I’m on the road to Lake Champlain this week for the FLW Open event. Lake Champlain is a great fishery and I can’t wait to get up there and whack both big largemouth and lunker smallmouths.

On the way, I stopped at 1000 Islands and did some filming with Mark Zona. Fishing with Zona is always a good time and it should make for a good show when it airs.

The trip has been a little bit of an adventure once again. After over $5000 intruck repairs I was still leaking fluid. This time it was coming from the Turbo unit on the truck. I got it semi-repaired with some duck tape and should be able to complete the trip like that.

Back home Lesley and the kids had a big scare. The winds in Alabama blew down a huge tree that fell on top of ourfifth wheel. Although they will most likely total the fifth wheel because of it, it’s a good thing the tree hit it. If the fifth wheel hadn’t been there, the tree would have landed on the house over the dining room, where the Lesley and the kids were eating dinner. Losing the fifth wheel is no biggie in comparison to if it hadn’t been there. Here’s a before and after photo of the fifth wheel.

 

I have been continuing to run and I am up to over six miles now, and it’s getting easier. I am enjoying it, but I still can’t catch Lesley. I’ll be ready for her by the time the Ragnar relay gets here in January.

For fishing, we are getting into the fall in most of the country. Fall fishing is a lot of fun because the fish are actively feeding for the winter. Fish can be caught by almost any technique. It’s a great time of year to try some stuff that aren’t your strengths and get better at it. For power fisherman, it’s a good time to get familiar with some finesse techniques like Shaky Heads or drop shot. For finesse anglers it’s a great time to get familiar with cranking or spinnerbaits.

One bait everyone should get familiar with is the Shaky Fish from Davis Bait company. This is my personal favorite bait (formerly known as a scrounger). You’ll find that the Shaky Fish has a much more effective bill than the bait currently known as a scrounger from other manufacturers.

Off to Champlain, I’ll check back in after pre-fish to let you know what I found

Well, it was actually yesterday. I turned the big 39 yesterday, and it was a good day. I spent a portion of the day at the pool with the family trying to beat this Alabama heat. Tonight I did an audio blogcast with Steve and the gang at the Bass ‘n More Talk show. Now I am blogging then off to get some rest.

I need the rest because I am training. I have been running a handful of times in the past few weeks in preparation for a Ragnar relay. Lesley runs like a Jack Rabbit. She left me way behind today and I fell. I think I sprained my wrist, but it could have been a lot worse.

So far I have gotten up to four miles, just a couple weeks ago I started at three miles. I want to get my times down for the big race in January. It’ll also be good preparation for next season.

Something people don’t know about me is, I eat relatively healthy. I think eating healthy is as important as getting quality sleep, especially during tournament weeks. I rarely drink a soda, I prefer all natural fruit smoothies or just plain water. Again, during tournament weeks anglers have a propensity to eat unhealthy foods on the water and off. Fueling your body is as important as fueling your truck or boat. It just takes a little preparation and planning.

Last week was a big week at the Martens’ household. The kids started school for the first time away from home. They were accepted into the Briarwood school here in Alabama. Briarwood is one of the best schools in Alabama and probably the entire country. Lesley and I are very proud of the kids and we know they will do great.

With the kids starting school, it also reminds me that I will be heading on tour solo next year. It has been great travelling the country as a family. I think the kids really got to see and do some stuff most kids don’t get to. How many kids can say they’ve been everywhere from the Grand Canyon to New York City, all by highway. I haven’t counted the number of states they’ve been to. It’ll probably be easier to count the one’s they haven’t been to. Lesley has done a fantastic job educating them so far, but we just thought it was time they started school. I’ll miss them while I am on the road next season, but I know its what’s best for them.

In the off-season, I plan to work with several of my sponsors to get some new products on the market. The first is my new Shaky Head with Davis Baits. This is a bait that I have been making in my workshop for many years. I fish with it often and it works great. My favorite part about it is the way it hooks the fish. It’s the only Shaky Head I fish and it’s time to share it with the world. Keep an eye out for that from Davis Bait company.

I am also hoping to get a square bill crankbait done with Megabass. Megabass products are hands down the best hard plastic baits on the market. However, they don’t have a few products that we use a lot on tour, the square bill is on of them. If I am able to get Megabass to make one, you can believe it is going to be heads and shoulders above any other square bill on the market. Megabass always makes top-quality stuff and they will not settle for any less.

At ICast, I worked with Gamakatsu on some hook ideas. They make the best hooks on the market, but again they are missing some things that I do to all my hooks. We’ve been working on them for a while. Hopefully during the off season we’ll be able to get those designs finished and ready for the Bassmaster Classic.

