Category Features

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Aaron Martens had a cold. He hadn’t been able to kick it in time for the annual Ragnar Relay team race, but he ran anyway. He ran through the sniffles, stuffy head and runny nose.

“The guys who won the race had the same cold,” he said two days after the Miami-to-Key West relay team event. “That’s what makes us runners. We run even if we’re sick. If you can still walk, you can run.”

Same thing happened last fall. Martens had walking pneumonia, but he kept his commitment to run the Philadelphia Marathon.

Since taking up running about two years ago, Martens, 40, has earned the right to be called a runner. But that’s not, of course, how most people know him. They know him as a highly successful Bassmaster Elite Series pro. Training for a race provides the motivation to run, and he runs to stay healthy.

Right now, feeling very fit (despite the cold), he is moving fast toward the biggest event of the season: The Bassmaster Classic taking place Feb. 22-24, on Grand Lake.

The Classic’s first prize is $500,000 and an instant entry for the next Classic. That provides security for a season. The prestige, media and fan attention, and new sponsorships can change a career.

Sure, Martens would embrace a winner’s package, but he’s already a star of the sport. He has a huge fan base, especially in Japan. He’s racked up $1.9 million in Bassmaster earnings alone. He owns six Bassmaster titles — including his most recent in the 2012 postseason: 2012 Toyota Trucks All-Star champ — and 10 Top 10 finishes. He was the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, too.

This one had it all — long runs, risky strategies, run-and-gun fishing and a dramatic save of a stranded competitor. In the end, Alabama’s Aaron Martens edged out Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers to win the 2012 Toyota Trucks All-Star Championship.

Martens’ strategy of staying close to the launch area to increase his fishing time bested Evers’ choice of making a long, difficult run up the Sangamon River. Martens’ win was the culmination of four days of fishing featuring 12 of the best anglers in the sport on two lakes that presented some of the most challenging fishing in B.A.S.S. tournament history. In the end, Martens’ final day catch of 13 pounds, 8 ounces on Lake Decatur was enough to outpace Evers by 1-4. Martens’ total was the heaviest catch of the week.

Though there were only two competitors on the water for the final round of the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship, the day had a little of everything. Evers made a long run up the lake, pushing through silt and mud for more than an hour to reach his best fishing area while Martens stayed closer to the launch area. Evers pitched and flipped stumps and laydowns or threw a crankbait to catch his bass; Martens did the same. Both missed bass that might have been game changers.

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We’ve all heard the slogan, “Take a Kid Fishing.” Well, that’s what this story is about. It’s about a mother taking her son fishing and you’ll figure out what happened next.

First, though, an old friend and fellow competitor, Dennis Taylor, recently sent me a bunch of old southern California magazines and papers. While thumbing through them, a lot of old memories flooded back into my mind of anglers I used to compete against and the fun we had on the water and off. Then, I noticed something I hadn’t forgotten – more so it was something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. The year was 1989 and I wasn’t fishing competitively anymore due to school but I was still entrenched in what was going on.

Aaron and Carol Apr 1989 ABA1 300x254 A Star is BornTeam Martens’ first 3rd-place finish of the 1989 season. Photo courtesy of Craig Sutherland ABA Newsletter April 1989.

I’d go by the tackle shop and get the latest scoop and this one specific team kept coming up. Stuff like, “Oh, this kid and his mom are cleaning up at Castaic.” Or, “He’s the wonder kid – he’s only in high school and kicking everyone’s butt.” “Dick Trask say’s he’s the next Ricky Clunn or Roland Martin.”

I just shrugged my shoulders and thought it was all hype.

But then I’d get the magazines and yes, the kid and his mom were kicking the rears off of the most respected teams in the Southland.

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By Walker Smith

At tournament time, tight territory and too many anglers put extra pressure on the bass and on you as angler, but one professional angler has learned hard lessons on how to make the most fishing in crowds.

Professional anglers are the best in the world when it comes to overcoming adverse fishing conditions. Whether they are facing torrential winds, 6-foot swells or brutal cold fronts, these guys will put fish in the boat when many anglers will want to go to the house. There is one condition, however, that even the most accomplished professionals loathe: fishing in big crowds.

These anglers spend countless hours searching for bass fishing nirvana – perfect structure, great water conditions and limited fishing pressure. However, circumstances and, lately, restrictive tournament boundaries sometimes force the pros to get up close and personal with each other.

