Cast Your Eyes On Rim Country Lakes


Rim country anglers are fortunate enough to have a prime source they can go to for the latest and best fishing advice.

They simply stop by the Tackle Box in Tonto Basin and spend a few minutes with owners Clifford Pirch and Mark Kile.


Clifford Pirch (pictured) and Mark Kile, owners of the Tackle Box in Tonto Basin, are professional fishermen who can offer expert advice on where to hook the big ones in the Rim country. They have extensive experience fishing the chain of Salt River lakes including Roosevelt south of Tonto Basin.

A third owner, Reese Randall, is an accomplished amateur angler.

Kile and Pirch are professionals who have successfully fished the tournament trail, and are willing to share their secrets of success.

Kile, a four-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier, recently scaled down his national tournament quest to accept a position as regional sales manager for Skeeter Boats.

Pirch learned the nuances of fishing from his father, Dennis, a Payson High School teacher. Friends of Dennis Pirch tell tales of Rim country fishing trips when Clifford was a baby in diapers.

As the tale goes, dad didn't bring along enough diapers and Clifford was in urgent need of a fresh one.

So, dad simply immersed Clifford waist deep in the chilly waters of swiftly flowing stream.

In a matter of seconds, the diaper was swirled clean and dad and friends were ready to return to their fishing.


A day on the lake can net huge rewards for amateur anglers, especially with a little helpful advice from professionals like Payson's own Mark Kile (pictured).

Clifford, now the married father of a young daughter, had one of his finest professional showings at the 2003 EverStart Championships on the Old Hickory river near Nashville, Tenn. During the tournament, Clifford was featured on the Forrest L. Wood Outdoor Life Network.

For his 10th-place finish, he pocketed $5,000 in prize money.

Kile and Pirch are also both licensed guides who have extensive experience fishing the chain of Salt River lakes including Roosevelt, south of Tonto Basin.

Pirch and Kile agreed that some of the best times to catch a limit of bass, or a stringer of those mouth-watering crappie at Roosevelt, can be in October and November. Pirch said banner fall fishing is due to weather changes.

"The upper couple of feet of water starts to cool off at night," Pirch said. "That brings some of the fish that have been deep all summer into the shallows."

Later in the fall, the upper layers of lakes cool even more, Pirch predicts fishing will continue to improve.

A popular fall bait option is spinner baits. According to Pirch, they are effective because they can be fished from one-to-25-feet-deep.

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 locate the fish," he said.

Crankbaits, which are designed to dive to various depths, are another lure Pirch and Kile find successful during the fall. When crankbaits are purchased, it usually states on the box to which depth the lure is designed.

A fisherman's challenge is to determine at what depth the fish are located.

When searching Roosevelt or any other lake for a fishing spot, try areas where the shore forms points in the water. Points, Pirch said, are good places to catch bass while they feed. Bass also use the points as travel routes as they move from deep to shallow water.

Anglers searching for hot fishing spots at higher elevations should try Blue Ridge Reservoir before snow forces the closure of roads and campgrounds. But remember, boat motors are limited to eight horsepower or less.

Other angling options in the fall include Tonto Creek, Knoll Lake, Christopher Creek, Bear Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake and Chevlon Creek.

Green Valley Park

For anglers who don't want to leave town, Green Valley Lake is a popular fishing spot. Throughout the fall and winter, the lake is stocked every two weeks with about 600 pounds of catchable-sized rainbow trout.

All anglers 14 years and older must carry a current Arizona license. No trout stamp is required.

For a Class U, Urban license the fee is $16 for a calendar year.

A Class D one-day-only permit is $8.50. Anglers 70-years-and-older who have lived in Arizona for 25 years may receive a Pioneer license free of charge. Complimentary veteran licenses are also available.

Licenses may be purchased at any Arizona Game and Fish Department office or on their website (www, or at any of the 350 licensed dealers or sporting goods stores statewide.

For those without poles, the Payson Parks and Recreation Department has an ample supply of quality equipment to loan to persons 18-years-and-older who have a driver's license.

According to Arizona Game and Fish Department, the state's urban fishing program is recognized nationally as one of the best in the country. The program is in partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and, in Payson, with the city's parks and recreation department to intensively stock and manage park lakes for fishing recreation. The program operates on the premise that "if people can't get out of town to fish, the program will bring fish into town for the people."

For more information about fishing at Green Valley Park, call the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

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