Reel Chat transcript with RANDY HAYNES - Major League Fishing

Reel Chat transcript with RANDY HAYNES

Randy Haynes discusses his FLW Tour victory on Lake Eufaula, his recent EverStart win on Pickwick Lake and some tips for ledge fishing
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Pro leader Randy Haynes shows off part of his 22-pound, 2-ounce stringer from day three on Lake Eufaula. Photo by Brett Carlson. Angler: Randy Haynes.
May 28, 2013 • MLF • Uncategorized

Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by FLW Tour pro Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., who recently took home the top prize of $125,000 after winning the 2013 FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula.

Boasting nearly $330,000 in career FLW earnings, Haynes is currently riding one of the best tournament-fishing streaks of his lifetime. After winning the EverStart Series title on Pickwick Lake on May 4, Haynes turned right around and snared the FLW Tour title on Lake Eufaula on May 19 – netting $195,000 in winnings over the past few weeks alone. The Tennessee native also has six FLW wins to his credit since 2008, including four EverStart Series victories, one FLW Tour title and one BFL win. Haynes has recorded an additional 12 top-10 finishes despite only fishing in 33 FLW events total.

Today, Haynes is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let’s get started.

Q: If you were fishing Lake Eufaula in June, what would your primary plan be?
— Tony Winterfeld (Columbus, Ga.)
A: I would say to go totally offshore, pick up a crankbait and target humps and ledges. I’d also spend a lot of time idling looking at my Lowrance units.

Q: You always mention timing when rotating through your offshore spots. What determines your rotation and how long you stay on each spot? Are you timing current, time of day or just simply giving each spot a rest then returning later?
— Scott (Oakland, Tenn.)
A: It’s kind of all of the above. There’s a feel to it. Usually when I go out and catch them in practice I try to hit them about the same time during the tournament. Letting the spots rest is important. It also depends on the pressure the lake is getting. At Eufaula, certain parts of the lake weren’t getting as much pressure so I’d change how much rest I’d give my spots based on that.

Q: You are a Pickwick legend, so what are some of the ways you locate productive ledges on Pickwick Lake?
— Andrew (Booneville, Miss.)
A: Well, a lot of it is just time on the water. Then it becomes a pattern deal. If they’re hitting on a 17-foot break on a kickout for example, I’d look for the same thing in other places. But I’d say 90 percent of it is time on the water.

Q: Congratulations Randy on a stunning victory. Would you please explain your Carolina rig – the leader length and precisely how you retrieved your bait? And I am curious why you used a 1-ounce weight when the water was relatively shallow. Thank you!
— Liam (Albany, N.Y.)
A: For the Carolina rig, I was using a 3-foot leader behind the 1-ounce weight. This tournament I was throwing a creature bait. I used a slow retrieve trying to keep it on the bottom. Those fish just liked a big 1-ounce weight kicking up stuff in the rocks; it just really drew their attention.

Q: Hi Randy. The lake I fish is heavily stained with algae and has a large smallmouth bass population. Have you successfully targeted smallmouths on ledges? What presentations would you recommend given the algae stained water with maybe 6 to 8 feet of visibility? Thank you.
— Ryan (St. Paul, Minn.)
A: In those situations I’d usually use a bright colored 1-ounce spinnerbait, 3/4-ounce tube or jig.

Q: Randy, how well do you think you will match up on Grand Lake next week? Is it a lake that will let you fish to your strengths?
— Darrin Hett (Canton, Kan.)
A: I’m going to say yes and no. I think it’ll be mostly a shallow bite which isn’t my strength. The lake is going to be new to me – especially that part of the country. I’m actually kind of nervous about it but I’m hoping I do well.

Q: Randy, in your spare time between tournaments how do you prepare for the next event?
— Michael Sells (Jonesborough, Tenn.)
A: I got home Friday night from a PAA event, spent the next day home with the kids and then spent the rest of the time cleaning boats, looking at maps, preparing tackle and preparing for Grand Lake and Chickamauga. It’s a never-ending deal with these tournaments. I really haven’t had any time off since the EverStart Pickwick Lake tournament.

Q: Randy, is Grand Lake going to be won shallow or deep? With the water temperature as cold as it is, will it be a summertime pattern or postspawn pattern?
— Darrin Hett (Canton, Kan.)
A: I think the fish will be in a postspawn phase and I think it will be a topwater, flipping and offshore bite all going on at the same time. I think about 50 percent of the fish will be shallow and the other half will be out deep.

Q: Randy, how important was it to have deep water close to your best ledges? Does having deep water close by make a ledge better? Or is it not important?
— Liam (Albany, N.Y.)
A: It does make it better. There are times where the fish like the flatter stuff, but in the hotter months deep water nearby is critical.

