Arizona Lakes, Arizona Pros – Roosevelt With Clifford Pirch

May Is A Great Time To Fish Roosevelt

Arizona Lakes, Arizona Pros – Roosevelt With Clifford Pirch
Clifford Pirch

You may be familiar with Clifford Pirch if you follow the big tournament circuits like Bassmaster and the like, but Clifford is a Payson boy, and we fished with him quite a bit back in the day. He used to fish All Star Bass and he must have a couple dozen trophies from that circuit tucked away somewhere.

Clifford has fished for most of his life, and he started guiding on Roosevelt, Bartlett, and Apache, then fished tournaments on weekends. We went to Roosevelt with Clifford one May. Here’s how he fished it.

Tries Reaction Baits First

We started out in the back of a cove throwing topwater and spinnerbaits first thing in the morning. While we fished, he told us about how he had gotten fifth place at a recent tournament on Pleasant — he fished the lower end of the lake with a Castaic Minnow (soft jerk bait) and a YoZuriHydro Popper topwater popping bait. The Castaic minnow runs really shallow, and he said that during the tournament his bass spit up 6-inch shad in the livewell.

Meanwhile, there didn’t seem to be much going on in the cove we were in at Rosey, so he moved to some main lake type stuff  — more flat areas. He switched to a small jerkbait. “I usually try reaction baits first,” Pirch said. “I’m not one to sit on a hump or a channel all day unless I have to.”

Depends On The Fish

Which reaction bait he sticks with depends on the fish. He’ll try a spinnerbait and a crankbait to see what works. Buzzbaits are his favorite lure – they tend to get bigger bites. Soon we were on the move again. He seems to spend about fifteen minutes on a spot before giving up on it. Fish were jumping all around us but we weren’t getting bit.

We tried buzzbaits, poppers, and Sauvé’s(Lobina Lures) near the dam under the bridge and across, but nothing.

Sight Fishing

Soon we were cruising around looking for fish on beds and saw a few small one. John caught a fish on a spinnerbait near the curve at the mouth of the bridge cove. Clifford started sight fishing with a chartreuse Zipper Worm.

Chartreuse is a good sight fishing bait because it is more important for the angler to see the bait, Pirch says. When it disappears, you know a fish picked it up, even if you don’t see the fish. Pirch is very good at sight fishing and put several in the boat, while talking to us about Roosevelt in summer.

In July Bass Will School

In July, bass will be schooling and feeding on shad. Look for a topwater bite early and fish a lot of outside points and humps. Also spoons at any depth. He likes Hopkins spoons and tries to use a spoon the same length as the shad. He just rips it up and down and it really works on suspended bass. Look at a map of the lake and find a long point that comes way out in the lake. That’s great summer structure.

We moved out into the Haystack area at this point and started fishing Westy Worms — the light heads. He says he’ll switch to split-shotting if he has to, just to fill out a limit, but prefers to use things like buzzbaits and jigs for a better chance at big fish. Flat areas with lots of tumbled rocks and small smooth channels all over the place hold lots of fish, and they’ll move up and down those channels to get from deep to shallow. They are a great place to swim a jig.

Too Hot? Go At Night.

Start with reaction baits and catch all you can until the bite dies. Don’t spend too much time on a spot before moving on if it isn’t producing. If the reaction bite dies, look for structure and start throwing worms or jigs. May is a great time to go to Roosevelt Lake. If it gets too hot, go at night. Just go.

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