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

  • B.A.S.S. Elite angler Aaron Martens is perennially ranked among the Top 10 in the US--and with an AOY title in 2013 and 2004, multiple tour-level wins, and over $2.6 million in career winnings, it is no question why Aaron continues to dominate the sport.

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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