weighed 17-1, leaving him 36th and out of the top 10 fishing on the final day. The cutoff to fish the final round was 62 pounds 4 ounces.
The tournament represented a milestone for the former Payson High School athletic standout. It was his 100th Bassmaster Elite tournament. He came close to finishing in the top 30, which he’s done 42 times.
Pirch is a seven-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.
Pirch has cashed in all five Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments he’s competed in this season. This was his second-highest finish behind his 24th-place showing ($10,000) with 28 pounds 1 ounce of fish on the Tennessee River on Feb. 25-28. This was his heaviest total, topping the 40 pounds 4 ounces he bagged in a 45th-place finish on Pickwick Lake near Florence, Ala. On March 20-23.
He finished 52nd (21 pounds 11 ounces, $2,500) in the first tournament at the St. Johns River in Florida on Feb. 11-14.
He leaves Texas feeling better about the state’s fishing conditions. He was coming off his lowest finish of the season, placing 74th (10-10) on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas on April 8-11.
He’ll look to snag more big fish in the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite Tournament at Neely Henry Lake in Alabama on May 6-9.