1. It was at the age of 16 that Martens first began impressing fishermen throughout the West as he dominated Castaic, Calif., area team tournaments with his mother, Carol. The Martens took Angler of the Year honors 11 times and were a fearsome duo in southern California tournaments.
2. “My husband and I had an argument when Aaron was in high school and wanted to give up varsity volleyball to fish tournaments on Saturdays,” Carol said. “My husband said there was no future or money in fishing. I said there was no future or money in volleyball. Aaron and I won.”
3. Two years ago, Martens moved from California to Leeds, Ala., to reduce his driving/travel time and learn more about Southern bass fishing.
4. “(Competing on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail) has been a dream since I was 7 or 8 years old,” Martens said. As soon as I saw The Bassmasters on TV, I knew I wanted to be out here. It's a dream come true.”
5. The then-California whiz kid finished eighth (instead of third) in the 2000 CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Chicago because of a late penalty that incurred when his watch stopped working and he lost eight minutes without realizing it.
6. Martens finished second in his last two Classic appearances.
7. His fishing heroes were western pros Dick Trask and Jay Yelas. “I wanted to meet Jay when I was a kid because I had seen pictures of him fishing the West,” he said. “Of course, Rick Clunn and Gary Klein are heroes of mine, too. I really wanted to meet those guys when I was about 17 or 18 and started getting excited about bass fishing as a career.”
8. The 32-year-old pro scored his Angler of the Year heroics and finished second in the season-finale at Table Rock Lake on a 15-year-old original Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait that he bought while competing on the WON Bass circuit more than a decade ago.
9. Martens cut his fishing teeth on trout, not bass. “Growing up in southern California, there’s not much to fish,” he said. “There are little ponds and stuff with houses all around and golf course ponds. I fished for trout when I was growing up, but I would ride my bike to those ponds, and that’s where I really got the bug for bass fishing. I loved fishing to the point where I just wanted to do it all the time when I was a kid.”
10. Martens’ nickname among his Western tournament counterparts is “Spin Doctor” for his ability to talk in such enthusiastic detail about even the most mundane aspects of bass fishing.
TV TIME. The CITGO Bassmaster pros love their television time, but few have gone to such lengths as Jeff Reynolds during the Table Rock Tour.
In the final round, the Oklahoma angler hooked and was about to land his largest bass of the day only to find that the ESPN cameraman had run out of battery power during the fight. No problem, Reynolds simply left the bass in the water and boated it when the camera was functioning again.
“You know, it’s sometimes hard to get TV time,” he said. “There are a lot of good fishermen out here – a lot of people who deserve it. After waiting with a four-pounder for the cameraman, I think I deserve to be on TV.”
That sequence was included on The CITGO Bassmasters coverage of the tournament.
CONSERVATION AWARD. BASS/ESPN Outdoors Conservation Director Noreen Clough recently received the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fisheries Program Conservation Award for her outstanding contributions to the conservation of aquatic habitats. The award was given at the Service’s Second Annual “Hook and Cook” Festival.
The award was present by Steve Williams, then director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, at the Capitol Hill event which recognizes champions from the public and private sectors who dedicate their time and resources to combating threats to the nation’s aquatic habitats.
“Of course, it's always a pleasure to get an award,” Clough said, “but this one is special because it recognizes the contributions all of us here at BASS are making, both at BASS/ESPN Outdoors and at the BASS Federation level. I’m especially proud of all the work the Federation Conservation Directors take on in their states to ensure that our aquatic resources are conserved for the future of fishing.”
Clough, one of nine award recipients, joined BASS in 2003, and has enjoyed a 30-year career working on natural resource policy issues with Congress, conservation organizations and federal government agencies. Prior to coming to BASS, she was a consultant in natural resources management and a former career Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. When she retired in July 1997 as Southeast Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, she was responsible for directing USFWS’s fish, wildlife and habitat conservation, protection and enhancement activities in 10 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1997, she was distinguished as the American Sportfishing Association’s Woman of the Year.
GREATEST ANGLER DEBATE. Former Classic champion Ken Cook was one of the 35 semifinalists in the Greatest Angler Debate presented by John Deere. Inside BASS asked him whom he would vote for as the best of the best:
“It would be hard to pick one person and really think you’re right,” Cook said, “but I think I’d pick Roland (Martin). He’s had a longer record of success than anybody else.
“Even though he’s had some slow times lately – like we all have when we get older, I guess – he still has a remarkable enthusiasm for the sport. His ability to catch bass over a wide range of conditions is probably better than anybody. All of the guys in the top 10 deserve a vote, but he would be my pick.”
The Greatest Angler Debate series is part of BASS Saturday on ESPN2. The programming features biographical shows on the top 10 anglers as well as debate among experts. Fans will find stats and stories in the pages of Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times, Bassmaster.com and on the weekly ESPN Outdoors radio show. In June and July, the debate will heat up again as the fans choose between the top two anglers during a second round of voting on Bassmaster.com.
The debate will conclude in Pittsburgh — at the 2005 Classic — when two champions are crowned. One will be given the Classic trophy and the other will be hailed as the greatest angler of all time.
WEIRDEST CATCH. Texas pro Alton Jones actually managed to pattern the weirdest item he ever hooked.
“One day I was cranking on Lake Waco — fishing two different deep spots about two or three miles apart — and I caught a pair of pantyhose off of each spot,” he said. “It’s pretty bizarre to catch one pair, much less to catch two in the same day.”
DID YOU KNOW? Lost in the all of the award hoopla of the season-finale on Table Rock Lake was the fact that Kevin VanDam and Jay Yelas extended their Classic streaks to 15 consecutive appearances. Theirs are also the longest active streaks.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Georgia pro Danny Kirk will be 49 on April 23rd.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Western pro Greg Gutierrez would concentrate exclusively on his job as a firefighter.
THEY SAID IT. “I really wasn’t ready to get started this season. I didn’t have enough off time. I had a lot of business stuff going on in the fall, and I went out of the country for CITGO. One thing led to another, and I just didn’t get any time to get away. I normally have an off season — two or three weeks to kind of forget about everything and relax.” 2004 CITGO Rookie of the Year Greg Hackney, winner of the Tour season-finale, on the reason for his slow start at the beginning of the 2005 season.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.