Martens caught five bass Friday weighing 17 pounds, 0 ounces, for a two-day total of 33-0, and a 10-ounce margin over Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., who caught five bass weighing 13-12 for a two-day total of 32-6. Weights are zeroed for Saturday’s competition and only the top six competitors will qualify for Sunday’s final day of action and have a shot at the $250,000 top prize.
Fishing fans can catch tournament coverage of the Bassmaster Legends at 9 a.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 1, on The Bassmasters on ESPN2.
Martens made the cut in the 2005 Bassmaster Elite 50 at Lake Dardanelle, which featured a similar format to the Bassmaster Majors. Thus, the four-time BASS winner is very familiar with the six-hole “course” which the 12 semifinalists will fish in Saturday’s third round of action in a timed, rotating manner. A little cloud cover, he said, will make his birthday even happier.
“If we get the slightest bit of cloud cover, it’ll be amazing,” said Martens, a California native who won the Bassmaster Elite Series event on the California Delta in March. “I hardly scratched the surface in the course two years ago. Each hole has got offshore stuff. There are piles of offshore, man-made structure. If I catch them shallow, I’ll still try to get something going offshore.”
Martens anticipated making the semifinal round, but he also said he was surprised that the weights were so high. At the end of the day, he caught a bass that weighed 5-1 that sealed the deal.
“I expected to do as well as I did,” said Martens, who has amassed more than $1 million in BASS career earnings. “I caught 40 or 50 bass a day, and about 10 or 12 keepers. I figured if I got a limit each day, I’d have a good chance to make it.”
Martens said the “course” is different than what he fished in the first two rounds. To adjust, he said he’ll have to be more versatile.
“I’ve got to be open minded,” Martens said. “I’ll have 13 or 14 rods on the deck instead of six. I’ll have baits tied on that I haven’t thrown yet.”
Like Martens, who said Lake Dardanelle reminds him of the California Delta, Hackney compared Dardanelle to the lower Arkansas River, where he fished for most of his formative years. He parlayed the similarities into a shot at $250,000.
“The main thing is that I’ll be able to get in those ‘holes,’ and I qualified,” said Hackney, 33. “Now, I’ve got to figure out what is the deal and how to catch them in those areas.”
With 18-10 going into Friday’s round, Hackney said he knew a limit would be enough to make the cut. When he caught five keepers, the three-time BASS winner said he relaxed and prepared for Saturday.
“Normally, I have to grind it out until the end, and at the end of the day and I’m mentally and physically exhausted,” the 2004 Toyota Rookie of the Year said. “This week I’ve been very blessed. Of course, tomorrow the mental and physical stress will be at the maximum.”
Rounding out the top five were three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., in third with 32 pounds, 1 ounce; Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Ariz., in fourth with 31 pounds, 0 ounces, and two-time BASS winner Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., in fifth with 30 pounds, 4 ounces.
Also qualifying for Saturday was defending Legends champion Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., in sixth with 28 pounds, 3 ounces, and 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., in ninth with 25 pounds, 8 ounces.
Meanwhile, Rick Coker of Little Rock, Ark., who served as Oklahoman Tommy Biffle’s observer Friday, won a Triton boat package. Biffle scored the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, a 5-11 brute, allowing Coker to win the prize offered to observers in Bassmaster Majors competition.
The top six anglers will also fish the six-hole course Sunday in a timed, rotating manner.
Live, streaming video of the weigh-ins and real-time leaderboards can be accessed on www.ESPNOutdoors.com. Saturday and Sunday, visitors to www.ESPNOutdoors.com can view live action from Hole 6 on the six-hole course throughout the day. On the final day of competition, www.ESPNOutdoors.com will provide updates throughout the day and preview the final-day weigh-in with Hooked Up, hosted by Tommy Sanders and ESPN2 Outdoors personality Mark Zona.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors of the Bassmaster Legends presented by Ramada Worldwide include Russellville Advertising and Promotion.
Bassmaster Majors Sponsors: Sponsors of the Bassmaster Majors include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Costa Del Mar, Ramada Worldwide and Evan Williams Bourbon.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.Bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.