Another Thrift Thrashing (on the Vision 110!)

ROGERS, Ark. – The 2010 tournament season was a rollercoaster ride for Bryan Thrift. He claimed his first Walmart FLW Tour win on his home lake in front of family and friends. A few months later, he won the coveted Angler of the Year award. But Thrift also remembers 2010 for what he lost – his father, Tommy, to cancer. But 2011 couldn’t have started any better. Thrift and his wife, Allison, are proud parents to newborn baby Wylie Thomas. And at Wylie’s first tournament, his dad delivered another textbook thrashing.

Not too long ago, Thrift was known as a dock skipper and a bank burner. But as he ages, his angling arsenal continues to diversify. This week on Beaver Lake he demonstrated the ability to master cold water and make key adjustments in the tournament’s final hours.

On day one Thrift caught three quality keepers and then left his primary area. He was hoping to find a few kicker largemouths in Beaver’s muddy water, but he returned empty-handed.

“I thought after the first day I was done,” said the Shelby, N.C., native, who sat in 36th place. “I ran up the river and never got bit. Little did I know, where I left was where the big ones were at.”
The exclamation point: Bryan Thrift seals victory with a 4-pounder
After a tip from friend and fellow North Carolina pro Matt Arey, Thrift put on a jerkbait clinic. Throwing to water waist deep, Thrift would work a Megabass Vision 110 as hard and fast as possible over rock piles and timber in the Rocky Branch area of the lake.

“Matt really showed me what I was doing wrong. Once I got the action right, I really figured it out. I ripped that thing until my arms got tired, and I then I’d rest and rip it some more. And the key for me was that 6-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Damiki Dark Angel rod. It’s got backbone, but it’s also got a lot of tip, which is the exact action you want in a jerkbait-crankbait rod.”

While the Vision 110 (Pro Blue) was his primary lure, Thrift also weighed in a few keepers this week on a bluegill-colored Damiki DC-200 crankbait. Both were tied to 10-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon.

While Thrift stunned the crowd Saturday with a 20-pound, 8-ounce stringer, Sunday was much more stressful.

“I caught a 4-pounder in the first 20 minutes, and then it really got tough. At about 1 p.m. I decided to abandon my shallow-water program and fish deep cedar trees. At the time I only had three fish. Instead of working the bait fast, I’d dead-stick it and let it fall for 20 or 30 seconds, all the way down.”

That late-game adjustment made all the difference as Thrift filled out his limit. But he didn’t seal the deal until the closing moments.

“With about 10 minutes left in the day I pulled into Prairie Creek, about half a mile from the takeoff, and Pro winner Bryan Thrift celebrates his second FLW Tour win with his wife Allison and son Wiley.threw my jerkbait beside a cedar tree. It’s sinking down through there, and my line jumps and I catch a 4-pounder right before weigh-in. Hands down, that was the winning fish.”

The Chevy pro then reflected on his latest milestone.

“I don’t want to slow down,” said Thrift, who has posted seven top-10 finishes and two wins in the last eight events dating back to the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup. “I want to catch them everywhere I go. That’s my goal.”

He said this win might mean more to him than last year’s triumph at Norman, his first Tour win.

“I’d have to say it is, even though this one wasn’t at home with a bunch of friends and family around. But it’s my first win with my new son, Wylie. It was his first tournament, and he got to see me win.”

For a total weight of 54 pounds, 8 ounces, Thrift earned $125,000. He also set the record Saturday for heaviest single-day catch on Beaver Lake.

King rallies to second

At the day-three weigh-in, veteran pro Stacey King made a prediction that not bringing in a fifth fish Stacey King rose to second place after catching a final-day stringer weighing 16 pounds, 12 ounces.would come back to haunt him. At the time, King was more than 5 pounds behind Ron Shuffield and Thrift. But true to form, King made a huge rally, only to come up 2 pounds, 2 ounces short – approximately the size of a decent Beaver Lake keeper.

