Cliff Pirch

Enjoying western fisheries

Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.

I’m fortunate to live near one of the top western fisheries, Lake Roosevelt. I spend a good amount of my offseason fishing this Salt River reservoir. I keep it pretty casual; I just enjoy catching them. But I do pay attention to how this time can benefit me as an angler.

I recently enjoyed a couple days of really good fishing on Roosevelt, and this gave me an opportunity to fish a lot of different things that I don’t get to use very often. It’s nice to be able to work with different rod actions, bait sizes and things that I don’t normally spend a lot of time doing. 

In a tournament, you end up sticking with things you’re really familiar with, and if you get outside that, you feel like you’re risking too much. There’s really not much time to experiment when you’re competing, so offseason fishing is your best opportunity to try new items.

As I’m fishing, I definitely consider the events and locations that we’ll be visiting during the upcoming Elite season. I look at some of the things that I’ll be doing, and then I’ll incorporate that into some of my trips over the next month and a half. 

What’s nice about Roosevelt is that it has a pretty diverse assortment of habitat, from shallow wood to deep offshore structure. You can catch a lot of fish by doing any range of techniques.

I’ve recently caught some really deep ones, some mid-range fish and some fish running the banks. There’s really a bunch of things you can do right now and get some experience catching fish on lots of techniques.

As far as baits, I’m excited to try a couple new sizes of the Big Bite Baits Pro Swimmer. I really like that Big Bite has added some smaller sizes for those tougher events or anytime you’re light line fishing. 

The new sizes in the Pro Swimmer are a 2.8 and a 3.3, both of which are ideal for anything from a dart head to a small round head jig. Having the opportunity to fish with these new baits gives me the confidence to incorporate them into my game plan. 

I’ve also been putting in some time with a newly revamped line of rods from Phenix Rods. The M1 lineup has a good balance of light weight and durability with a new Vortex handle that amplifies sensitivity. I’ve enjoyed fishing with these rods and evaluating the key criteria like casting, sensitivity, hook sets, fish fighting, line sizes, etc.

There’s a lot that goes through my head during these offseason fishing trips, but I mostly enjoy fishing without the pressure of a tournament on the line. I just have a good time and try to go fishing with some friends.

I don’t get super serious about it, because a big part of the offseason is relaxing and resting up for the new year. Of course, I definitely pay attention to the results because I want to start every season well-rested and a little sharper than the previous year.