I noticed Kyle Metzger because his social media indicates that he had a made a recent major switch in his fishing. Kyle had recently moved from fishing some of the south’s best bass fisheries to New York. Not only is he now fishing places like the 1000 Islands and Lake Oneida, but he is also already having tournament fishing success. Kyle provides a unique perspective on our fishing here in the north.
What is your background in fishing?
I was born and raised in south Florida, I grew up in a town called Naples. I began fishing as soon as I could stand. I really got started tournament fishing because of my father, who is also still an avid tournament angler. We spent about every weekend of my childhood and teen’s on Lake Okeechobee where we had a fish camp. This is where I really got my tournament fishing drive from, everything we could get into we would fish.
Towards the end of high school is where the hitch in this story begins. I enlisted in the US Coast Guard in 2006 right out of high school. My first assignment was Key West where there wasn’t much bass fishing but I fished regularly and guided part time for a few years.
After Key West I got relocated to south Mississippi where I really took my first step in learning something new when it come to bass fishing. As anyone who has ever fished tidal water can tell you, it can be a completely different experience and comes with big learning curves.
After four years of running the marshes of Mississippi and Louisiana, I got my pick to go to Paducah, Kentucky. This is where I really feel like I kicked tournament fishing into high gear. My second Wal-Mart BFL as a boater I won out of a 150 plus boat field. After that win, the learning with highs and lows was the norm for the next couple years.
I was averaging 30 plus tournaments a year. I was traveling all over the country while living in Kentucky. After four years of fishing Kentucky Lake, learning what it means to ledge fish a TVA lake and getting two major wins under my belt, I unfortunately had to leave since my tour there was up.
Now being married and my wife trying to apply for grad school, we had a list of picks of where we could go. So we went to where she had more opportunities to go to school and which place had the best bass fishing. That brings us to here in Syracuse, NY. We got here last summer, and I hit the ground running. I spent every hour I could to learn everything I could about catching smallmouth bass.
What are the differences in fishing that you have noticed between southern and northern fishing?
I have fished for about every species in a ton of different bodies of water. What I have seen over the years out there are that it really comes down to two fish… Northern bass and Southern bass. It doesn’t matter if they are brown or green. The major differences I have noticed are really the southern fish is very affected by everything. By this I mean if water temperature, cloud cover, wind direction, anything changed at all the southern fish will shut down or get hungry.
These northern fish really don’t seem to get affected by it as bad. A blue sky up here can mean an awesome day where as down south it’s a deal breaker. A very well known pro once told me all Florida bass should be exterminated, in a joking manner, because the strain is just so finicky.
Also a big adjustment coming from Florida is learning my electronics. Heck, I don’t think our family boat had a GPS/depth finder until the mid 2000’s. There was just no need. If you wanted to know the depth we would put our rod in the water till the tip touched bottom. I think electronics and graphs are a huge key to success for anyone making a transition to any part of the country.
As far as adjustments go, I think this has been the fun part. Growing up in Florida you needed about three rods on deck, flipping stick, worm rod, and maybe a topwater or spinnerbait. Also they all were heavy rods with 65lb braid. My biggest adjustments have really been just stepping out of my comfort zone. By this I mean expanding my arsenal of baits and rods, fishing deeper than I would have ever tried, playing with my graphs, and really just spending a lot of time doing research on areas.
Ten years ago I owned about two spinning rods. They never got used. I had maybe one jerkbait. I never dropshotted or threw a tube before. And I had a GPS that would just tell me water depth in black and white. These adjustments have come with every location I have lived though. Mississippi I adjusted with learning tides and throwing small baits. Kentucky I learned flipping bushes and throwing GIANT baits in 25 feet of water on ledges.
Here has been no different. I take every trip out as a learning experience and really just try something new every time. I am a much more well rounded angler than if I had stayed in Florida and only fished grass my whole life. By learning all this and experiencing different parts of the country, it is working into my plans for the future very well.
You recently wrote that you don’t think you have ever been more mentally prepared for a season. What do you mean by that?
The mental statement really came from such a long winter. Growing up in Florida, we fished literally year round, same with Mississippi and even Kentucky Lake. With the long winter up here, it really gives an angler an opportunity to reset your batteries. This winter I prepped all my tackle and got the boat in order with repairs and additions. This season I also really have been focusing on the social media/angler promotion side of fishing that I simply haven’t had time to do in years past. Between organizing boxes, watching fishing shows, working on social media, and just about anything else fishing related I can do in the winter, I really feel like I have started this season out with a blank slate.
What tournaments will you be fishing this year?
I will be fishing the BFL series, the ones in NY that is. Also I will be fishing a local trail called KTBA. I learned about them last year, and they run a lot of local events. It is really a great group of guys and gals to fish with.
Besides that I really want to jump into the FLW Costa series up on 1000 Islands. That’s where I took 7th place last year on my only third time ever out on the St Lawrence. I have a lot of confidence on the big lake. It fishes in many ways like Kentucky Lake.
The local tournaments are really what I am looking forward to. While the BFL and big tournaments are what gets your name out there, I feel like the local tournaments are where you get the respect of the local grassroots anglers. These are the guys that grew up here and have fished these local lakes their whole life. Doing well against these groups of anglers is the toughest. I’ve fished more local tournaments than I can count, and I think these are where the camaraderie and true respect between anglers come from.
