Rim country anglers are dominating the bass tournament fishing circuit.
At an AllStar Summer Nights team tournament June 26 at Roosevelt Lake, Clifford Pirch and Ty Goodman hooked up to win first place and $1,950 in prize money. In the final event of the 2004 BestBet Aluminum Boat team fishing season also at Roosevelt, Ray Purtill and Buddy Randall both of Pine claimed first place and $3,132.
Another Pine team, Jake Randall and Don Hargrave, finished third and earned $1,605.
For Pirch and Goodman, both former standout athletes at Payson High School, the tournament victory was in doubt until the final five minutes of the fray when Pirch hooked a 4.88 pounder that earned the team "Big Fish" honors.
Pirch caught the large mouth on a top water lure. The team weighed in a six-fish limit of 11.85 pounds that was about two pounds greater than the limit caught by the runner-up team of Sam Schattenberg and Keith Espe of Scottsdale.
Fishing from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Pirch and Goodman hooked a four-pounder just before dark then suffered through a lull during the night hours.
"We could have gone to sleep and maybe still have won it," Pirch said.
Fishing was so slow the two decided to beach the boat and catch a quick nap.
"I was sleeping and woke up because a fish was crawling on me," Goodman said.
The fish was a bass Pirch was boating after waking up about 4 a.m. to return to fishing.
The Payson pair fished Texas-rigged worms and topwater lures on points in the Tonto Creek arm and main lake.
Pirch, a professional angler and licensed guide, said tournament fishing at Roosevelt was doubly tough because of the 13- to 16-inch slot limit.
"The way it works is a 12-inch bass is better than a 15-incher at Roosevelt," he said. "You have to throw the 15-incher back; its different than tournaments at other lakes."
The proper tournament strategy, he said, is to fish for the "overs" and "unders" -- those outside the slot limit.
Just four days prior to winning the AllStar showdown, Pirch and Goodman fished their way to first place in a 15-boat locals-only tournament at Roosevelt.
Pirch will continue to fish the local tournaments, especially ones at Apache Lake, before returning to the professional ranks next September at the U.S. Open.
Pine teams roll
In winning the BestBet Aluminum Boat tournament, Purtill and Randall weighed in a six-fish limit that weighed 17.08 pounds. The Pine duo also won the big fish award by catching a 5.29-pound lunker.
According to AllStar officials, the two fished Carolina-rigged lizards and drop-shot rigs on submerged humps in 25 to 30 feet of water around Mystery Island. Their big bass was hooked on a Carolina-rig.
Randall and Hargrave weighed in 9.22 pounds by fishing drop-shot and Texas rigged worms around Bass Point and the dam.
For more information on AllStar or BestBet, call (480) 894-2775