BUFFALO, N.Y. — Paul Hirosky keeps his Pennsylvania pharmacy license active just in case. But if the effervescent Guys Mills, Pa., native keeps fishing the way he did at the Empire Chase presented by Mahindra Tractors, he won't have to worry about doling out medicine ever again.
Hirosky finished the tournament in eighth place with a 16-pound, 7-ounce stringer Sunday, which gave him his best Elite Series finish this year to date. His final day numbers were down despite the fact that he returned to many of the same holes that gave put him the final 12.
"I still had a bunch of water to hit further down the lake," Hirosky said in his thick Pittsburg accent. "But they weren't there either."
Hirosky and the other tournament anglers experienced hearty stringers, high winds and jaw-jolting surf on Lake Erie on Day One, but he led with 21-11.
After conditions worsened Friday, BASS officials cancelled Day Two to let the winds settle.
When the bad weather finally relented, Hirosky and his fellow anglers were back at it again Saturday. Arriving at the marina with a couple dead fish, his 19-14 stringer dropped him into third place.
On Sunday morning before the launch, Paul's identical twin brother, Robert, visited the launch site, donning his brother's signature Channellock cap complete with its stitched Paul Hirosky name.
Once the twin stepped onto the dock, photographers and reporters began to swarm Robert. After a few questions to the practicing pharmacist, Robert then explained he was Paul's twin and was just coming down to offer his brother good luck. Heavy laughter ensued.
"That's really the funniest thing, when people don't know that we're twins," Paul said. "And you can only imagine the looks I get when I'm dating someone and she sees Bobby out with his wife."
But what would happen in the event that Paul was too sick or too injured to fish?
"Who's to say the ol' switcheroo hasn't happened already?" Robert responded, smiling.
Despite his final day's struggles to find big fish, Paul learned early to never give up, especially on tough days on the water. When both boys were young, their father, Robert Paul Hirosky, a deputy fire chief for the city of Pittsburgh, bought a place in rural western Pennsylvania for the family to fish and relax.
It was there in pastoral Crawford County that Paul sharpened his tools to eventually become an Elite Series pro. The boys would fish anything they could, including nearby Lake Erie, even if they had to sneak out to local Woodcock Lake. Soon both Hirosky boys learned they had a gift.
"We started winning local buddy tournaments all the time," Robert said.
"There was a local trout stream not far from our home," the family's patriarch said. "When I'd go pick them up about a mile downstream, they'd have to walk along the road with their stringers. And man, those anglers who weren't catching anything sure were jealous, some even mad!"
Many times the entire family would hold tournaments of their own with mother Marilyn occasionally getting in on the action.
"Mom was good," Paul said, "but we were better.
"We logged everything — personal bests, biggest fish, most fish."
But surprisingly, Paul and his brother were never competitive with each other.
"He's the one who can't sleep before my tournament." Paul said. "Not me."
It was this kind of family support that led the entire Hirosky clan to drive up from their home and line the front row of Sunday's final weigh-in under the warm Buffalo sun.
"Just look at this support," Hirosky exclaimed from the weigh-in stage. Beaming with pride and excitement, Paul's 8 year-old daughter, Madison, lead the charge, covered in Channellock's bright blue garb.
"Both those boys have brought us nothing but joy," Robert said. "I still have Paul's first musky still mounted on the wall."
And Paul's mother was just as proud on Sunday as the day she learned both her sons were accepted into the University of Pittsburgh's Pharmacy Department. "Oh, he's just No. 1," Marilyn said, then quickly pausing. "Actually, they're both No. 1."
With such a promising future in the Elite Series, Paul Hirosky will certainly find himself as number one soon if he keeps giving fish the treatment like he did here at the Empire Chase.