A stack of the current issue of Bassmaster Magazine, featuring 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens, awaits Martens’ arrival at the B.A.S.S. headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. See the full slideshow here.
To make a long story short – I figured out how to catch them, I just never found the fish that could win it. I spent three and a half days practicing and looking back at it, I needed another two days to really have a shot at winning.
I don’t have any excuses, but the main reason I struggled to find the right fish this year was because it fished a lot different than years in the past. The fish were acting funny. It could have been from either the changing weather conditions or the amount of pressure the lake has had on it with this years event.
The funny thing about Lake Mead is that 98% of the lake doesn’t have the fish that can win a tournament. Finding that 2% of the lake that holds the bigger fish is the key to fishing Mead. Lake Mead is a big place, even though its smaller today than in years past, it is still the biggest man-made lake in the U.S., maybe world, so there is a lot of water to cover.
Here’s how I caught them: I caught most of the fish on a Megabass Giant Dog-X topwater bait. Those fish, like all topwater fish, were caught in 0 feet, but most of them came out of grass, tree tops or just deep water. I mixed up the retrieves from slow walking to super fast, almost skipping the bait back to the boat.
While more fish came on the Giant Dog-X, the biggest fish I weighed came on a drop shot. My go to Roboworm colors this week were Aaron’s Magic and MM III and both produced equally over the three day event. I fished the F3-611XXS – Drop Shot rod with 5 to 7 pound Sunline FC Sniper line. The Megabass Orochi XX rods are still fairly new on the market and at the price point of $275 any serious angler can use the best rods on the market. You can check them out at a number of retailers including Tackle Warehouse and Hi’s Tackle Box.
Other baits I used during the event in the order in how much I fished them included the Davis Baits Aaron Martens Shakey head rigged with a 5 Inch Roboworm Zipper Shaker, a Megabass Vision 110 jerk bait, a Teckel Frog and a Megabass Pony Gabot frog.
After spending a week straight in the Mojave desert I can’t help, but mention the heat. We were lucky enough to get some cloud cover and wind over the practice and event days, but that’s when you are most at risk for sun damage. When it’s hot out you are constantly reminded by the heat to put sunscreen on or wear proper UPF clothing. I have to recommend Simms Fishing products for anyone spending time outside fishing. They have a full line of extremely comfortable shirts, gloves, hats and pants that will not only be comfortable to fish in, they will protect you. Then when the rain hits, slip on the Simms rain gear, the best in the business and worn by probably 80% of tour anglers. Find out more at SimmsFishing.com
Congratulations to Rusty Brown for the win and to Won Bass for an excellent turnout. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.
Oh, and don’t forget we (Bass Quest Magazine) are drawing for the person who wins a fishing trip with me on Monday at 5:00 PST. Be sure to check out BassQuestMagazine.com for more details and how to get a chance to fish with me.
From Bassmaster.com originally from Bassmaster Magazin in October 2011
By Mark Hicks
Any angler who doesn’t own an assortment of Spooks, Sammies and other fat, dog-walking stickbaits isn’t serious about catching bass. These pudgy topwater lures slam the fatties year after year.
Many Bassmaster Elite Series pros also rely on slender stickbaits that look like Jenny Craig disciples. Oklahoma’s Fred Roumbanis favors ima’s Skimmer. This 3/8-ounce lure has a slim profile similar to a 5-inch soft plastic stickbait.
The Skimmer comes through for Roumbanis mainly on calm, sunny days.
“You need a good breeze to turn the Spook bite on,” Roumbanis says. “The Skimmer catches more bass in slick water.”
The Skimmer’s ability to draw strikes on flat water allows Roumbanis to target bass that his competitors overlook. That’s what happened during a major tournament he fished at Lake Mead.
“A lot of guys were chasing windy points where the bass would bite regular stickbaits,” Roumbanis says. “I was chasing bass in bays with slick spots where I scored with the Skimmer.”
Roumbanis usually works the Skimmer with a slow, steady sashay, as he does with fat stickbaits. However, the Skimmer responds with a quieter, more natural action.
“The Japanese burn the Skimmer so fast it jumps out of the water,” Roumbanis says. “They have good luck doing that on their high-pressured lakes.”
Roumbanis makes the Skimmer dance with a 7-foot medium action iRod and 15-pound P-Line CXX, a floating monofilament. A bone-colored Skimmer draws strikes for him wherever he fishes it. “One of the great things about the Skimmer is that it gets better hookups than a Spook or a Fluke,” Roumbanis says. “That bait is all hooks.”
