Matthew Stone’s enthusiasm for fishing is obvious from every picture he posts. This guy loves to fish! We talk to Matt about his fishing and get to know where and how he loves to chase bass and other species that roam the waters of the Northeast.
Why do you love fishing so much?
So many reasons. For starters, I love the research. I love reading bathymetric maps and looking for good spots to fish, reading descriptions of lures and techniques to try, early morning road tripping to new launches, and hearing stories about fellow anglers and their trials and tribulations on the same bodies of water I like to fish.
One of my favorite parts about fishing is going for a new species. For example, my buddy told me this past winter about the blue catfishing down in the Potomac. I’d never catfished before, and it took me 3 trips and many different setups until I finally got it all right, and now they are one of my favorite fish to target when I really want to have some fun. Same thing with snakeheads. I started hearing about them in college back in 2010, but this year I began targeting them and right now am in the process of really trying to learn how they behave. It has required a lot of driving, some fruitless hours searching and casting, but when I finally began catching them it was all worth it. I love that fishing is literally learning the behavior of an animal and hunting it down to outsmart them. How cool is that?
I have to say, my absolute favorite part about fishing is getting up early, getting to the launch before sunrise, and pushing off from the bank into glassy water with nothing but the mystery of a full day of fishing ahead. I joke with my students that I sleep in during the week, because recently I’ve begun to get up around 3 or 3:30am on weekends in order to reach the launch by sunrise.
To me, there’s something sublime and special about driving out of Baltimore City where I live, on roads that are nearly empty, and being the first car in the parking lot and the first boat on the water. I love knowing that my lure is the first those fish have seen that day. I also truly enjoy getting on the water before it’s light enough to fish, and sitting under the stars eating breakfast.
Catching the fish is a bonus for me on any given day on the water. Fishing relaxes me, inspires me, humbles me, motivates me, makes me laugh, makes me curse, and above all makes me feel that hey, if I look back on the day and I was up at 3:30, spent some time on the water, and caught some fish, then I must be doing something right. Even when I get skunked, I still feel grateful that I squeezed the most life out of any given day. Fishing is so much to me, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Bottom line- it makes me feel alive.
When did you start bass fishing?
I began fishing when I was old enough to hold a pole. I’m the oldest of 3 boys, and my dad used to take us down to the railroad tracks that run along the river in my hometown in Vermont and we would spend hours down there catching bass on nightcrawlers in a little culvert side-pond. I did that all the way through high school.
One of my favorite memories was catching my first largemouth bass. I was probably like 9 or 10, and I was on the Connecticut River, in a johnboat that my dad borrowed from a buddy of his. My dad had taken us to Walmart the day before, and we each got to pick one new lure. I picked a Heddon Tiny Torpedo, and when I casted it next to a downed tree and zipped it a couple times, a little largemouth blew it up. I remember yelling in excitement, “Dad they look just like the ones on TV!”
I was hooked from then on. I grew up watching Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Shaw Grigsby, Hank Parker, and Charlie Moore, and once I saw a fish on my line that looked like the ones they caught, albeit a smaller version, I couldn’t get enough.
My dad was such a trooper. He would take my brothers and I on a 12 foot canoe and put up with all of our snags and arguments and whatnot, because now that I’m older I understand that when he saw us catch a fish and smile, it was all worth it. He taught me to appreciate the process, rather than the end result of catching a fish.
Fishing got me through some of the challenging times in my life, from losing a cousin to cancer to dealing with breakups to giving me an outlet away from the hustle and bustle of adult life. If it weren’t for my dad instilling in me that love of nature and fishing, I think I’d really have missed out on some of the most complete moments of happiness that I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my 30 years on earth.
How has 2018 been so far from a bass fishing perspective?
In terms of strictly bass fishing this has been an excellent year for me. I have 3 moments that really stick out. The first was catching a 4.3 pound largemouth on a jig on a local lake that usually produces much smaller fish. The reason it sticks out is that the jig I was using was poured and assembled by one of my 8th grade students who is an avid fisherman on the Susquehanna River. He gifted the jig to me, and that weekend I went out and had a blast using it. Seeing his face light up when I showed him the picture of his jig hanging out of that largie’s mouth was a moment I’ll always remember.
My next highlight was a trip back home to Vermont to fish with my mom and dad on some of my favorite childhood lakes. We spent multiple days on our boat and a canoe, and caught a ton of fish. It was capped by a sunset on my favorite pond of all time, when I tossed a popper in between some lily pads and a 4 pound largemouth blew it up, shattering the picturesque sunset silence. That was awesome.
Recently, I had an awesome time fishing during the massive rainstorms we’ve been getting here. I tied on a beat up old Zara Spook that my dad gave me and spent a few hours casting in the downpour parallel to some rip rap. I caught 5 fish, including a whopper around 3.5 pounds which destroyed the lure right near the shore. That was a fun day. Despite the rough weather we’ve had in the Chespeake Bay area, the bass bite has been consistent and it’s been my go to more often than not. I typically switch to striper fishing in the summer with some catfish and white perch mixed in there, but the bass bite has been really fun so I’ve been on that quite a bit.
