Triton Lures CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Martens

Inside BASS

In a sponsorship change rarely seen with a reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Aaron Martens has joined the Triton Boats pro team.

The transplanted Californian, now living in Alabama, left Ranger Boats this month and agreed to terms with Triton, a primary sponsor of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail.

“I’m real happy to be with Triton,” Martens said. “My wife and I have been talking about this for five years. I really liked the boats when they first came out. I liked their design. I could tell how they were going to perform even before I drove one.

“The last few years, I’ve had the chance to fish out of Tritons on cut days (in tournament finals) and in the Classic. In Louisiana, I had a 100-mile run one way and it was rough. And I really got to experience how well a Triton performs.”

Martens also emphasized that the switch made financial sense since he is committed to the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series and has enjoyed a long association with Mercury Marine. Mercury’s parent company, Lake Forest, Ill.-based Brunswick Corp., purchased Triton from owner Earl Bentz earlier this year.

“What we saw in Aaron, obviously, was that he is a great fisherman, but he also has so much potential,” Triton vice president Neal Hart said. “He was being under-utilized. With such a name and such accomplishments, he has so much going for him.

“With his three second-place finishes in the Classic, we feel he deserved a change in luck. Maybe we can bring it to him. He certainly has the ability.”

PUROLATOR WINNER. BASS sponsor Purolator, a primary brand of ArvinMeritor, Inc., awarded a custom 21-foot Triton boat and 2005 Toyota Tundra double-cab 4x4 tow vehicle, used on the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament trail, to a lucky contest winner at his home near Chicago, Ill., last week.

The boat and truck were a grand prize package in a national sweepstakes won by Chris Reining of West Dundee. The Triton boat and Toyota truck, valued at $59,000, were delivered to Reining’s home Oct. 7.

“We've been extremely proud to be a premier sponsor of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament trail this year, at which we have met so many of our loyal customers,” said Dan Daniel, ArvinMeritor's senior vice president and president of its Light Vehicle Aftermarket organization. “This tournament sponsorship has been a venue that has allowed us to reach out and strengthen our relationship, while having some good times and enjoying some competitive bass fishing, a growing sport here in the United States.”

FATEFUL FISHING. You never quite know what Gerald Swindle is liable to do when it comes to fishing. The 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year recalls a time when he allowed fate to dictate his lure selection during a BASS event on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Mississippi.

“I picked a crankbait up out of the water that I saw floating down a canal at Columbus, tied it on and put new hooks on it,” Swindle remembered. “I wasn’t catching anything any other way. And the bait was nice and faded. I thought, ‘This looks pretty stupid. I’ll tie this on.’

It worked. I caught three keepers on it.”

WEEKEND HOME STRETCH. The 2005 ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series is entering its home stretch leading to its championship event — which will send the champion to the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla. on Feb. 24-26, 2006 — with this week’s first regional event on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Columbus, Miss. Anglers in the South Alabama, South Carolina , Virginia/North Carolina and Louisiana divisions are competing. At stake is $50,000 to the top pro and $25,000 to the top non-boater, as well as coveted invitations to the championship.

In addition, the weekend competitors will have another chance to qualify through a second-chance tournament the weekend of Nov.11-12 on Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin , Tenn. The tournament, which has no entry fee or prize purse, will send the top 10 boaters and non-boaters to the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series championship. That event will pay out more than $350,000, including $100,000 to the first-place boater and $50,000 to the winning non-boater. The anglers who advance also are guaranteed spots in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Northern or Southern Tour or the 2006 ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series division of their choice.

WEIRDEST CATCH. For a guy that is “scared to death of snakes,” one would think that Peter Ponds would not “mess with” a water moccasin swimming by his boat. Foolishly, that is not the case.

While fishing with 2005 BASS Federation Classic qualifier Jamie Fralick, the pro from Madison, Miss., hooked the big moccasin in the tail with a Pop-R topwater plug. “I pulled that snake behind my boat for probably 45 minutes trying to drown it,” Ponds said. “I never could.

“Finally I called my wife because she’s not afraid of snakes at all. She drives down the lake, gets in my boat, reaches down and grabs the snake behind the head. Then she unhooks it and throws it back in the water. And I got embarrassed.”

Imagine the ribbing Ponds will receive from his fellow pros once this story gets out.

DID YOU KNOW? 2003 Classic champion Michael Iaconelli’s hobby is collecting antiques.

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … “I’d probably be working at a toll booth,” Arizona pro Andre Moore said, laughing. “No, I’d probably be doing graphic design or advertising design. I went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. My specialty was mostly line drawing and typography, but there’s not much call for typography now with computers.”

THEY SAID IT. “It didn’t look too good at the end, did it? I guess I can always go to work as a Wal-Mart greeter.” Arkansas pro Jimmy Mize quit his job as a machine tender at a paper mill after 28 years just before the Classic in July, where he was the first-round leader before dropping down the leaderboard to eventually finish in 16th place.

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BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation 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 CITGO 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 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.