Kimberling City, Mo. – Second place just gets old after a while. Greg Hackney and Aaron Martens know this all too well. Both are successful BASS pros who have long since earned the respect of their peers, but neither has climbed to the top of the bass fishing mountain. Hackney has come close to winning a Tour event on several occasions while Martens finished second in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic two of the past three years.

Both anglers reached milestones at Table Rock Lake this week at the season finale of the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour.

Martens brought in a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 11 ounces which was enough to vault him into second place at Table Rock and earn him the title of 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year in a tight race against North Carolina’s Marty Stone. Martens needed to finish fourth or better to take bass fishing’s most prestigious award and was sixth heading into the final day of competition.

Stone, who missed the cut to 12 anglers for the semifinals, sat stage-side and could only watch as Martens brought his catch to the scales.

“I didn’t really think I had a chance at Angler of the Year coming into Table Rock,” Martens said. “I still can’t believe I won it.”

Hackney had never won a Bassmaster Tour event prior to the Table Rock tournament and had been saddled with the bridesmaid tag a few times. His fourth consecutive limit gave him a tournament total of 57-9, more than seven pounds better than Martens, who finished second with 50-3.

“I thought I might choke again when I wasn’t catching the same fish that I had been catching the previous days,” Hackney said. “This is a great way to top off the year.”

Following Hackney and Martens were Kansas’s Brent Chapman (47-14), Michigan’s Kevin VanDam (47-7), Oklahoma’s Jeff Reynolds (46-7) and Mississippi’s Pete Ponds (46-5).

Hackney fished a green pumpkin Strike King 3X finesse worm on a small jighead around secondary points in major creeks. He used spinning gear and 8-pound fluorocarbon line to work the bait slowly around ledges dropping from eight to 12 feet deep to catch his winning strings.

Hackney took a slim two-ounce lead over VanDam into the finals and was shocked when VanDam zeroed on the final day.

“It was unreal when Kevin didn’t weigh a fish,” Hackney said. “I almost lost my breath.”

“It was just one of those days,” VanDam said. “That’s fishing. I couldn’t buy a keeper, but I sure helped CITGO out today because I burned a lot of gas out there driving around the lake.”

Sunday’s Purolator Big Bass Award went to Mississippi’s Pete Ponds for his 3-14 lunker. Impressively, Ponds took big bass honors on three of the four days of competition, earning $1,000 for each lunker.

The only day that Ponds didn’t take big bass honors was Day Two, when Aaron Martens came to the scales with a nine-pound largemouth. Martens won $1,000 for the Purolator Big Bass of Day Two and an additional $1,000 for Purolator Big Bass of the tournament. That big fish was instrumental in Martens claiming the Angler of the Year title.

Angler of the Year runner-up, Marty Stone, was gracious in defeat and enjoyed a terrific year on the Tour. Had he made the cut to the semifinals, he and Martens would have battled things out on the water. He spoke highly of his friend, Martens, calling him a “world-class angler.”

“Let me tell you something about talking to Aaron. Ignore the ‘dudes’ and the ‘mans’ he loves to use, and listen to everything else,” Stone joked. “He’s an amazing fisherman and really deserves this honor.”

In addition to the money he earned for his big bass, Martens takes home $100,000 as Angler of the Year, $38,000 for his second-place finish in the tournament and another $1,000 for the Busch Heavyweight catch of the final day (12-11). His final round catch included four spotted bass and a largemouth, all caught on a drop-shotted Aaron’s Special Roboworm.

The CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Table Rock Lake will be telecast on The CITGO Bassmasters on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

BASS is the world’s largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments world-wide 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.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).

Local Sponsors include Kimberling City Lodging Association.