Fishing Team Spotlight: Matt Randolph
Matt Randolph has been bass fishing for over 20 years, with only the last five coming out of a kayak. He is known for catching some TANKS on the water, and he is always happy and willing to help out anyone. Check out some of his favorite places to fish, what he uses to catch those monster bass, and some of his favorite things to bring on the water.
1) What is your favorite fishery, and why?
My favorite fishery would have to be the Susquehanna River, hands down some of the best smallmouth fishing in the country. If any of you guys/gals know me, I am a smallmouth fanatic!
2) When it comes to weather, do you prefer warmer days or cooler days, and why?
When it comes to days that I prefer to fish, I definitely choose the cooler days over the warmer days. But, I guess it also depends on the time of year. For example, this weekend it's going to be 71 degrees (Perryopolis, PA), and in the winter, any type of warming trend can be crucial to a successful day on the water. 1 or 2 degrees means a lot this time of year; that is if you have open water. In the summertime, having a cooler day will definitely make the fish more active. There are a lot of factors you have to consider before making the right decision about the weather and fish patterns. The more time you spend on the water, the more you'll understand the weather and how it affects fish.
3) What is your all-time favorite setup (rod, reel, line, bait)?
Hands down, my favorite setup is my G. Loomis Bronzeback Med. Action 7'4" Rod, Shimano Stradic 2500 Ci4+ Reel, 8lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon Line, PB&J 1/8oz Z-Man skirted finesse jig with a PB&J Big TRD Trailer (rattle added) and, last but not least, a big old glob of Smell Jelly!
4) Are you more of a river angler or a lake angler?
I am definitely more of a river fisherman than a lake fisherman. Although I love both, I'm a river rat. I grew up fishing rivers, and there is nothing better than a 2-3 day float trip with your friends on your favorite river. Oh yeah, and did I mention 90% of the rivers in Pennsylvania have smallmouth in them?! Another reason why I prefer rivers. Not saying I don't like fishing lakes, I just like rivers a little more.
5) What does preparing for a tournament look like for you? From scouting locations to watch the weather to the baits you’re choosing, etc….let us know!
Getting ready for a tournament consists of a lot of Navionics maps studying, and I will usually start looking at the weather patterns two weeks, sometimes 3 or 4 weeks before a tournament. It all depends on what time of year it is. Summertime, I mainly study Navionics and wind directions. Spring, fall, and winter, I will look at water temps more than anything else. To have a significant advantage is being familiar with the body of water you're fishing. When fishing new waters, look at Navionics and find areas where bass will be staging. You can always find fish near deep channel ledges even if it means fishing 35'+ water. Sometimes getting out of your comfort zone will benefit you in the long run. With all of that being said; now it's time to choose your bait.
I always find that a small jig presentation will catch fish all year round. Tweaking it for the condition (rattle, dye, fish attractant, lure weight, hook size, etc.) Having multiple rods is key when tournament fishing. From being able to grab a chatter bait in 10 seconds to throw at a busting fish to grabbing a whopper plopper and throwing it at a pack of 19" smallmouth, the ability to have that option will catch you more fish. Having the right rod and reel setup is crucial. Nothing worse than having a giant bass get off because of a gear malfunction/failure. It happened to me a lot as a kid, and I learned that you get what you pay for. I understand everyone can't afford to buy $300+ reels and $500+ rods, but do yourself a favor and save your money by purchasing a good rod and reel instead of purchasing the $50 reel/$50 rods that will possibly cause you to lose some sleep. You guys/gals know what I'm talking about.
6) Even though it may depend on the time of year, and what the water looks like, do you have a favorite color to throw no matter what?
My all-time favorite color would have to be a green pumpkin. I've caught over 30 citation smallmouth and over 15 citation largemouth in PA on a green pumpkin. Clear/dirty water doesn't make a difference; green pumpkin will catch you fish.
7) What is one suggestion you have for anyone that is looking just to start getting with kayak fishing?
To all the newcomers to kayak fishing, my one suggestion would be to have the right kayak for your style of fishing. For example, I have four kayaks, and all 4 have a purpose for different water. Do some research, find what you're interested in, and find a way to demo one for a day. There is nothing worse than buying something you are not going to like. Always keep in mind if you will be fishing more rivers or lakes. That will be the most crucial part of choosing a kayak.
8) Besides the obvious (paddle, PFD, rods & reels, baits), what is one thing that you always have on your kayak with you?
One thing I always have in my kayak besides the obvious... this is a tough one. Smelly Jelly!!! I know that's kind of obvious but, I won't leave the bank until I find my smelly jelly!
9) Do you have a favorite accessory, and is there any particular reason that is your favorite?
My favorite accessory would have to be my NRS Ambush crate. I added 2 extra rod holders to the side for more rods. It also zippers up and is pretty much waterproof. 10 out of 10 in my book!
10) If you are struggling on tournament day, what is something that you do to try and change that?
During tournament struggles, I found that sticking to your comfort bait will help you get out of a funk. Always be thinking that the next cast could be the one. And in all fairness, that's the truth. Always try and have a positive attitude, even if the struggle is real. Keep your head down and grind it out.
11) What made you want to get into kayak fishing in the first place?
A good friend of mine and a good friend of the kayak community Russell Johnson. He was the main reason I started kayak fishing. I've always been a fisherman, but usually out of canoes and boats and a lot of wade fishing. He is the one that got me in a kayak and I was hooked for life. (Thanks, Russ!) Getting into kayak fishing is unlike any other sport I've been apart of. We are all here to help each other out and look out for one another. I'm proud to be a part of the kayak community.
12) What is one of your goals for the 2020 season?
My one goal for 2020...that's an easy one...catch big fish!!
13) Where is your dream fishing spot?
My dream fishing spot is the Susquehanna River, even though it's a reality for me!
14) If you could spend a day fishing with anyone, who would it be? (this can be someone you know, a professional angler, anyone!)
15) Do you have a favorite technique to use, or are you comfortable with many different ones and switch it up depending on the day/location?
My favorite technique is definitely jig fishing, but I'll change baits till I find what is making them react. Then I will mess with colors until I see what they really want. I am starting to become more and more comfortable with several different techniques that I've been practicing for the last 25 years. Still trying to master them, though!
16) You seem always to be catching giant fish; do you think it’s more of knowing exactly what to throw or knowing specific spots that always produce big fish, or a combination?
I know a few of the giants I have caught over the last few years were plain old luck, but over time you start realizing fish migration/patterns, and then you add the conditions to the equation and make educated guesses where the fish will be. When you factor in everything, you are giving yourself the highest percentage of catching a big fish. I've read so many books/articles it's not even funny. They will help you understand what bass should do. The key is figuring out what they are actually doing. There is a lot of useful information out there, but there is also a lot of lousy information. Make sure you do your research and get on the water to put your theories to the test.
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- FishOn ProStaff