What were the keys to your strong finish at the 1000 Islands?
My strong finish in the BFL Super Tournament last year was a very big surprise to me. I did the usual prefishing a couple times out, and really watched the weather. I learned last year that weather is a big factor on the big lake. I would say the two biggest factors that helped with that finish were the fact that I knew how current fish set up and knowing how to read my electronics.
Just leaving Kentucky Lake where current is a key factor in the summer I related what I learned there about current breaks and where fish set up and applied it to the river. Going along those lines I spent hours reading my electronics and graphing different places. I found where the fish were and where they could set up to get out of the current.
Once I found some fish on a few key places, I stuck with my guns throwing only a dropshot for two days. I just alternated between two different sizes of baits. I had a big fish of 6.6, my biggest smallmouth ever. I was super ecstatic about my finish considering multiple local guides, an FLW touring pro, and now Bass Master Elite series pro, Jamie Hartman, finished just ahead of me. The field was stacked to say the least.
You clearly have found some enjoyment in fishing Onedia Lake in New York. How does this lake’s bass fishing rank compare to some of the good southern lakes that you enjoy?
This is a tricky question. Last season I spent a lot of time on Oneida Lake fishing the KTBA events and even the BFL where I had a terrible finish. I tried to go off of what I had heard about Oneida Lake. Looking at past tournaments, I had seen largemouth and grass fishing. So to say I was excited to get there and fish grass for green fish was to say the least.
Last season I only caught one largemouth all season. Oneida really got the best of me last year. With a fresh start on the season and constantly learning about the lake, I have seen the bright side and had some great days this season so far. I am sticking to my guns in still saying it is somewhat of a mystery lake that seems to change day to day. I would say it ranks up there on my list just because of its fishing diversity. You can fish shallow for largemouth or flip grass for them or pick up a spinning rod and chase smallmouth all day long out to 30+ feet.
What have been your best spring methods on Oneida?
This spring has been great on Oneida. The biggest key to my success so far this season has been not being afraid to go shallow! I have broken my transducer on my trolling motor 4 trips in a row now because I am fishing so shallow. I just keep JB welding it back on because I know I will probably break it again.
I’ve seen fish shallow when water gets high in Florida lakes but these fish here get crazy shallow. Also these fish have been very specific. They aren’t on every little log or tree limb that touches the water like some lakes. But saying that, timber has really been a big key. Looking for shorelines with clean water and laydowns has been the one-two punch.
The sight fishing game for smallies is also really great. If I can see them, I can catch them. It’s one of my favorite things to do as I’m sure everyone’s favorites. The bedding fish have all come out of three to ten feet of water with rocky bottom.
Speaking of the South, what southern lakes do you recommend for northeastern bass anglers who want to do a bass fishing vacation?
I am a fan of my home lake, Lake Okeechobee. If you want a solid chance at a 10 pound plus fish, this is the place to visit. Saying that I also would HIGHLY recommend Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. I’ve been going down there for a military tournament the last 4 years now. And in a three day tournament the last time my father and I won, we had over 65 pounds. I love Okeechobee and Kissimmee. If you want a good get away from the cold and are looking for a giant bass, I would recommend either lake.
But if you are looking for a day of catching 40 to 50 bass but your average size is 3 to 4 pounds, I recommend Kentucky Lake end of May to July. If you can stand the heat and boat traffic, fishing ledges can be really really fun throwing a 10XD, 9 inch swimbaits, or even the Ben Parker Magnum Spoon.
Who are your sponsors and what do you love about the products for these sponsors?
I have some great companies I represent and that have helped me along the way. First off my wife, family and friends are really the true sponsors of my fishing endeavors. Without them and their support I couldn’t do what I love to do.
But along the way I have made some great partnerships in the fishing industry. I have had the great support from Denali Rods, Picasso Lures, P-Line, and Redtail Optix/Redtail Republic.
Denali Rods are really a top of the line rod in the industry. They offer a high quality rod that has durability and the newest technologies out there. Pair those with a great price and they are a great fit for any angler. They really just feel great and are comfortable to fish with.
P-Line, as well, has been onboard with me for awhile. I had been using their line for a ton of years before I came onboard with them. They always are a step ahead and offer a line for every angler out there. I used them all the way from ice fishing this season to flipping Okeechobee in February all the way to drop shotting their fluorocarbon today on the lake.
Picasso Lures is another company that supports me out there. When we talk about ingenuity and product perfection these guys really are the experts. A lot of companies make good products but Picasso Lures makes extraordinary products. They go above and beyond perfecting every lure they make. Again they cover the spectrum from shallow to deep, north to south, east to west. They make everything including spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, high quality tungsten weight, umbrella rigs, buzzbaits, and so much more.
Included onboard is RedTail Optix and the RedTail Republic out of south Texas. My good buddy Captain Nino Gonzales started this company some years ago and has really grown it into a brand name that you can trust when it comes to optics. They are flat out making great high-end eye wear that will compete with any big name out there and exceed the expectations of any angler.
Without the help and support of these folk and companies I really couldn’t fish as efficient and comfortably without them onboard. I only promote companies I fully believe in and these are the truly professional companies in our sport.
I am quite confident, Kyle, your sponsors love having you represent them. Thank you for taking the time to share your fishing journey with us.
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