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Dennis Pirch

Stories by Dennis

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Water running in the East Verde River

Outdoors Under the Rim

With the year of no winter behind and late spring upon us, there is a definite lack of moisture and ground water in the Rim Country.

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Wildlife drinkers improved in Unit 23


There are a number of wildlife drinkers that have been built over the years to catch water when it rains and used later in the drier times which are frequent in Arizona.

Time for fall trout fishing


Fall has arrived, and that often dictates storing the fishing equipment and breaking out the hunting gear. Many archers have been in the field for a couple of weeks attempting to tag a deer, while archery elk season is just beginning.

The bulls of fall are starting to call


To an outdoorsman, there are a few predictable signs that wildlife exhibit at different times of the year. The gobble of a wild turkey in the spring, the salmon run of an Alaskan summer, and the bugle of a bull elk in the early fall in the mountains of the West are all benchmark events in nature.

The Mexican Gray Wolf expansion into the Tonto

For many years there has been an experimental transplant population of Mexican Gray Wolves on the Arizona-New Mexico border. This area is located in the sparsely populated Blue River area, White Mountain Apache Reservation and the Gila wilderness.

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Get in shape for fall hunts

The results are now in from the Arizona Game and Fish Department lottery drawing for deer, turkey, sheep, and fall javelina hunts and are available on the Internet — go to and follow the directions posted.

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Knoll Lake offers a cool, solitary retreat

The Mogollon Rim rises more than 1,000 feet above the general landscape with rock cliffs that form a plateau of thousands of acres of dense conifer forest.

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Rim blackberries are ripe

By about the third week in July, the first crop of blackberries are beginning to ripen on the vine and these bushes will continue to produce berries through the Labor Day weekend. So it is time to start exploring some of the old haunts to see which canyon has the ripest and best fruit. There are numerous locations under the Rim that have berry patches, but most of them are off the beaten path.

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Big Lake - big fish

Summer trout fishing in Arizona is a popular way to beat the heat of the desert and maybe catch a few rainbows.

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Bear Canyon Lake — worth the trip

Sometimes it’s so tough to drive by a lake for another destination, which may be a few miles further where you are planning to go fishing for the day.

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Mississippi River experience

A couple of weeks ago on the spur of the moment, I had the opportunity to journey to LaCrosse, Wis., which is on the banks of the upper Mississippi River.

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Crappie concerns for Roosevelt Lake

Anglers, Game & Fish search for solutions

Roosevelt Lake has long been considered one of the best crappie lakes in the Western United States.

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What a difference 50 years makes!

The longer I live, the more I reminisce about fishing trips and memorable moments catching trout with friends.

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White Mountain fishing trip is worth time and effort

Last week, my longtime friend and fishing buddy, Dean Pedersen, made a trip to Sunrise Lake on a day that I couldn’t make the journey.

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The East Verde River is a real trout stream

With the pumps working at Washington Park, the East Verde River is flowing at a healthy clip; creating at least 20 miles of quality trout waters from the pump station to well below East Verde Estates.

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Visiting Woods Canyon Lake on a hot, summer weekend

Weekends at Woods Canyon Lake can be hectic — even when in a boat.

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Catch, but then carefully release, rare, wild brown trout

The trout-fishing season is in full swing with all the Rim lakes and major streams being stocked on a regular schedule.

Big game applications due soon

The antelope and elk permits have already been issued for 2013 and those lucky hunters who drew a tag already have a week or two in the fall set aside for the pursuit of big game.

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Let’s keep our forest clean

The Memorial Day weekend crowds appeared to be at an all-time high, with the local campgrounds and day-use areas filled to capacity by Valley residents wanting to escape the heat of metropolitan Phoenix.

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Spring trout fishing

It is mid May and the Rim lakes have been producing limits of rainbow trout to the anglers who have already made the short trip. Water temperatures have gradually increased after the long winter and that has made the holdover trout more active and willing to bite.

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Young Payson anglers win tourney

Over the years Payson anglers have shown very well in state, regional and national bass fishing tournaments. There is a younger generation of high school- and college-age anglers that are continuing with that tradition and the fishing world of competitive bass angling is taking notice.

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Ted Pettet receives Legacy Award 2013

Ted Pettet was a young Arizona State College graduate (now Northern Arizona University) when he came to Payson as a business teacher/coach 54 years ago and he is still making a difference in young people’s lives in this community.

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The crappie bite is starting on Roosevelt Lake

It is finally starting to happen at Roosevelt Lake – the springtime crappie bite is blooming.

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Springtime fishing off to a slow start at Roosevelt

While local anglers are chomping at the bit to head to the largest of the Salt River reservoirs, Roosevelt Lake, the fish just aren’t cooperating.

Listen for wild turkey mating calls

Winter is coming to a close, the days are getting longer, and the comfortable temperatures encourage more outside activities.

Repairing fishing equipment in the off season

It’s early March and most of the hunting seasons are over, yet, spring is still a few weeks away.

First hunt memorable for fifth-grader

The rifles and bows are now back in their cases, stored away for the next hunting season.

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Youth hunt for javelina in Unit 23 a success

Over the last decade, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has expanded the youth hunts for a variety of big game including deer, elk, turkey and javelina.

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Examine those fishing rods before the season

Zane Grey, the famous Western author, was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed fishing in all parts of the world including right here in the Rim Country.

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Wildlife, fishing grow when water flows

Remember an old Salt River Project commercial, which stated “Arizona Grows When Water Flows”? How true that is, especially when it comes to outdoor recreation in the Rim Country. 