Q: Where did you find your primary and secondary locations on Lake Eufaula, the main lake or in the river? And what techniques did you use?
— Tony Winterfeld (Columbus, Ga.)
A: I considered the main lake and the river in this tournament. I found them in pre-practice and was just fortunate they started biting. I caught a handful on the last day of practice and it got better as the tournament went along. I was throwing a swimbait and a Strike King 5XD crankbait – those were my two most important baits.

Q: Randy, congrats on the win! Did you employ a special retrieve for your swimbait such as hopping it off the bottom or stroking it? Or did you simply count it down to a certain depth or slow roll it off the bottom?
— Adam (Poplar Bluff, Mo.)
A: I slow-rolled it off the bottom. I did try different retrieves but my main retrieve was to slow-roll it up in the water column and on the bottom as well.

Q: What kind of swimbait were you using and how were you fishing the swimbait on Lake Eufaula? Congrats on your win!
— Steve Graziano (Phenix City, Ala.)
A: I was using several different kinds of swimbaits but they all had a 1/2-ounce jig head.

Q: Did you have any family or friends at the Lake Eufaula event supporting you?
— Eric (Del Rio, Texas)
A: I had some of my fishing buddies there. My wife was in the middle of a nursing contract and she took off for Pickwick so she couldn’t come to Eufaula. It was kind of a sad story and some pretty bad timing but I’m thankful for the friends that did come.

Q: Randy, how are you weighting the Strike King 6XD to get to that 22- to 23-foot range?
— Rob (Benton, Ky.)
A: We’re putting on a little bit heavier hooks, using 10-pound line and tuning the bait where it will run perfectly straight. But not every bait will run that deep, at least not out of the box.

Q: Why did you need such a long rod for those deep-diving crankbaits you used? Isn’t it a lot to chunk all day? What power/action is best?
— Mike (Murphy, Ga.)
A: I like longer rods because you can really get distance on a cast and put the tip of the rod in the water to get maximum depth. The rod was a Kistler KLX medium heavy 7-11, a Mark Rose signature rod.

Q: When fishing a TVA lake, does water release from the upriver or downriver dam impact fish more? Which release schedule do you pay more attention to?
— Scott (Oakland, Tenn.)
A: I pay attention to which end of the lake I’m fishing on the release date. Knowing the release schedule on both ends helps, but the section of the lake I’m going to fish is the one I really pay attention to.

Q (MODERATOR): Randy, how does your recent win on Lake Eufaula stack up to some of the other victories in your career? Also, how do your two tournament titles in the month of May alone compare to other successful stretches?
A: My first EverStart win at home was probably the biggest one of my career. My third win at Kentucky Lake was big because it was my first win away from home. At Eufaula, that win was special because it was against the best of the best. And having people come up to me since that win to congratulate me has been overwhelming. This past month just blows me away.

Q: Talk about your relationship with Mark Rose. Is it true you taught him how to fish offshore?
— Steve H. (Madison, Ala.)
A: That is not all true. Mark won his first event before we even met. We had a mutual friend who went to weigh-in and introduced me to him. Since then we’ve become really good friends. Over the years, he’s helped me out and I’ve helped him out. But Mark is probably a better offshore fisherman than me. It just so happens that I’ve been on the better end of things this past month.

Q: Did you try to throw an Alabama rig at all? Why did the solo swimbait work better?
— Jack (Paris, Tenn.)
A: I did not try the A-rig because I was fishing so shallow and there were so many stumps in the lake that it wouldn’t have been practical.

Q: With two tournaments left on the schedule that should both be offshore, do you think you have a realistic chance at making the Forrest Wood Cup? How important is that for you?
— Dave (Shreveport, La.)
A: It’s going to be tough, it really is. I’ve never been to Grand Lake before and Chick is a small lake, at least it fishes really small, so everything is going to have to go perfectly. I’m hopeful but expecting the worst. In the end, it would be a great honor to fish in the Forrest Wood Cup.

Q: You mentioned fishing “bars” last week on Eufaula. Is there any difference between a bar and a ledge?
— Tony (Evansville, Ind.)
A: I consider a “bar” a hump on the main lake. I consider a “ledge” as something primarily in the main-river channel.

Q: Congrats on your wins! I live right outside Grand Lake. We have great ledge fishing here. I can’t wait to see what you pull out. On regular sonar without down and structure scan I see arches of fish often but I can’t get a bite. Is there any distinct feature to tell if what you are casting at is a bass?
— Craig (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: The way they set up on the graph are arches. Time on the water really helps because you really get used to looking at your graph and understanding what your graph is telling you.

Q: Randy, what kind of swimbaits are you throwing on ledges and when?
— Mike (Brownsville, Texas)
A: I use various swimbaits with a 1/2-ounce head and it’s getting to where swimbaits are becoming an all-year deal. There is always a swimbait rod on my deck.