“It cost me the tournament, there’s no doubt about it,” said the Reeds Spring, Mo., pro. “I had a great week; I hate that I didn’t win, but I’m not upset.”

For most of the week, King used a Storm Wiggle Wart and a Megabass Vision 110. But being the wily veteran that he is, King had an inkling it was time to bail on the jerkbait.

“I wasn’t real confident getting bit in the calm, clear conditions. So I switched to a Cordell Super Shad tailspinner, and it worked great. When it’s still and bright in the Ozarks, it can be a great little bait. But that lure is probably 25 or 30 years old; they no longer make it.”

King would cast the tailspinner out into trees 20 to 40 feet deep and pump it off the bottom. On day four he weighed in three largemouths and smallmouths for a total of 16 pounds, 12 ounces. Of the five he weighed, four came on the tailspinner, the other on the Wiggle Wart. He also culled eight or 10 keeper spotted bass on the tailspinner.

King fished the Rambo and Van Hollow creek arms, which are generally considered midlake.

For finishing in second place with 52 pounds, 6 ounces, he earned $35,000. In approximately two months, the Tour heads to Table Rock, King’s home lake.

Shuffield falls to third

After catching 16-4 and 18-10 on days two and three, EverStart pro Ron Shuffield fell back to earth EverStart pro Ron Shuffield finished the Beaver Lake event third with 49 pounds, 4 ounces.Sunday, catching three bass weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces. Shuffield knew the high-pressure system, complete with bluebird skies and calm winds, would hurt his jerkbait bite, but he stuck to his guns.

“What really killed me was the lack of wind, and I knew it would,” said the Bismarck, Ark., native.

Shuffield fished Indian Creek, near the Starkey Marina and close to the dam in an effort to fish new water every day. Above all, he tried to fish cover that wasn’t obvious and hadn’t been pounded on during the four-day tournament. Some of his best spots had isolated rock formations, located halfway to the backs of the coves. Shuffield explained that the bass are trying to move into their spawn areas, so they’re staging and suspended over water 20 to 35 feet deep.

All week long, he kept three rods ready on the deck. One had a Storm Wiggle Wart tied on, and the other two featured Megabass Vision 110 jerkbaits. All three were tied to either 8- or 10-pound Berkley 100% fluorocarbon.

“The jerkbait accounted for a little more than half of my fish, but the occasional Wart fish seemed to be the bigger ones. Today I didn’t get a bite on the Wart; all three came on the Vision 110.”

For a total weight of 49 pounds, 4 ounces, Shuffield earned $30,000. He finished second last year in similar jerkbait conditions on Table Rock Lake.

Blaukat fourth

Pickens Plan pro Randy Blaukat rallied to fourth place on a strength of a 14-pound, 13-ounce limit.Pickens Plan pro Randy Blaukat improved his weight every single day of the four-day tournament. On day one he caught 9-5, and on day two he registered 11-13. Yesterday he caught 12-9, and today he finished with 14 pounds, 13 ounces for a total of 48-8. While it looks great on paper, Blaukat struggled for much of the day Sunday.

With only two fish at noon, he left his spot near Hickory Creek and returned to Prairie Creek. But instead of targeting the same fish he did the first three days, he backed off and fished deeper.

“I was fishing in like 8 to 10 feet of water, and I then I moved out to 12 to 19,” said the Joplin, Mo., pro. “That was a key move as the fish had pulled out with that front. I ended up culling three times.”

Blaukat used two baits all week – a Megabass Vision 110 Silent Riser and a Megabass Live-X Revenge, which has a longer bill and thus dives deeper. Both were tied on to 6-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon.

His day-four limit consisted of four largemouths and one spotted bass. For fourth place, Blaukat earned $25,000.