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Trying to outsmart a wild trout gets the adrenaline pumping

Having hiked and fished just about every stream under the Rim that had any chance of holding a trout has been an adventure over the last 50 years.  It still gets the adrenaline pumping in this aging outdoorsman — trying to outsmart a wild trout and succeeding in catching one of those brightly colored game fish on ultralight gear.  When I find a secluded stretch of water that has a rainbow, brookie, or brown trout, I often wonder how that fish took up residence in a creek that is very much off the beaten path.

HPR ammunition now available nationwide

About a year and a half ago, HPR ammunition was little more than an idea on a notepad that was being pursued by a visionary named Jim Antich, who saw the growing demand for ammunition in the firearm industry.

Typhoon sunglasses a hit at FLW Cup Expo

The fishing and hunting expo at the recent Forrest Wood Cup at Hot Springs, Ark. was attended by thousands of outdoor enthusiasts. Typhoon sunglasses were one of the biggest hits — with new styles of protective eye wear for the fishermen and other water enthusiasts. The display was always crowded with anglers wanting to try on the latest in eye protection.

Archery season begins today

The months of waiting have come and gone since the closing of archery deer season on the last day of January. But, now we have an additional three weeks with high hopes of outwitting a whitetail or mule deer in most of the hunting units along the Mogollon Rim. If you hunted in the January archery deer season and did not connect, you can try again with the same tag.

Beat the heat — bass fish early

With scorching summer temperatures of well over 100 degrees during much of the day, the desert lakes attract a much smaller crowd of bass fishermen.

August is blackberry time in Rim Country

The first week of August is the time to start picking blackberries from your favorite patch. Residents who have picked in previous years know when to make that first trip with bucket in hand. Most major drainages, which originate at the base of the Rim, will have ample water and at least a few patches of blackberries.

Summer trout fishing in the White Mountains

With all of the trout lakes and streams along the Mogollon Rim that are so convenient, it is sometimes difficult to break the habit of fishing the same waters. This past week, I did just that and ventured 90 minutes farther up Highway 260 to the White Mountains. It was tough not turning left on the Tonto Fish Hatchery Road, at Woods Canyon, and finally Willow Springs, but driving farther on the 260 toward the Pinetop-Lakeside area I was in the heart of another trout fishing bonanza.

Getting in shape for upcoming fall hunts

Results from the Arizona Game and Fish Department lottery drawing for deer, turkey, sheep, and fall javelina hunting permits should soon be available on the Internet — type in and follow the directions posted. Elk and antelope tag winners have already been determined and those lucky hunters now have those precious permits in their hands for the 2011 season. Now is the time to do your part and prepare for the rigors of the fall hunt.

A day hike for wilderness stream fishing

This past week, I made a trip into one of the many wilderness streams of the Rim Country in hopes of catching a rainbow or German brown that could be classified as a wild trout.

Town elk herd requires caution

The front page article reporting the human-cow elk encounter no doubt created much attention in the Payson area. As residents of the Rim Country observing wildlife can be almost an every day occurrence, but last week’s encounter is one for the “believe it or not stories.” Whether its elk, deer, javelinas, mountain lions or bears all will create situations where there are human encounters when they inhabit the same area.

Summer trout fishing in full swing

The Rim Country offers a variety of trout fishing opportunities within an hour’s drive of Payson. One of the most popular is Tonto Creek, only 17 miles east of town on Highway 260. Because of its popularity, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has a weekly stocking program from mid-April until the end of October.

Get those rods and reels repaired now

Winter is upon us and that fishing equipment is stored in the corner of the garage waiting for the spring bite. If you are looking for something to do on one of those cold winter days, how about examining your favorite rods and reels in preparation for the first spring fishing trip?

Thanksgiving in the Rim Country

The Thanksgiving weekend is often a time for our to family gather and enjoy too much food and many stories that seem to focus on the outdoors in the Rim Country.

A look at life from atop a treestand

The four months of fall throughout the country ushers in numerous big game hunting opportunities with a variety of weapons.

Northern Arizona rifle deer season a success

Many of the rifle deer seasons have come to a close in northern Arizona, and there are reliable reports that many hunters drawing tags for the local units of 22 and 23 now have venison for the freezer

Fall trout stocking begins at Green Valley Lake

One of the most popular fishing spots in the Payson area, Green Valley Lake, received its first fall stocking of catchable rainbow trout about two weeks ago. By sundown today, these waters will have the second batch of hungry rainbows ready for all of us local anglers to catch. This program will continue every other week throughout the winter and well into the spring season.

Now is the time to be trout fishing in mountains

Many outdoor enthusiasts have stored the fishing rods as the fall hunting seasons are currently the main focus of interest. Filling that big game tag, chasing quail from ridge to ridge or waterfowl hunting will take center stage for the remainder of the fall.

The fall colors are beginning to show

The fall months, with the last days of Indian summer, offer the hiker and other outdoor enthusiasts perfect weather conditions to view the changing colors of the leaves before the winter snows.

Team effort makes FLW Bass Tournament a success

Just a few weeks ago, 100 of the best bass fishermen in the West launched their boats for a week of competitive fishing on Roosevelt Lake with Payson being the hub of all the activities.

The bugle of the bulls

During the past couple of weeks, the shrill bugle of the many bull elk that are courting the available cows in the Rim Country has interrupted the quiet early morning hours. The early fall is the time of year when getting up at the crack of dawn will add some wildlife entertainment by listening to the competing bulls as they gather their harem of cow elk, which is part of the natural cycle of reproduction for these majestic animals.