Arizona Lakes, Arizona Pros – Clifford Pirch Fishes The Big Tournaments


Clifford Pirch
Clifford Pirch

Clifford Pirch is a Payson boy, so when the Wild West Bass Team Championship was held in Payson recently, crowds turned out to cheer him on at the big weigh-in. We’ve known Clifford for years, and he’s taken us out on Roosevelt many times. We always learn something from him.

Now Clifford fishes the big tournaments like Wild West and the Bassmasters Elite series. He’s been the U.S. Open Champ three times! The guy is a stick.

This time of year all the lakes are falling because we all use so much water in the summer. Pirch says that fishing falling water is a “freak deal” — you can’t always go textbook and catch fish. Falling water, says Pirch, backs the fish out to the nearest deep hole — like they’re going down the drain.

Look for the river channel, the dip between two points, etc. They’re not harder to catch, but they are deeper. What he uses depends on the water itself. If deep water really means deep, he’ll use a jig or a worm. But, on a lake where deep means five or six feet, he’ll throw a crankbait or flip a jig to any cover with a hole.

A shaky head jig or a jig with a worm is great for working on the bottom or as a falling bait on dock poles, bridge pilings, etc. But most of the time he just drags and shakes it on the bottom through cover.

Once at Roosevelt the water was dropping, leaving behind a flat covered with rocks. Craws were in those rocks, so as the water dropped, he saw birds all over the exposed flat, eating the craws that were high tailing it to the water.

If the craws escaped the birds, they ran right into the hungry bass who were hanging out right next to the water’s edge. Instead of being driven deep, those bass were right on the edge. That taught Pirch not to get too locked into ideas — now he tries to keep an open mind.

A Westy Worm is a great bait for summer, and Clifford is a heck of a Westy fisherman. A Westy Worm is a worm that is pre-rigged with two hooks — one on a jighead at the front, and one further down with no weight. Traditionally, Westies were made with super floater worms and soft hooks, but now you can get them in all kinds of styles. The key is the two hooks.

To fish a Westy effectively, Pirch recommends a 6-1/2 foot  rod with a soft tip and good backbone.  He looks for good points with deep water on both sides and a nice flat spot somewhere. He’ll hop that Westy right out to where the channels on either side of the point come together.

You don’t have to set the hook really hard with a Westy — just put a lot of pressure on it, and don’t give him any slack. Also, it’s a good idea to get a net — swinging them in over the side on those light hooks can be a heart break in the making.

Clifford is an avid outdoorsman and loves hunting in addition to fishing. He also does guide trips in Arizona, specializing in bass, trout, Coues whitetail deer, mule deer and elk.  You can get more information on the guide trips by going to, then use the contact button.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here