Arey fifth

If the $125,000 purse was awarded to the angler who caught the most keepers during the week, then Matt Arey fights a 3-pounder to the boat.Arey would be heading back to Shelby, N.C., with a much larger bank account. During the first three days of competition, Arey was averaging approximately 30 keepers per day – absolutely unheard of on Beaver Lake. His bite slowed considerably Sunday, but he capitalized on the six bites he received and finished the day with 12 pounds, 10 ounces. Arey’s four-day cumulative weight registered 48 pounds, 4 ounces, good enough for fifth place and $20,000.

“I caught every fish this week throwing a Megabass Vision 110 on 8-pound P-Line fluorocarbon,” he said. “I was fishing mostly in the back two-thirds of the Blackburn arm. I would put my boat in about 20 to 35 feet of water, and the fish were positioned in 7 to 18 feet.”

Arey used an ultrafast motion with his jerkbait to trigger reactions strikes. And after day one, he told his good friend Thrift about it.

“You can’t give a machine extra oil. Then it was game over.”

Arey also finished fifth at the 2008 event on Beaver. That tournament saw vastly different conditions as the water was extremely high and warm.

For the complete article, please follow this link: http://www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing/flw/tournament/2011/6547/beaver-lake-headline-story/152031/another-thrift-thrashing/

Article reproduced courtesy of www.flwoutdoors.com

For the FLW Reeltime Report with details on Thrift's winning jerkbait pattern, click here: http://www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing/flw/tournament/2011/6547/beaver-lake-video/152033/reeltime-report-day-4-beaver-lake/

Aaron Martens - The Making of a Bass Super Star

I know, I know, this blog is suppose to focus on all things related to fishing in Central Canada.  But let me spread my wings a little further afield today and comment on last weekend's Bassmaster Classic because I am still flying on Cloud 9.   

Two good friends and supremely talented anglers, Kevin Van Dam and Aaron Martens fought it out for the win.  In the end, Kevin was first and Aaron was second - for the 4th time in his short but illustrious professional fishing career.  In the process, the pair shocked the bass fishing world with their record book catches.  

(B.A.S.S. / Jason Cohn)

Believe it or not, I've been privileged to know Aaron since he was a personable young kid in his early 20s, when he was just starting out on the professional tournament trail.  And let me tell you, even back then, when we were fishing together for muskies in Northwestern Ontario, a species he'd never before even seen, you could tell he was destined for greatness.   

How Aaron got into bass fishing, though, is an interesting story in itself.  It was because of his mom, Carol, who is a dear, dear friend and one of the best bass anglers on the planet!  

Living in Los Angeles, Carol used to take her three sons fishing at Malibu.  While the boys caught mackerel from the southern California pier, Carol would walk the famous surfing beach and enjoy the sun.  In the evening, she’d gather up the clan and head home.  

Then one day, the fishing gods intervened. When she was picking up the boys, her youngest son, Aaron, hooked a spirited fish.  Not wanting to leave quite yet, he handed the rod to Carol and implored, “C’mon, mom, reel it in.” It may have been the smartest thing the fourteen year old ever did.    

“It was so much fun reeling in that mackerel,” Carol remembers these many years later, “that we decided to stay a few extra hours. Then we began getting up at sunrise and fishing in the surf. We’d catch a halibut on every cast.”  

(What you see is what you get - one the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.    Photo B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito)

Eventually Carol and Aaron graduated from catching mackerel and halibut at Malibu to fishing for bass and crappies in the mountain reservoirs that supply water to Los Angeles.  Famous bass lakes like Casitas, Castaic and Pyramid.  

Then fate intervened a second time.  

“We'd rented a small aluminum boat and motor at Casitas,” Carol remembers, “the same day that a bass tournament was underway. We watched the boats launching and the blast off and Aaron turned to me and said, “That is what I want to do.”    

The die was finally cast a few weeks later when the Martens rented a boat up on Pyramid Lake, a small reservoir snuggled in the steep sided mountains outside of the city.   

