Last summer, the biggest worry among local fishermen was whether runoff from the Rodeo-Chediski fires would permanently damage the waters of Roosevelt Lake.
At one time, some biologists were predicting fishing would suffer an irreversible blow from the soot and ash that was bound to flow into the highly popular lake.
But it has been more than three months since the Rodeo-Chediski wreaked havoc on Arizona forests, and anglers see little visible damage to the lake.
Local angling pro, licensed guide and Payson Roundup columnist Clifford Pirch, says fishing at Roosevelt is as good as ever. He expects those conditions to continue throughout the winter.
No other lake in the Salt River chain was rated better by Pirch.
An ideal time to catch a limit of bass, or an ice chest full of those good-tasting crappie, could be October and November.
Pirch attributes good fall fishing conditions to weather changes.
"The upper couple feet of water start to cool off at night," he said. "That starts to bring some of the fish that have been deep all summer into the shallows."
With the fish lingering in the shallower water, anglers usually enjoy much more fishing action.
Later in the fall when the upper layers cool even more, fishing continues to improve, Pirch said.
As the fish migrate to different depths to take advantage of the changing temperatures, anglers must change their lures for best results.
A popular October option for many anglers is spinnerbaits.
Pirch often opts for those lures because they can be fished from one to 25 feet depth effectively.
In November, when the weather cools even more, Pirch recommends buzzbaits.
"It's a topwater lure and it covers a lot of water quickly, which helps you locate the fish," he said.
Crankbaits, which are designed to dive to various depths, are another lure that Pirch finds successful during the fall.
When crankbaits are purchased, it usually states on the box which depth (8 to 10 feet) the lure is designed for.
The fisherman's challenge is to determine at what depth the fish are located.
A jigging spoon, which simulates the thread-fin shad, is another good fishing option. Shad are a favorite food of bass.
Pirch's strategy is to give the spoon a slight jerk, then let it fall, which simulates a fish that's injured or dying. The bass, he said, like to swim under schools of shad looking for food. When the lure comes down through a school, fishing action usually picks up.
When searching for favorite spots on the lake to try your luck, Pirch recommends areas where the shore shoots out into the water to form points.
Such points, he said, are a good place to catch fish while they feed. Bass also use the points as travel routes when they move from deep to shallow water.
One of Pirch's strategies is to troll along the shallows to locate the fish. When the water cools, he searches the coves where the fish often move.
Pirch's column, "Fish and Tips," and up-to-date fishing reports are published in each Friday's edition of the Roundup.
To go fishing with Pirch, call (928) 978-3518. Or, you can e-mail him at email@example.com