Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., is no stranger to Lake Hartwell. In fact he’s fished in the previous two Bassmaster Classics that have taken place on the Georgia/South Carolina border impoundment. In 2015 and 2018 Pirch finished in 13th place.
Both times. Consistent, yes, but that’s a pattern he’d like to overcome.
Now he’ll have his shot to not only do better than 13th place, but perhaps claim his first victory at the 2019 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell.
“There’s nothing wrong with a 13th-place finish against this crew of anglers, but I want to win one,” Pirch said with fire in his eyes. Arguably one of the most consistent anglers on the top level of the sport, Pirch is overdue for an Elite Series win.
In 2015, he weighed a three-day total of 38 pounds and 2 ounces, then again in 2018 he weighed 41-5. If you’re into math, that translates to a daily average of about 13 1/4 pounds.
“Hartwell is a very consistent lake,” he said. “Once you’ve defined a pattern, you can pretty much run it anywhere. And the size of the bass is very similar too. Here a limit of 3-pounders will go a long ways. I really think if a guy can catch a big bag pushing 17 to 19 pounds and keep an average of 15 to 16 pounds the other three days he could pretty easily win.”
Again, if you’re into math, that puts a four-day total around 64 to 65 pounds for the win — bumping the daily average up to just over 16 pounds.
That means Pirch will have to increase his daily average on Hartwell by about 3 pounds. And you can comfortably bet he’s more than capable.
Pirch is a renowned clear-water angler, and he’s as good as they come with finesse gear — especially when spotted bass are on the menu. But will finesse be the ticket this week? He’s not so sure.
“There will be fish caught deep, and that maybe the most consistent thing going as the bass are transitioning in shallow to spawn,” he said. “But with some big females still on beds, the shallow-water, sight-fishing game will play here, but not likely all four days.
“The champion is going to need a few fish at or exceeding 5 pounds,” he said. “And I can assure you, they swim here, and they will be caught this week.”