A day-long fishing outing with local guide Clifford Pirch turned into an outdoor adventure my two sons and I will cherish for a long time to come.
Last week after spending a day quail hunting on the San Carlos reservation south of Globe Gerry, Ryan and I hooked up with Clifford at the marina store near Lake Roosevelt.
We knew quail hunting was not going to be very good this fall, so we decided to split our usual two-day outing in half by spending the final day fishing with Clifford.
I warned Clifford also a professional angler and Roundup columnist that none of us had much lake fishing experience. I knew he'd have his hands full teaching us the nuances of the sport.
Launching Clifford's fully equipped, state of the art bass boat was a simple operation that he performed single-handedly.
Aboard the boat, Clifford told us he had a bass fishing hot spot in mind that was about three miles away.
By pushing the accelerator about three-fourths of the way forward, Clifford had the boat skipping over the churning waters.
I don't know exactly how fast we were traveling. The speedometer wasn't working, but I'm certain it's the fastest I ever traveled on water.
Watching the shores of Roosevelt lake fly by, I heard Clifford ask Gerry if he wanted to 'go really fast.'
Wow, I thought, can we go faster than this?
We sure did.
Clifford opened the accelerator full bore and we were off on what might best be described as a low altitude flight by boat rather than airplane.
Later, while massaging blood back into my white knuckles that had helped me cling to a dashboard handle, I listened to Clifford explain the fishing techniques for the day.
Gerry, Ryan and I all fished Robo Worms while Clifford opted for crank baits.
His directions were for us to bob the worms off the bottom on the lake to try to lure bass.
With his fish finder, a trolling motor and a depth gage, he was usually able to keep the boat near a school of fish.
Gerry's line had been in the water only a few minutes when he hauled in a largemouth that had to be returned to the water because it measured in the slot limit.
Being the professional he is, Clifford is careful to obey all the slot limit rules. Although he practices catch and release, he knew we wanted a few bass to take home for a family fish fry we were planning.
Catching fish outside the slot proved no problem and we were boating fish every few minutes.
Because fishing was so good in the spot where Clifford had first guided us, we didn't move most of the day.
Rendering the fishing hours so very enjoyable was the fact the weather was perfect and the lake uncrowded.
I've known Clifford for about 15 years and always thought of him as a very quiet person.
But on the lake and engaged in his fishing passion, he turns into a man eager to share his love for the sport.
There wasn't a question we asked, that he didn't have an answer for.
Finally, after almost catching our limits (six bass each), Clifford decided to take us to another spot where we might find crappies, on which there is no limit.
I was excited about that. To my way of thinking, properly prepared and cooked crappie make a mouth-watering main course.
At our crappie hole, Gerry continued to fish with a Robo and surprisingly caught the largest crappie of the day.
We did, however, switch to small grubs and were able to fill the live well with nice-sized crappies.
Late in the afternoon, Clifford fired up the 225-horsepower motor and we were off on another white-knuckle ride back to the marina.
After trailering the boat, Clifford helped us pack the fish in an ice chest and expertly explained the proper methods of filleting the fish for cooking.
On the drive home, Gerry, Ryan and I reveled in what we considered was the perfect fall outdoor adventure.
Considering the low quail numbers due to the draught, it was much more enjoyable and challenging than the small game hunting we have enjoyed most of our lives.
After spending the day fishing with Clifford, I now know why he harbors a fervor for the sport.
Pirch's column is Fish & Tips and it appears weekly in the Friday edition of the Roundup.
Pirch also offers tours to sportsmen. He can be contacted at 978-3518 for more information.