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Sports

Pittsburgh native making run at pro fishing career

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006

Paul Hirosky is living his dream.

A 36-year-old Pittsburgh native who graduated from Taylor Alderdice High School and the University of Pittsburgh, he's spent the past decade working as a pharmacist. Beginning this year, though, he's changing gears. Hirosky is embarking on a second career as a professional bass fisherman.

He'll be fishing 11 tournaments in BASS' new Elite Series, as well as in five opens on the Northern tour. That means he'll be going up against the likes of defending Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam, past champions like Mike Iaconelli, and the other big names of the sport on a regular basis.

"God, five years ago I would have been asking those guys for their autographs. Now I'm going to be competing against them," Hirosky said. "Sometimes I have to pinch myself. It's just a really, really exciting time for me."

Hirosky, who lives in Guys Mills, Crawford County these days, decided to make the jump to pro fishing last fall, after winning the 2005 BASS Northern Open Championship. That tournament was held on the Sandusky, Ohio, portion of Lake Erie.

Hirosky credits his win there to his use of drop shooting for smallmouth bass. It's a technique he'll be discussing with area sportsmen later this month when he gives a couple of seminars at the 21st annual Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show, which is set for the Pittsburgh Expomart Feb. 15-19.

Drop shooting originated in Japan and eventually made its way to the west coast of the United States, where it was popularized by such professionals as Aaron Martens. Martens did a lot of drop shooting last summer in finishing second in the Bassmaster Classic held on Pittsburgh's rivers.

Simply put, the technique involves putting a small weight 18-24 inches below your lure or bait, Hirosky said. That keeps it off the bottom and in front of fish.

"It's a fairly new technique that's really come on the last couple of years," Hirosky said. "It's a finesse tactic that uses light line and smaller baits.

"The weight stays on the bottom, but the bait stays up. It's especially effective when the fishing gets pretty tough. It puts the bait right in front of a fish's face and makes him more willing to bite when he's otherwise turned off."

Hirosky has used drop shooting to win several tournaments, and plans to make it a large part of his arsenal this year, his first as a full-time fisherman. He's optimistic he'll do well. He's got three main sponsors, Channel Lock Tools, a Crawford County-based manufacturer, Mercury Motors, and Gambler Bass Boats, supporting him.

Most of all, though, he's got his own determination to do well.

"I had some success last year, and I'm hoping to carry that over this year. I'm definitely going to work at it. I'm going to be going non-stop from March through October," he said.

If you're going

The Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show will be held at the Pittsburgh Expomart in Monroeville Wednesday through Sunday, Feb. 15 to 19. Show hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16, noon to 9 p.m. Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 18, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 19.

Admission is $7.95 for adults 12 and older and free to children 11 and younger with a paying adult. Coupons good for $1 off the price of admission are available at participating McDonald's and at stores that sell Iron City Beer. Parking is free.

Hirosky is scheduled to speak about drop shooting for Lake Erie smallmouths on stage three at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 19.

A number of other speakers will also participate in the show. Keith Eshbaugh, a professional walleye angler from Washington County, will do several seminars, as will local steelhead expert John Bodnar. The Audubon Society if Western Pennsylvania has several birds of prey events on the schedule, while Venture Outdoors will run an area specifically for children. Beth Fife, a wildlife conservation officer in Allegheny County for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, will do a seminar on how to field dress deer. The Allegheny County Sportsmen's league will run its indoor trout pond, too.

For information about the show, including a schedule of when seminars will be held, call 1-800-600-0307 or visit www.sportandtravel.com/pittsburgh .

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