Bassmaster Open anglers collect bonuses

A couple tanks of fuel, a spree at a tackle shop, eating better on the road. No matter how they spend it, an unexpected $200 comes in handy for any tournament angler.

Courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), two pros collected an extra $200 each during the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on the Harris Chain of Lakes. The bonuses were awarded to Cliff Pirch of Payson, Ariz., and Danny White of Milledgeville, Ga., for reporting catches of Harris bass that had been tagged for a state fisheries study.

To collect the bonuses, the anglers had to produce the tags and provide a few details about their catches. They weren’t required to bring in the fish.

Pirch culled his. He clipped the tag before he released the largemouth, which he estimated weighed 2 1/2 pounds.

“I was flipping into holes, going for bedding bass, when I caught that one. I soon culled it and let it go in the same area it came from,” Pirch said.

He said the tagged largemouth came from Lake Griffin on the final day of the tournament. By the end of the day, he had bagged 18 pounds, 11 ounces, for a 58-1 tournament total and a second-place finish behind hard-to-beat Chris Lane, who amassed 72-11 over three days. Pirch is a seasoned pro who rejoined the Bassmaster Open circuit this year, with an eye on earning an invitation to the Bassmaster Elite Series.

White said he boated his tagged bass in Griffin on the first day of the tournament. The 4-pounder was a keeper for him.

“My co-angler netted it, and it was obviously a good weight, so I got it into the livewell right away. To be honest, I didn’t notice the tag until I was back at the dock, bagging the fish for the weigh-in,” said White, who, like Pirch, marked his return to Bassmaster tournaments with an entry in the Harris Open. White qualified for the Elite Series during its inception in 2006, but bowed out for a multitude of personal reasons.

More bass with tags still swim in the Harris Chain, and the tagging study continues. The information gathered will be used to improve the chain’s largemouth bass fishery.

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