I’ll keep you posted on my mile times as I continue to work towards the Ragnar relay. If you don’t know what the Ragnar relay is, it is a series of running events across the country. This year we are running the one held in the Florida Keys. Many of the Angler’s wives formed a team last year and ran the one held in Central Florida. They did great and had a blast. So now the men are putting a team together. It’s a relay race where each person on the team runs a few 4 to 8 mile legs during the race. Team members run all day and all night, so that makes things interesting.

I finally had a day off, sort of. I just spent almost all day getting the boat ready for the river. Practice for the All-Star event finals starts tomorrow.

I finished the semi-finals in third place. I only fished the U.S. Open because I thought I could get enough to make the top eight. What was really cool about the semi-finals was the amount of people following me. I had a lot of boats following me. I think this might have been the first time I have had more people following me than following Skeet, that meant a lot.

I keep thinking about the fans who voted me into this All-Star event and wow, it still amazes me that the fans stepped up for me like that. I always work hard at every tournament, but I am going to work even harder on this one. I don’t want to let the fans down that voted for me. I will be on the water before the sun comes up and until well after the sun goes down for the next few days.

I have a tough match up in the first round with Edwin Evers. He knows the river better than anyone with the exception of Kevin VanDam so it’s going to be a tough match up. I really wanted to face Kevin, but the battle with Evers will be plenty for day one. This is an interesting format where we only have to have more weight than one other guy and then start all over the next day. Win three days straight and you are the All-Star champion. It is a winner-take-all event, so everyone will be going all out every day.

I haven’t blogged since the Open, but I wanted to say a few words about that event. First, I really want to thank WON Bass for giving the West, the country… actually the world a great event on a tough, but great fishery. The US Open is probably the tournament I enjoy the most all year. I fish bigger and more publicized events but the Open is special to me. There isn’t a lot of pressure to win, and there aren’t any points on the line like most of our events. It’s on a lake I really enjoy and I get to catch up with so many of the anglers I grew up fishing with and against.

It was a brutal week, between pre-fishing, ICAST, the desert sun and not much sleep it can really take a lot to make it through. I think I averaged four hours of sleep a night while I was in Las Vegas, and it wasn’t from what most people go sleepless for in Las Vegas.

The road trip out, which has been talked about by Bassmaster.com and a few other media sources, was a long drive but we made it with some time to get some pre-fishing in. My family is still back in California visiting with family and friends and I miss them, but I’ll get to see them on Monday when I fly back. I look forward to seeing them on Monday, hopefully with a new trophy. If that happens, I know it’s the fans of the sport and my fans that I can thank for giving me this opportunity.

I’ll try to blog after each round so stay tuned.

Las Vegas, Nev. – Aaron Martens of Leeds Alabama holds on to win his third U.S. Open bass fishing tournament on Lake Mead.  True Image Promotions; Martens’ Public Relations firm, caught up with him the day after his win, while he was on the road to the B.A.S.S. All-Star on Lake Jordan in Alabama.

The U.S. Open Tournament “The U.S. Open is probably the most grueling tournament anywhere,” explained the 2011 US Open Champion.  “Mentally and physically this event will push you to your limits.”

“The unique thing about the Open is, it’s the one place where anyone can take a shot at fishing against the sports best like Rick Clunn, Gary Klein, Fred Roumbanis, Mike Folkestad, Morizo Shimizu and more. Then you have the local sticks that come out and mix it up very well.  The Western anglers are good, really good, and to compete with them in their backyard is not easy.  I love Lake Mead and it’s my backyard too.”

Matching Mike Folkestad with the most US Open Victories (3): “It’s not about winning the U.S. Open more than anyone else or setting records.  To me it’s just about fishing and testing my skills.  Mike is 70 years old and he still goes out and works as hard as or harder than anyone out there. I have known Mike since I was 14 years old and he’s paved the way for guys like me to make it on tour from the West Coast.  Mike’s somebody I’ve looked up to for a long time and to hold the most wins with him is pretty cool. I actually hope Mike gets his fourth win before I do; but won’t be upset if he doesn’t.”

Fishing with Co-Anglers

“This event is different than most because you fish with a co-angler and you fish as a team, not against each other.  I had three great co-anglers and they helped out quite a bit.  On day two I had the pleasure of fishing with 13-year-old Carson Sims from Texas.  Kids like him are the future of our sport and that is great to see.  Just finishing three days of grueling fishing on Mead in the heat is an accomplishment but, he also fished well and caught the big fish on the first day of the event. What was really neat was he donated his $1000 big fish check to the Wounded Warrior foundation.  That was great as everyone should care about the soldiers who fight for our country.”

