Clifford Pirch got off to a slow start and wasn’t able to make up for it enough on the second day to earn a spot on the water for the final day in the Bassmaster Classic in Alabama on March 6-8.

The Payson professional angler just couldn’t overcome a difficult opening day on Lake Guntersville. Hank Cherry Jr. won the 50th annual Bassmaster Classic, the Supr Bowl of fishing.

He finished with 16 pounds 8 ounces of fish in two days, which ranks 42nd among 53 anglers.

He snagged just one fish weighing 3 pounds 4 ounces on day one.

“Yeah, I kind of had a big hole to dig out of after day one,” he said. “I had some really big fish in practice throwing a big bait so I committed to it. The classic is one event that you gamble a little more and there are no points involved for the season. The bite had been better late in the day so I just stuck with it. The conditions were post frontal with a 25 mph north wind, so it wasn’t optimal to move around and experiment much.”

He caught five fish weighing 13 pounds 4 ounces on day two, which netted him $10,000.

“I ended up catching quite a few more fish on day two flipping docks with a jig,” he said. “The big swimbait kind of went away on me.”

He said the Cornavirus didn’t stop lots of people from showing up in Birmingham for the tournament and the expo surrounding it.

“The attendance was actually pretty good considering what’s going on with the Corona virus,” he said. “But I think if it had been three or four days later we might have seen significantly lower numbers of fans.”

Next on the schedule was a March 19-22 Bassmaster Elite tournament at Chickamauga Lake in Tenn. It’s another world class fishery that Pirch has had success on in the past.

However, it’s been postponed because of public health concerns surrounding the Coronavirus.

It’s unclear when the season will continue.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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