"If I had one tournament to fish for the rest of my life, it would be the U.S. Open." these are the words Rick Clunn just stated recently on Bassfan.com. The tournament is a unique test of both skills and endurance as it is held in the middle of the desert outside of Las Vegas, NV. Clifford Pirch just won his second title (he also won in 2007). The win put him among other multiple winners like Aaron Martens, Byron Velvick, Mike Folkestad, John Murray, Rick Clunn. That is pretty good company.
Rick Clunn went on to say how even the Bassmaster Classic "isn't what it used to be because guys are getting so much help in that tournament and on the Elite Series. You can't get that kind of help on Lake Mead - you've got to do it yourself. 'It's the toughest tournament there's ever been and the toughest there ever will be. In my mind, you cannot say you're the best until you've won a U.S. Open in July, August or September.'"
I had the chance to talk with Cliff after his recent win and learned a little more about how he did it.
TB: First off, congrats on the win! I'm sorry that it was overshadowed by some other things that happened during the event.
CP: Thank you.
TB: What was your strategy going into the event?
CP: The Open is such a fun event. There are no points to worry about or anything, so I felt really relaxed. A limit just doesn't cut it on Mead. I spent the entire time just looking for quality bites.
TB: As tournament fishermen, we learn something every time we enter a tournament. What did you learn from this event?
CP: I found a couple of new spots during the tournament that produced some fish and decided to stick with them. I rolled with the changes. Sometimes it is best to just throw what you think you know out the window.
TB: What were your go-to baits during the event?
CP: I threw a bunch of different things during the tournament. Lake Mead is a great drop-shot lake, so I threw a bunch of Robo's. I also caught them on topwater, a crankbait and a spinnerbait.
TB: How did you like the tournament in July instead of September like it is traditionally held?
CP: I liked it better in September just because it is a little coloer, but the fishing was really good in July. Most of the lakes I go to, July is a bad time because the water is so stagnant, but the fishing was actually pretty good on Mead.
TB: I grew up fishing Lake Mead and am glad to see it is on the rebound. Some things have changed with the lake since I have been there, like the increase in the Smallmouth population and the Quagga (zebra) mussels. How did these affect you?
CP: I didn't weigh in any smallmouths. All of the ones I caught in the tournament were small and I culled them. I did catch a big one in practice. The zebra mussels weren't that big of a deal. They didn't cut my line on fish or anything, but sometimes your line would get nicked.
TB: The Forrest Wood Cup is coming up at Lake Lanier in Georgia. Have you ever been there?
CP: I spent a little time there earlier this year, but didn't do much fishing. I basically just spent the time driving around and getting to know the place. I am really looking forward to the event.
I decided not to talk too much about the cheating scandal with Cliff because I didn't want to take away from his accomplishments. Winning one U.S. Open is a huge deal, but winning it again has made Clifford a true Western Bass Legend. Congrats again Cliff!