Elite Series standout Aaron Martens of Alabama fishes a skinny 3 1/3-inch, 3/8-ounce Dog-X Speed Slide anytime he finds bass feeding on small baitfish. Although this stickbait is designed to practically walk in place, Martens also works it with quick, hard twitches. This makes the Dog-X jump and slide erratically across the surface.
“It looks like a panicked minnow swimming for its life,” Martens says.
The hot retrieve draws strikes for Martens when bass chase baitfish on the surface. Martens reverts to a basic dog-walking action when there’s a break in the feeding frenzy. He scores big with this tactic in clear lakes where bass suspend over 20 to 30 feet of water in the summertime.
Then again, the Dog-X works anytime bass are feeding on small, young-of-the-year baitfish, Martens says. He has also called up smallmouth bass on the Dog-X in Northern waters, such as Oneida Lake. The lure was a major player for him when he finished in 24th place during a Bassmaster Elite Series event at Fort Gibson Lake, Okla., in June 2010.
“I was working a bone-colored Dog-X over shallow points in 2 to 3 feet of water,” Martens says.
Alabamian Gerald Swindle ties on Lucky Craft’s spindly 4-inch, 3/8-ounce Gunfish 95 when bass refuse to bite fat stickbaits. The Gunfish’s small cupped face spits when you walk the bait over the surface.
Swindle generally works the Gunfish with the same cadence he imparts to fat stickbaits. But, there are times when bass prefer a faster tempo, twitching and a wild, darting action.
“You need to drink an energy drink before you do that,” Swindle advises. “It’ll wear you out.”
The fast pace goaded strikes from sizable bass when Swindle fished an Elite Series tournament at Lake Murray in spring. The bass were feeding on blueback herring over shallow points, and they had been pounded by fat stickbaits.
“They wouldn’t hit the big stuff anymore, but they’d jump on the little Gunfish,” Swindle says.
by John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
By the time Saturday evening rolled around, Aaron Martens was still having a hard time comprehending that he’d won the 2013 Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award after starting the season with an 85th-place finish.
He didn’t recall that there was a precedent for such an achievement. He’d set it himself in 2005, when he captured his previous AOY despite an 88th in the opener at Lake Toho.
“It feels like that was a long time ago, but it really wasn’t that long,” he said. “This one feels pretty good – probably even better than the last one. I just wish I could start catching them at the beginning of the year.”
He’s been incredibly hot since the season’s fourth event and, if not for mechanical problems on day 4, would’ve notched his fifth consecutive single-digit finish this weekend at Michigan’s Lake St. Clair (he ended up 12th). He started the day just a pound and a half out of the lead and might’ve won if he could’ve brought his bag (estimated at 20 pounds) to the scale.
Happy Birthday, Indeed
Martens clinched the AOY on his 41st birthday. He also received a surprise visit from his family as wife Lesley and children Jordan and Lesley made the 750-mile drive from their home in Leeds, Ala. when it became likely on Friday that he would cop the crown today.
He noticed them in the crowd as he brought his 20-11 sack to the stage and stopped in his tracks.
“I couldn’t believe my family was here,” he said. “I’ve been fishing for a long time, and this was one of the best days of my career. Then it got better.”
He understood how difficult the day had to be for Edwin Evers, who’d led the AOY race for most of the season before faltering in this event and watching the coveted title slip away. Evers finished no lower than 30th in any of the first seven tournaments, but ended up 54th at St. Clair.
“I feel for Edwin because he deserves this as much as anybody. It’s great for me, but I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great angler.”
Slim, but Not None
Martens said he assessed his chances of winning the AOY as no better than 1 in 10 when the tournament got under way. He needed a big assist from Evers, who held a 30-point advantage, and didn’t plan on getting it.
Evers opened with a 13-pound bag on day 1 and Martens simply strolled right through with the same type of performance he’s been putting on since late spring.
“I didn’t have any distractions this year and I think that was the most important thing,” he said. “My family was with me a lot, but they’re not a distraction. I stayed away from all the dock talk and the only person I talked to about fishing was Todd (Faircloth) – we shared a lot of pattern information and stuff like that.
“I’m not really sure how it happened, but it was just a phenomenal year.”
His focus will now go back on winning the Bassmaster Classic, which he’s never done (he has four runner-up finishes in that event). It’ll be held next year at Lake Guntersville, which is only about a 75-minute drive from his home.
“I’ll try to go over there a few times before the cutoff (in December) – I always say that, but then I never do it. It should be a good Classic as long as the umbrella-rig guys don’t beat up the fish too bad this winter.
“I really need to win that thing.”