With the Big Bass Challenge now heating up the overflow waters of Roosevelt Lake, it's time for some solid bass fishing tips from some of the state's finest anglers.
For those guidelines, we'll check out an Outdoors Under the Rim Column that Payson Roundup writer Dennis Pirch penned last summer.
For the article, he asked several top-notch tournament anglers, "How would you catch a big bass from Roosevelt Lake?"
"Mark Kile, Bassmaster Rookie of the Year 2003 and 3-time Classic Qualifier said, ‘Be prepared to catch the big one by using the right equipment.'
Line selection should be a quality brand of at least 15-pound test that won't break when that five pound plus fish makes a run to cover. Hook selection is also important where the size fits the bait used. Names to look for are Gamakatsu, Owner or Daiichi. Finally, make sure the rod fits the bait thrown, which could mean a variety of fishing rods on your deck, ready to be put into action at a moment's notice.
"Ty Goodman, who recently won the Bill Luke Big Bass Quest and a fully rigged Ranger bass boat said, ‘Confidence that an area or spot holds big fish because of previous experiences fishing in that location.'
"Being a patient fisherman and the willingness to wait for that one big bite that will win a tournament is important. Ty fished one area of Roosevelt for three days before he caught the 10-pound bass that won him the boat.
"Buddy Randall, who won three major team tournaments on Roosevelt Lake, with three different partners in the last month and a half, has consistently been catching 20- to 25-pound bags. He gave this advice: ‘Sensitive equipment that will detect the slightest bite will improve chances,' he said.
By using an extremely sensitive rod, one can feel the smallest pressure change or tick that travels through the line to the rod in your hand.
"Big fish seldom slam the bait, but may actually pick the lure up and slowly move away. He also recommended to slow down in your approach to moving that bait in the water during the summer months.
Longtime resident of Tonto Basin and veteran Roosevelt Lake angler Charley Boyd said, ‘A large waterdog of at least 6 inches with a Carolina rig will do the trick.'
"He likes to fish substantial drop-offs, where fish can feed then escape to deep water. These main lake points and humps could be at a depth of 25 to 40 feet where big fish hideout in the summer heat. Charley has caught many large bass this summer, fishing this technique.
"Clifford Pirch, National Guard bass pro who has qualified for two FLW championships and four Top Ten finishes on the tour, said, ‘During the summer months, think offshore and deep water structure that has easy access to shallow feeding areas.'
"A deep water pattern could be anywhere from 25 to 40 feet, depending on the circumstances. Make sure your graph has the capacity to accurately describe the bottom that you are fishing. Learn how to use your graph to find locations where big fish will spend time."
During midweek, Dennis Pirch said the same advice he received last summer still holds true and anglers would do well to follow those tips while fishing the Big Bass Challenge which begins today, May 16 and wraps up May 18.
Fishing for money
The payouts to the winning anglers in the Big Bass Challenge could turn into some of the most lucrative in tournament fishing.
Tournament director Rich Schultz said Big Bass cash prizes will be doled out every hour of each day of the tournament beginning at 8 a.m.
The first place prize is $300 and $100 will be awarded to second through 10th place finishers.
Also, those tournament anglers who register at the hotel and casino will be eligible for a $2,500 cash bonus.
That sum will be given to the entrant who catches the largest bass each day and is either registered or checked in at the hotel and casino.
A $1,000 day cash bonus will be given out to any angler who buys a tournament T-shirt and catches the 7th place bass during the 11 a.m. to noon weigh in.
Every tournament angler who registers at the hotel and casino will also receive $10 cash back for each day fished.
Schultz predicts that up to $5,000 could be won each of the three days by the angler who catches the largest bass.
"A lot of money and prizes will be given away," he said.
Entry fee into the tournament is $85 per day and registration may be completed at the casino players' club or online at: http://www.777play.com/05-2008-Big-Bass-Challenge.htm