Matt Randolph’s Instagram page caught my eye as I noticed he was fishing out of a Jackson Kilroy kayak. This is a boat that is on my short list for when I make my first kayak purchase. So, I couldn’t wait to get his review of this kayak. He fills us in on the boat and also offers a unique perspective as someone who fishes both the Jackson Coosa as well as the Kilroy. Of course, Matt and I also discussed his favorite Pennsylvania fishing waters and the species he loves to target, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Read on to learn more about Matt and his fishing.
I am going to start with a purely selfish question seeing you fish from a Jackson Kilroy. I have a Jackson Kilroy kayak on my shortlist of kayaks to purchase. Tell me, based on your experience, why I should or should not buy a Kilroy.
The Jackson Kilroy has been my go to since i purchased it. The 31″ base makes this a very stable sit in style kayak. Even when standing up it is very stable. It’s not one of the best kayaks for white water but it can navigate a class 3. with the occasional splash of water over the bow. The storage capabilities are almost endless. Making for a great kayak for tournament fishing, easy to load and go. Would i buy another one? Yes.
I’ve also noticed you fishing from a Coosa in the Jackson line. What are the pros and cons of this kayak in comparison to the Kilroy?
When it comes to river fishing, I will use my Coosa 90% of the time on float trips. But when it comes to doing a single access, I will use my Kilroy because it tracks through current a lot better than the Coosa. Lake fishing, I choose my Kilroy. When the weather starts getting cold I switch to my Kilroy. Sitting inside keeps your lower body out of the wind. I truthfully think that both kayaks have there pros and cons in specific situations. Is one better then the other? No. If I had to choose between the two, I would have to choose the Kilroy.
Beyond the kayaks, you absolutely slay the smallmouths. What are your favorite smallmouth waters in Pennsylvania and how do you approach each one of them as a unique fishery?
#1 in my books would have to be the Susquehanna River. #2 is the Allegheny River. #3 Youghiogheny River. Those are just my top three. There are a lot of great lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania. These are by no means the best waters in Pennsylvania, just the ones I’m most familiar with. I approach each one differently but with the same mindset, the next cast could be a 23″ monster smallie. Weather, water temp, and time of year are just some of what I look at when heading to the river. There are a ton of other aspects that go through my mind when preparing for a day on the water but that’s a whole other can of worms…lol.
I want to ask the same question but this time for largemouth bass, which you seem to also catch a lot of.
We already know that I would choose smallies over largemouth any day of the week, but there are some damn good largemouth lakes and ponds in Pennsylvania and nearby, 1. Lake Wilhelm 2. Lake Eire 3. Potomac River.
I know you use hair jigs. What times of the year are you fishing the most with hair jigs and what are the keys aspects of your technique for working the hair jig back to the boat?
I use hair jigs all year round. Different patterns and types of hair for certain situations. For example when the water drops below 45 I will start tying bucktail hair jigs. In summer months I will use mostly rabbit hair. My technique doesn’t differ much from summer to winter when it comes to retrieve. I’ll cast it out let it hit bottom. Usually I will let the fish tell me how they want it. Start off with a slow jigging technique with constant contact with your jig. This will help you understand what’s on the bottom and less snags. If this doesn’t work then speed up.
What are you go to hair jig colors?
Water clarity plays a big part in what color to use. I mainly stick with minnow patterns but when the water is stained I’ll go to a olive or black minnow/craw pattern.
Will you finish this statement for us…if I am not fishing for bass, I will be fishing for __________ because _____________________.
If I am not fishing for bass, I will be fishing for steelhead because it’s tradition.
What were your 3 best fishing moments of 2016?
Best 3 moments of 2016 is a hard one for me to answer because it was filled with great days on the water. #1 my Susquehanna 20.75″ smallie. One of the biggest I’ve caught this year and to make it even better it was on topwater.
#2 My pb largemouth out of my yak. 24.25″ 7.67lb. caught on Lake Chickamauga in the middle of August also on topwater.
#3 placing 2nd in Western Pa Kayak Anglers Allegheny River tournament. Chose not to do a shuttle and did a single access instead. It payed off and was able to find enough fish to put me in 2nd.
Thank you Matt for all of the information. I am hoping 2017 continues to find the big fish for you.
All of us can follow Matt’s success on his Instagram page.