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Q: What's Your Take On Aaron Martens?

- Tom Michaels, Las Vegas

A: Color Martens A Way Different Champion

Photo of Angler of the Year Aaron Martens

Add my congrats to Aaron Martens on collecting his second Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.  There’s no question in my mind that he sits in that very top tier of all-time great pros.  There are just a handful of them and they are all different in so many ways.  Aaron’s just a little more different than the rest.

I came to understand this the first time I spent a day in the boat with him.  It was at the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh.  Aaron had finished second at the Lake Wylie Classic the year before and second place the year before that at the Classic on Lay Lake.

They let media guys spend the final practice day before a Classic in the boat with the competitor of their choice and I got my request for Aaron in early.  When he got in the truck where I was waiting to head for the launch, he let out that same groan you hear when he loses a good fish.  But this was the sound of actual physical pain.

“Oh man, I did like hundreds of squats last night and my hamstrings are on fire.  I don’t know how I’m going to be getting up and down today.”

Aaron was just coming out of his 20s, and I was guessing that he figured it was time to start getting ahead of the downward curve of physical fitness that starts to show itself in the 30s.

The groans would continue all day but Aaron did not fish any less as we made our way deliberately up the Monongahela River past abandoned steel mills that make some stretches look like a Tim Burton movie set.  It was so different from the deep little clear lakes where he cut his teeth in Southern California, fishing sometimes till the last minute before hopping on his bicycle to avoid the security guards on some of the private waters.  But Aaron was fascinated by the Monongahela and determined to find fish.

The places he would stop and really pick apart seemed to me some of the most unlikely spots, like the stretch against the bank where a giant pneumatic hammer on a crane was pounding in huge beams for a retaining wall.  Aaron fished it hard and caught a couple of good ones.

But one spot stands out in particular.  About 15 miles north of town there was a culvert in a little cove off the main channel. The pipe obviously connected to a factory up the hill.  Out of the culvert gushed a steady flow of a liquid the exact color of bubble gum.  Aaron rolled right up to it and began firing a spinnerbait.

I was speechless for a couple of minutes while he cast about a dozen times, picked up, and began to move on.  “Was that just for fun, or something?” I asked him.

“No -- I can’t believe I didn’t catch one there.  It looked pretty good.”

“Seriously -- have you ever caught fish in pink water before?”

He looked at me for a second.  “Oh dude, I’m totally colorblind.  Pink, huh?”

Aaron would finish a heartbreaking second place in the Classic four days later.  At the end of the week I concluded that the ability to see color in fishing was overrated.  And Aaron Martens was not. 

Previous Articles by Tommy Sanders

Q: Has anything really changed in bass fishing in the past 50 years?

A: New Bass Fishing Technology

Photo of a bass boat

Let’s quickly review the things that haven’t changed in the sport of bass fishing over the last half century: 

Bass.That’s it, and I’m not so sure that the fish haven’t slipped some changes in on me as well.But everything else has changed, and in this sport, unlike football or basketball, the changes have all been about advances in technology. Read More

Q: What is the best tactic for fishing in the spring?

A: Sight fishing is the battle of the brains

Xray image of a human brain

This is the time of the year when we celebrate the opportunity to catch spawning fish. It’s an important time for bass anglers — a limited, once-a-year opportunity. In fact, I think most bass fishermen should trade in one of their holidays from other times of the year and celebrate Spawning Day in spring or late winter, as the case may be. That would be well worth giving up a Labor Day or Presidents Day or even a Valentine’s Day if you can swing it.Read More

Q: Hey Q and A, why can't I take a banana with me when I'm fishing?

A. You said the word banana. I’m throwing you out of the magazine because you are an obvious bringer of bad luck.

Photo of bananas

Here’s why:  200 years ago, sea captains in the tropics would occasionally bring crates of bananas on board to supplement the ship’s food supplies.  These crates would harbor the occasional snake or spider.  When the captain found a snake in his chest of drawers or a spider in his drawers, there would be hell to pay.  No more bananas on the boat. And that’s the origin of the famous banana superstition. Read More

We Lost A Lot: Remembering Jose Wejebe

Photo of Jose Wejebe

The human mind will go through some incredible contortions when it’s confronted with something it cannot and does not want to come to terms with.

It will grasp for things like disbelief, denial, and the hope that somehow what’s happening is all a bad dream from which you will soon awaken. That’s the way it felt for all of us who knew the one and only Jose Wejebe. That’s the way it still feels, a few weeks into the aftermath of his passing. We lost a lot.

We met Jose 20 years ago at an event called the S.L.A.M. tournament in Key West, Fla., a celebrity event that paired famous sports and media figures with a local saltwater guide to make up a two-person team..Read More