The Baits

“Lake Mead is literally fishing in a desert. I told my co-anglers that it’s a lot like trying to hunt coyote in the desert; they aren’t everywhere so you have to find a coyote here and there.  You have to cover a lot of desert to find a lot, but they are there.  Bass on Lake Mead are similar; which is why I chose my baits based on covering a lot of water.  I used three techniques mostly; a Davis Bait Company X-Vibe spinnerbait, a 4 ½-inch Roboworm on a drop shot rig and a Davis Bait Company football head jig.

Natural colors are important on Lake Mead.   The spinnerbait was a natural shad color. I used two colors of Roboworm, Aaron’s Magic and Blue Crawler and the Davis jig was green pumpkin.”

The Equipment

“For the drop shot I was fishing with a 10 to 12 foot leader of 6-pound-test Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon on a 6’10” Megabass Hedgehog spinning rod.  The tip of this rod is amazing; I have never seen another rod like it.   I used a 3/8-ounce tungsten drop shot weight and a Gamakatsu split shot hook. On day three, I did downsize my line to 5-pound-test to get more bites; Lake Mead will definitely make you a good light line fisherman.

For the spinnerbait I was using 12 and 14-pound-test Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon on a Megabass 7’2” Racing Condition rod and a 7:1 reel.  The rod was key because long casts were a must. My average cast was probably 120 feet with a long cast going over 150 feet.  The parabolic action of the Racing Condition rod is perfect and excellent for lighter line reaction fishing because it allows for good hook penetration on the bite, but it doesn’t rip large holes to make the bait fall out during the fight. One question I get a lot is where to get the Megabass rods that I use.  The simple answer is to contact MegabassUSA.com or email them at sales@megabassusa.com. The spinnerbait I used was slightly altered. I modify most of my baits. I cut down the wire about an inch and used only a single willow blade instead of two. I did use a size 1/0 Gamakatsu trailer hook, which is odd because I usually use a size 2/0 or 3/0.  I downsized the trailer hook because of the super clear water on Lake Mead.”

On Lake Mead

“The harder you fish the better you do. I worked my ‘hiney’ off this week.  I have never gone five days on only 16 hours of sleep before.  I have been fishing the US Open on Lake Mead since I was allowed to.  It’s made me the angler that I am today.

Lake Mead can be brutal on boats as well. This was my first trip out there in my Phoenix and I am so happy with this boat I can’t even tell you.  In the morning, its calm, but you have to run through ‘the narrows.’  It’s literally the Grand Canyon filled with water. With 400 foot walls on both sides of you; it’s only a third of a mile wide in some places, after a lot of boats run through there it can get pretty bumpy.  I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but the Phoenix is awesome.  It has a straight V all the way down the boat; there isn’t a flat spot in the back so you don’t have any hard bounces, the Phoenix cuts right through everything.”

The Road Trip to B.A.S.S. All Star Week

“Contrary to some earlier reports, I am actually going to get there with about a half a day to spare; I might actually get a little pre-fishing in.   I’ve fished Jordan about a dozen times before and I think I can do well there even with just a little pre-fish. My goal is to win this event. It would be cool to win on the West Coast and then back east; back to back; we’ll see.

One thing I would like to clear up is about the All Star event and my semi-late arrival.  After being selected by the fans I had a talk with Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director and I was ready to not fish the U.S. Open if they required it.  I was given permission by B.A.S.S. to do exactly as I am doing now.  I really appreciate B.A.S.S and their understanding of my situation.”

Before I go, I’d like to thank all the fans that voted me into the All Star Week event. I met a lot of them at the U.S. Open and I can’t tell you how much it means to me and it is much appreciated.”

 

Bassmaster fans have chosen Michael Iaconelli of Pitts Grove, N.J., Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., and Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., to complete the field of 12 for the July 23-31 Toyota Trucks All-Star Week in Alabama.

The “final four” All-Star anglers were revealed today by B.A.S.S. at the ICAST trade show in Las Vegas. The announcement was covered live on Bassmaster.com.

At the same time, 12 finalists in the Toyota Trucks Fan Favorites Sweepstakes were “virtually paired” with the pros for a chance to win a bass boat valued at $30,000. When the All-Star champion is crowned July 31, the fan paired with him will win a Triton 18XS bass boat with a Mercury 150 OptiMax engine. All 12 finalists will win a tackle pack from Berkley and Havoc.

The names of the 12 fan finalists and their pairings will be announced after all are contacted by B.A.S.S.

Over three weeks, 31,482 registered voters cast more than half a million votes at Bassmaster.com. Fans were permitted to vote once a day in each of four regions.

To get the vote, many of the 91 Elite anglers in the race actively campaigned. Most tapped heavily into social media and email blasts.

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