Randy Sullivan of Breckenridge, Texas, is off to a fast start in the Bassmaster Opens. The 25-year-old young gun has fished nine Central Opens since 2015 and has made the money in five of those events.
At the end of the Central Opens season in 2017, Sullivan finsihed fourth in the AOY standings, qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. It became inevitable that he would become an Elite Series pro, just as it was inevitable he would become a bass fanatic.
“I was in the bottom of a bass boat when my parents fished tournaments when I was 6 months old,” Sullivan said. “It’s been our thing.”
In Sullivan’s eyes, his parents, Gary and Cheryl Sullivan, had their priorities straight. His older brother Richard also enjoyed fishing but football was his game. He played in college and now coaches high school football.
Sullivan began actually fishing bass tournaments with his parents as soon he was capable of holding a rod. Many of those outings were with the Breckenridge Bass Club.
“I grew up fishing with those guys,” Sullivan said. “They were my heroes.”
There were also countless local tournaments and tournament circuits that the family competed in, many of them on Hubbard Creek, Possum Kingdom and Stamford lakes close to home. These fisheries are so diverse that they forced Sullivan to become a versatile angler.
“Stamford has shallow, muddy water,” Sullivan said. “It’s all about flippin’ there. Hubbard is a lot cleaner and offshore structure fishing can be great there. Possum Kingdom is a deep, clear, rocky lake where I learned to catch them on topwater, with jerkbaits and by finesse fishing.”
At the ripe old age of 15 Sullivan won his first solo tournament. It was with his parent’s boat at Hubbard Creek. His mother had to drive him there and back the boat in at the ramp. The tournament limit was three bass and Sullivan bagged over 15 pounds.
“There were some prespawn bass moving up into spawning areas,” Sullivan said. “Everybody else was throwing spinnerbaits on brush. I was catching better fish on a squarebill.”
Before he attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, Sullivan had won many close-to-home tournaments. But he was unsure how he would fare elsewhere. Sullivan competed in 15 FLW college tournaments at Hardin-Simmons and won two of those events.
“That gave me the confidence I could catch them anywhere,” Sullivan said.
Besides versatility, Sullivan is also strong with Internet research, is keenly observant and possesses an open mind. One of the college tournaments he won was a prespawn event at Lake Amistad during the month of February. He learned from Internet research that Amistad’s bass could get extremely deep at that time of year.
While graphing along a bluff wall, Sullivan found bass, “piled up in 90 feet of water.” He dredged them up by vertically jigging a 5-inch flutter spoon.
“I can slow down if I have to, but I prefer to fish fast, cover water and move and move and move,” Sullivan said.
At the first Central Open of 2017 at Table Rock Lake in March, Sullivan moved, moved and moved to pick off bass by cranking a Wiggle Wart over rocky transition banks up the James River arm. He finished in sixth place.
At the Sabine River in June, the second Central Open of 2017, Sullivan was forced to slow down and milk one spot. That spot was where clear water from an oxbow flowed into the muddy water of the main river.
The bass were hanging on the line where the two waters met. On the muddy side of the line the bass would belt a white swim jig. A foot away on the clear side of the line Sullivan had to trick them with a worm. Once again, he nabbed sixth place.
Sandy Creek Marina in Breckenridge, Texas, sponsored Sullivan in 2017, and he picked up Mercury as well. Although he is capable of promoting himself on the Internet via social networking, he has held on doing so.
“I wanted to make sure I had truly done something before getting on social media,” Sullivan said.