Gila County anglers were well represented when the top-10 finishers at the AllStar Bass Invitational Tournament were announced last week.
The husband-and-wife team of Patty and Harold Rodriguez easily won the tourney championship by weighing in 18.06 pounds, which included a 5.85-pound lunker. For the win, the two picked up cash and prizes totaling $3,645.
In fifth place was the team of Clifford Pirch of Tonto Basin and Preston Mercer now of Flagstaff. Both are Payson High School graduates and former athletic stars at the school.
The irony in the team's finish was that Pirch had to fish the tournament alone because Mercer, a longtime friend, was involved in a job interview.
Despite not having a partner, Pirch weighed in a six-fish limit of 14.66 pounds, which included a 5.25 pounder. For his effort he earned $600.
Pirch, the owner of Copperstate Guide Services in Tonto Basin, said most of his catch was in the east end of the lake caught with topwater baits. The fish, he said, were mostly in the post-spawn. Pirch is sponsored by Intermountain West Civil Constructions and Hill and Sons Marine and Western Unlimited Design.
The winning Chavez family fished buzzbaits, poppers and Carolina-rigged lizards around the lake. The Chavez family is sponsored by Roosevelt Lake Resort, Equalizer Scales and Press-Ur-Bite Lures.
According to AllStar spokesman Tom Stiles, the tournament drew 206 anglers that weighed in 536 bass including 76 limits. The average catch per fish weighed 1.53 pounds.
The next AllStar Bass team invitational is scheduled for Saturday, June 3 at Roosevelt Lake. Call (480) 890-2547 for more information.