The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 31, 2013

From catching criminals to catching fish

Bill Pioch living out his dreams on the lake as professional fisherman

By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer

— When you’ve spent 16 years protecting the public, you probably deserve a little time on the lake. But in the case of William “Bill” Pioch, going from catching criminals to catching fish isn’t as much a leisure activity as it is thrilling competition — and his newest profession.

Pioch is currently competing in The Bass Federation and over the weekend qualified for the B.A.S.S. National Tournament in Arkansas in October.

“If you do the best out of your state, you get to go on,” Pioch said. “It’s broken down into regions. We’re in he Mid-Atlantic, which includes Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.”

Pioch qualified for the nationals by placing ninth in the Mid-Atlantic Divisional Tournament, held last week on Lake Erie in Erie, Pa.

However, Pioch wasn’t quite content with a Top 10 finish. He was in first place heading into day three on the lake.

“On the second day, I was paired up with a person from Delaware and we were fishing in a good hole,” Pioch said. “On day three, a lot of his guys from Delaware were fishing in that hole so I had to move on.

“The fish had moved. There was too much fishing pressure,” he added. “It took me a while to figure out where they were, but I had two that were right at five pounds a piece hooked but they came off.”

If Pioch had been able to reel in those two, he would have been able to continue his lead into the final day.

“I was able to use my electronics and find a school of fish,” he said. “But I had to fish with 10 minutes left. There wasn’t enough time before we had to take off and get back to the dock.”

Pioch grew up in Coal River and graduated from Marsh Fork High School in 1986, before going to Concord College and eventually going to work for the West Virginia State Police. After retiring, Pioch started Cyber Security, a business he owns that installs security cameras. But it’s fishing that he’s truly passionate about.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “You’re up here fishing against people that are pros. You watched them on TV when you were growing up.”

Pioch grew up fishing on the Coal River, Lake Stephens and Summersville Lake, but this weekend he’ll be in Syracuse, N.Y., fishing Oneida Lake at the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open.

“It’s made up of 170 pros and 170 co-anglers,” Pioch said. “Basically, it’s a five fish limit. After two days, the 10 heaviest go on and move on to the final day. The overall winner will get a new boat, priced at about $60,000.”

Pioch, who drives a Triton boat with a Mercury Motor and Lowrench electronics, plans to sell the boat if he wins.

“That’s a problem I’m willing to have,” he said with a laugh.

The Bass Pro Shops Northern Open will run August 1-3 and weigh-ins will be broadcast live on

— E-mail: jrollins and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.