“It’s time,” Martin said from his Naples home. “I’m 65 and my fishing has gone to pot. I haven’t done very well.
“I’m a really proud person, but I came to the conclusion that I can no longer compete with guys like (Michael) Iaconelli because they’re just fishing better than I am. It’s just the consistently crummy fishing I’ve had lately.
“Plus, I had a glorious fall season without worrying about tournaments. I killed a couple of moose in Alaska and a big elk in Utah. And I did all kinds of neat fishing. I went tuna fishing in Mexico. And I’m really enjoying myself. So I felt like it was time.”
Martin’s retirement harkens the end of an era.
It is fair to say Martin had as much to do with the growth of tournament bass fishing as any person. He was one of the pioneering anglers who toured the country with BASS founder Ray Scott, conducting fishing seminars and singing the praises of the fledgling organization.
His fishing exploits are unrivaled. A young Martin jumped on Scott’s fledgling circuit in 1970 by finishing second at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Many, La., and his career took off — finishing first or second in 14 of his first 23 tournaments. Today, his resume includes BASS records for victories (19), runner-up finishes (19) and CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles (nine). A member of the BASS millionaires club, Martin finished second to Rick Clunn in last summer’s ESPN Greatest Angler Debate presented by John Deere.
In 2005, Martin’s best finish was 16th place. “It’s time — in fact, it’s probably way past time,” the 25-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier said. “But I enjoyed it up to the end. I still enjoy the fishing.”
Martin will continue to film his long-running Fishing With Roland Martin television show and plans to compete in the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup, which airs on ESPN.
HAMILTON HEALING. 1992 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Robert Hamilton of Brandon, Miss., is recovering nicely from rotator cuff surgery. “I tore it back in July but had to wait for an opening in the schedule to get the surgery,” he said.
WELCOME HOME. Denny Brauer, the 1998 Classic champ, once returned home from a road trip to find his street’s name changed to conform with the 911 emergency system in the Camdenton, Mo., area.
The street sign reads: Bassmaster Drive.
“I had no clue they even knew who I was,” Brauer said. “But obviously they did.”
WEIRDEST CATCH. The weirdest item Chad Brauer ever caught was something that would undoubtedly please one of his sponsors.
“It would have to be on Lake of the Ozarks when I caught five cans of Budweiser out of a six-pack,” said the Missouri pro, who is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch Cos. “It was along the side of a dock. There was one can missing and I hooked the open ring with a jig, and dragged the rest of them in.
“I did not drink them. They were covered with algae and the ‘born on’ date had expired.”
DID YOU KNOW? Roland Martin finished fourth in his first (1971) and last (2003) Classic appearances.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Randy Blaukat of Lamar, Mo., turns 44 on Nov. 24. Florida’s Jim Bitter (63) and Connecticut’s Terry Baksay (45) share Nov. 28 as their birthday.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … Former Classic champion Davy Hite of Prosperity, S.C., would likely be a career officer in the South Carolina National Guard.
THEY SAID IT. “I’m just one of those people that, whatever I do regardless if it’s hunting or fishing or anything, I have to do it the best. It can’t be 99 percent. It has to be 110 percent. I think that’s what drives me the most. The other thing is my love for the sport. Fishing is my biggest passion and it has been most of my life.” CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Hackney.
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