Hirosky accomplishes lifelong dream

CELEBRATION, Fla. — Paul Hirosky enjoys fishing charity tournaments, but the Guys Mills, Pa., angler never thought his participation in one could lead to garnering a big-time sponsorship deal, solidifying the pursuit of his lifelong dream of becoming a professional bass angler.

But not too long ago, opportunity knocked at a Pennsylvania-based charity tournament benefiting the United Way when Hirosky, 36, was randomly paired with Jon DeArment, vice president of manufacturing and engineering for Channellock, Inc., a high-quality pliers and assorted hand-tool manufacturer.

"Jon and I got along really well out on the water," Hirosky said. "I told him about all the new things ESPN and BASS were doing with the sport and he seemed really engaged." Hirosky said he followed up shortly afterwards and his persistence after the chance encounter led to a boat and truck design deal with Channellock for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series season.

The Meadville, Pa., company has been involved in major sports before — namely NASCAR — and DeArment was immediately sold on the evolution of bass fishing as a sport and BASS' premier trail, the Elite Series. "The names of the anglers who are involved in the Elite Series are very impressive," DeArment said. "It's an all-around great opportunity and the more we talked about it, the better it looked."

Hirosky's ascent has been a circuitous one. He graduated from Pittsburgh University in 1997 from the pharmacy program and worked for the drugstore Rite Aid full time until the allure of bass fishing professionally became too powerful to ignore.

He started fishing the Bassmaster Open circuit in 2004 and in July 2005, Hirosky broke through with an Open victory on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio. He eventually finished the season sixth in the Northern Open points standings on the strength of three top-40 finishes, which was enough to qualify for the Elite Series.

Although Hirosky was determined to fish the Elite Series, he still was in need of a sponsor. Channellock, whose headquarters are just minutes away from Hirosky's home, filled the void.

"The Elite Series really sells itself to new sponsors, and it is always exciting bringing new faces like Channellock into our industry," said Hirosky, who finished in 36th place in the Elite Series season-opener, the Battle on the Border presented by Mercury Marine, this past weekend. "There is a huge amount of opportunity and it is so exciting to be involved in."