Q: What is the best crankbait reel you have used or are currently using?
— Rodney Lewis (Savannah, Tenn.)
A: I think it’s the Lew’s BB1 with a 5.1:1 ratio.

Q: It seems that ledge fishing took the fast track this year. In your opinion how long do the bass linger in their spawning areas before moving back out deep?
— Darrell D. (Saltillo, Miss.)
A: It depends on the lake and every lake is different. The length of the spawning season was longer this year so they stayed on the bank longer. At Eufaula, there were just a handful of fish out deep but I was fortunate enough to have found them. So I had a lot of the lake to myself and that made a big difference. It was a perfect window for me at Eufaula because if it was a week later, there would have been a bunch of people out with me. But I’m so hard-headed and this is what I’m good at. It just worked out for me.

Q: What was your primary lure if you had to pick one that was key at Eufaula?
— Ricky Bobby (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A: I’d pick a Strike King 5XD (citrus shad) with both a slow and fast retrieve.

Q: When targeting ledges and offshore structure on the Tennessee River, what kind of bottom and depth contour are you looking for as far as the most productive areas?
— Seth (Rogersville, Ala.)
A: Depth would depend – between 6 and 18 feet. Bottom composition would be the biggest thing – hard rock, shells and big mussel beds.

Q: How deep would you expect to find the bigger fish at Eufaula about now?
— Tom (Camden, Ala.)
A: Right now I still believe they’d be in the 6- to 12-foot zone. If I had to fish tomorrow I’d be concentrating in the same area.

Q: Do you prefer deep-diving cranks to run straight down or do you like to tune them to run one way or the other?
— Henry (Berryville, Ark.)
A: Run straight. One hundred percent – run straight. When those baits hit a rock, they kick up and generate extra strikes. When that bait jumps off a rock, if it’s running straight, it’ll jump up and give off a bigger hop and the fish can’t ignore it.

Q: Randy, can you tell us how you got started fishing tournaments? And what gave you the confidence to go pro?
— Doug (Glassboro, N.J.)
A: Well, dad took me out as a kid. My uncle also took me out riding on a big bass boat for the first time and I was kind of hooked after that. In 1998 I won my first big team event, won it fishing by myself. Then I started winning some more local tournaments. I eventually fished an EverStart and won – that was back around 2008. And that was my big confidence builder. It really meant so much at that level. My last Kentucky Lake win was important – especially to win against some of the best ledge fishermen in the summer – and really special. It was a big deal for me.

Q: What’s your favorite jig for ledge fishing? How about your favorite bait and color for your Carolina rig?
— Dan (St. Louis, Mo.)
A: My favorite jig for ledge fishing is a Strike King Tour Grade jig 3/4 ounce in size with a Rage Craw trailer. My favorite bait for a Carolina rig could be anything from worms to creature baits; I really don’t have a favorite. I like anything in green-pumpkin color though.

Q: Randy, what do you think the main pattern will be for the boys in the All-American at Nickajack?
— Craig (Park Hills, Mo.)
A: That’s going to be tough there. Just because it’s the hot summer, I’ll say it’s an offshore pattern. But the BFL guys are so good they can win any number of ways.

Q: Have you ever fished Lake of the Ozarks?
— Joe Difee (Lebanon, Mo.)
A: Oh yes, I’ve had my head beat in up there. I love the lake, but the only time I’ve fished it has been during the spring when it was a jerkbait deal. But I haven’t had a chance to fish it during the summer or the fall and I’d really like to get that chance.

Q: Randy, how confident are you now about the upcoming Everstart tournament on Kentucky Lake? You have to know in your head that you are one of the best ledge fishermen in the country so with a total ledge event looming you must be foaming at the mouth.
— Ricky Bobby (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A: You know, there so many things that can go wrong. Rose is one of the best ledge fishermen out there and he had one of his toughest tournaments there. In the back of my mind, I know timing will be the key because like I said there are so many variables and so many things that can go wrong that you never know.

Q: What advice could you give to help co-anglers catch more fish when the boater is ledge fishing?
— Jason (Scottsville, Ky.)
A: Do the opposite of what the pro is doing. If he’s throwing a crankbait, throw a Carolina rig or a jig. You have to do something different to get those bites. I’ve had a lot of success with my co-anglers in the past and that’s been the biggest key for them – doing something different than what I was doing.

Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have to chat with Randy Haynes. Thanks, once again, to all the fans who tuned in and participated in today’s Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Haynes, the 2013 FLW Tour Lake Eufuala winner, for giving us his time and insights.

Haynes would also like to say thanks to his wife and children as well as his sponsors before signing off. “You can’t be competitive without them,” he said. “It’s a really big deal.”