What’s were your favorite places to catch fish in Vermont?
I grew up in a small town called Wilder, Vermont. It’s technically one of the 5 villages that make up the town of Hartford, Vermont. I’m a proud Vermonter, and it’s definitely the place that made me into the person I am as well as where I grew to love fishing.
I grew up fishing the Connecticut River just above the Wilder Hydroelectic Dam. It was a tough river to fish due to the water level changing rapidly from gates being open or closed at the dam, but it was a fun spot that produced some big smallmouth and largemouth.
My favorite lakes to fish there are Lake Fairlee and Lake Morey. They’re beautiful, clear, healthy lakes that produce consistently good days of fishing.
My favorite spot to fish above all else is a small pond known locally as Dewey’s Pond. It gets overgrown with weeds and lily pads in the summer, but there are giants in there. My brother caught an 8 pound largemouth out of there when we were little and I practically peed my pants when it finally came up to the boat after dragging the canoe around all over the place. Dewey’s is very special to me. It’s where I went to gather my thoughts when my cousin passed away from cancer, it’s where I went when I was nervous about leaving home to go to college in Maryland, and to this day it’s where I go when I get home to Vermont and want to truly let the stress of the world slide off my shoulders. I love that pond.
Where else do you like to fish in the Northeast?
I will always love Vermont lakes for fishing. There are so many, and they are clear and clean and never really crowded. One part of fishing that I dislike is when a lake or river is too filled with people. Being “away from it all” is one of the reasons I love fishing so much, so anywhere in Vermont is usually a good bet since it’s not often a crowded place.
I’ve also had epic smallmouth and largemouth fishing days at Lake Umbagog which borders New Hampshire and Maine. It’s way out there, but if you hit it right you can catch a smallie on every cast. We took a guided fishing trip on Lake Okeechobee when I was younger, although that is clearly not in the northeast.
Locally, I’m really growing to love the tidal creeks and swamps of Maryland. The variety of life in those areas is unreal. In one day and in one spot I saw multiple bald eagles, an owl, herons, ospreys, orioles…not the kind that lose baseball games…a kingfisher, and caught snakehead, bass, and catfish. That’s a testament to the health of some of these Chesapeake Bay watershed areas. They still need a ton of work overall to stay healthy, but we really have a special fishery here if we put some heart into maintaining and improving it.
I see a frog in a number of your photos. Where does frog fishing as one of your favorite presentations?
I have recently really begun to love frog fishing. I’ve caught largemouth and snakehead on frogs, and man is it fun! I think the reason I like it is that with most topwater lures, like a popper or a walk-the-dog, as soon as you get a hit you set the hook. But with a frog you have to fight every instinct in your body to set that hook and give the fish just a second or two to eat it, then absolutely set the heck out of that thing to get a hook in them. Boy, is it fun! Especially with snakeheads. They destroy frogs in the best way possible.
For me, I think casting angle is key. I try to throw parallel to the banks, weeds, or lily pads that I’m frog fishing in order to keep it in the strike zone for a longer time. One trick I like is if you’re about to pull the frog onto some lily pads/weeds or if you just pulled it off lily pads/weeds, to let it pause for a second and give it a couple small twitches. That area about a foot from the lily pads/weeds is the hot zone in my opinion. But there’s also no substitute for the awesomeness of seeing a fish coming at the frog like a missile from under the weeds and blasting through them. That’s one of my favorite parts for sure.
What are some places on your fishing bucket list?
I really want to go back to my mom’s hometown of Scituate, Massachusetts and do some more kayak trolling off the beaches there. It’s so scenic and there are some great striped bass populations up there in the summer. I really want to go jigging for fluke up there. I’ve never done it, but it looks like a blast.
Hopefully sometime soon I will be making a trip down to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to fish for sheepshead and anything else that wants to bite there. I have two buddies that are down there as I type this and they just sent me pictures of some massive sheepshead. Good stuff!
I think right now, even though I’ve fished them for years, I really am just starting to learn the true nitty gritty details of some of my favorite local hotspots for snakehead, striper, and bass, so honestly my bucket list places are those same spots, but I look forward to going there with the knowledge that I can really dial the fish in and have some epic days. As I mentioned in the first question, one of my favorite aspects of fishing is the trial and error and the research, so each time I go back to my favorite spots I try to use the knowledge I gained the previous trip and to have better days. It’s such a cat and mouse game chasing some of these fish. I’ve been fishing these same spots for years, but they still have more to teach me.
I look forward to hopefully traveling down to the Carolinas for some kayak trolling and eventually to Florida to maybe get a clown knifefish in the canals down there, but for now I am having an absolute blast learning the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries and swamps.
Thank you Matthew! Will be following on Instagram @sunrisekayakfishing.
Check out Matt’s review of his Pelican Angler 100 at TheKayakBassAngler.com.