Megabass pro Aaron Martens is known for his ability to fish effectively in crowded areas. We all remember watching him battle it out with KVD in the 2011 Classic and most recently in the 2012 Green Bay Challenge, sharing water with the likes of Ott DeFoe, Terry Scroggins and Mark Davis. Martens believes that four key elements enable him to catch more bass in crowded areas.

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Story by Ken Duke, Bass Communications

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bassmaster Elite Series event that was billed for months as the “Mystery Lake” tournament is still something of a mystery to many of the best bass anglers in the world. The 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Aaron Martens, leads the way at the Green Bay Challenge with a five-bass limit of smallmouth that weighed 20 pounds. His closest competition, Dean Rojas, is just two ounces back, but a third of the field is knotted between 11 and 14 pounds.

“Everyone’s basically fishing in the same area,” Martens said, describing a 3 or 4 mile stretch of Lake Michigan on the east side of the lake, not far from Little Sturgeon Bay. “I’m concerned that all the fishing pressure might affect the bite and make things tough tomorrow.”

David Walker, currently sixth with 17-13, estimated that there were as many 80 boats in a 3-mile section of the lake. “In places, the boats are just 50 feet apart.”

Though the anglers are customarily closed-mouthed in the early stages of a tournament, several commented that many of the bass being caught are bedding smallmouth between 5 and 10-feet deep. Soft plastic baits fished on jigheads and drop shots are doing most of the work, though jerkbaits and spinnerbaits are also accounting for some bass.

Apart from concerns about the action holding up under such intense fishing pressure, there are concerns about the weather. A change in wind direction on a massive water body like Lake Michigan can turn a pleasant boat ride into an unpleasant journey and a challenging ride into one you just can’t risk. With conflicting and frequently changing weather reports, it’ll be a game-time decision for each angler as to whether or not he can get back to his fish on Friday.

Japan’s Morizo Shimizu had the Carhartt big bass of the day, a 5-pound smallmouth. Unfortunately for the pro, it was one of just three keeper bass he scored today. His total catch weighed 12-12 and put him in 47th place.

In the Angler of the Year race, pre-tournament leader Brent Chapman weighed in 13-14 and ended the day in 33rd place. Todd Faircloth sacked a big limit weighing 18-3 and passed Chapman in the AOY race. He now leads with 572 points to Chapman’s 560.

First prize in the Green Bay Challenge is $100,000 and a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. The pros also are fighting for points to earn a qualification for the 2013 Classic. Those near the top of the points standings are in contention for a postseason entry and the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

The Challenge will continue through Sunday at Metro Boat Launch in Green Bay. Takeoff is set for 6:15 a.m., and weigh-ins will begin at 3:15 p.m. The Bassmaster Elite Series Family Festival will open at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

All Bassmaster fan activities are free and open to the public.
Bassmaster.com will provide extensive daily coverage, including daily streaming of the weigh-ins as they happen, real-time leaderboards, photo galleries, results and standings. Saturday and Sunday, the Bassmaster Elite Series War Room will present updates from BASSTrakk, a catch reporting system relayed from the water, plus in-depth interviews and analysis.Hooked Up! segments will be presented Saturday and Sunday. Access is free to all Bassmaster.com pages and features.

Coverage of the Green Bay Challenge will air on ESPN2 on July 14 and on Aug. 5 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

By BassFan Staff

It was a picture you see on postcards or the cover of a chamber of commerce booklet. With the sun rising behind some hazy fog over the eastern shoreline of the Bay of Green Bay, Lake Michigan was as still as a mirror on a wall.

It was an unexpected treat for the 98 anglers who launched out of Green Bay, Wis., today for the opening day of the Lake Michigan Bassmaster Elite Series. As expected, many of them took full advantage of the slick, calm conditions to run to the northern edge of the fishable portion of the Bay.

Aaron Martens, on a recent surge up the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings, has set the early pace with a 20-00 stringer. He holds a slim lead over Dean Rojas, who caught 19-14.

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GREEN BAY – The leading angler brought in a 20-pound bag of bass during day one of the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Green Bay Challenge on Thursday.

Aaron Martens of Leeds, Alabama hauled in 20 pounds of fish and sits atop the leaderboard going in to competition Friday. Martens said it felt good to be in the lead, but was cautious not to celebrate too early.

“It feels good, this is first day though,” Martens said. “I like Wisconsin a lot, I like the fishing up here, it suits my style well. I love the clear water, I love small mouth fish and I love the way the weather was today. We didn’t have any wind and I’m hoping we get two days like that.”

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