“At $60 a day it was getting expensive to rent boats all the time,” Carol remembers. “And the wind was howling so hard and the water was so rough, I decided if Aaron and I were going to do this all the time we needed a boat and motor of our own.”  

So, Gerry (Carol’s husband, who is a passionate back packer and mountaineer having trekked around the world), Aaron and Carol headed for the Sport Show in nearby Long Beach, looking for, as Carol recalls, “An aluminum cheapo for $3000.”  

They found a $30,000 bass boat instead  

“I am not a compulsive shopper,” Carol laughs, remembering the event as though it was yesterday, “but I saw this magnificent Ranger bass boat.  I touched it, turned around and said to Gerry, “I want it.” Gerry said, “You can’t have it.” And we had a 3-hour argument right there on the spot.  Meanwhile, Aaron just stood in shock. We’d never even been in bass boat before.  We’d never even towed a boat. In fact, we didn’t even have a vehicle that could pull it.”  

In the end, perseverance ... and fate for the third time … won the day. The Martens owned their first boat.  A shiny metal flaked Ranger 388 with dual consoles pushed by 175 Mercury horses. It was time for serious fishing.  

“The first tournament Aaron and I ever entered was a West Coast Tournament event,” Carol remembers. “We finished third and cashed a cheque. We were ecstatic. Our first big win was at Casitas when we finished third. Then we got on a roll.”  

A roll indeed.   

Gerry Martens remembers that when Carol and Aaron would walk through the front door after a tournament, he wouldn’t even ask how they had fared. “I’d simply say, “How much money did you win this time?” he remembers with a wide proud smile.  

By 1994, Carol and Aaron Martens were winning everything in sight. That is the year they captured Team of the Year honours on the Southern California W.O.N. Circuit, Team of the Year title on the North ABA (American Bass Association) trail and Team of the Year in the W.O.N-dering Division.  

But Carol says the most exciting day was when she and Aaron won the Tri-State (Arizona, New Mexico and California) WON tournament on Lake Mead.   

“It was the dead of summer and the temperature was 120 F every day of the tournament,” Carol recalls. “We won our first Ranger boat, motor and trailer and Aaron and I were on cloud nine. We sold it and split the winnings.”  

By 1995 there was little left for the Martens to prove.  So Aaron turned pro.  It was a wise decision.  He won three bass boats, motors and trailers in three successive tournaments over a three-month period.  

Then, in 2000, after rising to the top of the professional level in California, Aaron set his sights on the biggest prize of all. The Bassmaster tournament trail.  

“Gerry and I will never forget the B.A.S.S. event on Lake Mead,” Carol remembers. “We were on a business trip in Mexico and Aaron phoned us to say that he had won. He was only 28 years old and he was in shock.”  

Since that time Aaron's been on a rocket ride to the top of the sport winning the Bassmaster Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title in 2005, and finishing in the runner-up spot in the 2002, 2004, 2005 and 20011 Bassmaster Classics.  And get this: he has finished in the money in 109 of the 148 tournaments he has entered, accumulating almost $1.75 million in winnings.   

So it is a safe bet we're going to be seeing Aaron Martens standing on the stage soon, with the television cameras rolling and the press flashes popping while he holds the Classic trophy high.   And when he does, you can bet he'll remember being a 14-year old, fishing on the pier at Malibu Beach, handing his rod to his mother and saying, “C’mon mom, reel it in.”  

(B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito)

For the original article by Gord Pyzer, please follow the link below: http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/users/gord-pyzer/blog/aaron-martens-the-making-of-a-bass-super-star-70262.aspx

Bassmaster Classic 2011

In a historic Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta, Megabass pro Aaron Martens turned in a remarkable performance, bringing in a total of 59lbs over three days of competition. Aaron's total weight beat the 56lb. 2oz. Classic record set by fellow Megabass pro Luke Clausen in 2006, and powered him to his fourth 2nd place finish in the Classic in just nine years.

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