The next generation

About the author

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens is the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a four-time runner-up in the Bassmaster Classic. He's widely regarded as the best natural angler in the Elite Series.

Last week, after the Falcon Slam Elite Series event, I had a pretty special thing happen. I took Jordan, my 9-year-old daughter, out for an hour of fishing. That hour went from a typical hour of fishing to a magical hour on the water in just a few casts. Jordan proceeded to catch a 10 pound bass and a bunch more in the 6- to 8-pound range. It was definitely the most fun I have had on the water in a long time, and I only caught one smaller fish.

It all started when we set out to catch a 1 or 2 pound fish for a video we're putting together for another project. What happened next was simply amazing, and we caught a lot of it on video. Jordan hooked into a 5- to 6-pound fish, and she was thrilled about that. The next cast she hooked into the 10 pounder you might have seen on video here on Bassmaster.com or on my Facebook page. She caught quite a few fish in a little over an hour, and we giggled for hours afterward. It still makes me smile when I think about it.

There's something special about seeing someone you love catch a giant fish. It can be your son, daughter, mother, father or anyone else that you love. It's definitely one of my greatest experiences with one of my kids. It wasn't that long ago that my mom was taking me fishing as a kid. Those memories are still fresh in my mind, and I'll cherish them forever.

We never thought about catching so many big fish. That's what makes fishing so special; you can almost expect the unexpected, but this brings me to one of my biggest concerns about our great sport the catch and release of big fish.

There are many lakes around the country that have the potential of being like Falcon large fish lakes. Unfortunately, there are too many people catching and keeping giants. I understand that it's everyone's right to catch and keep as many fish as is legal in the given state. What concerns me most is when the fish are big.

There are many reasons to release big fish. First, it's a fish others would enjoy catching in the future. Second, the biggest fish have the best genes and chances for the offspring to also grow to be big. Two other facts are just as important: big fish generally don't taste as good as smaller ones, and big fish contain more contaminants than smaller fish.

There really isn't a good reason to keep big fish. For bragging rights, take pictures and video, and if you want to have the fish mounted, get the measurements and some quality photos. From there you can have a fiberglass reproduction made. It will not only look better, it'll last a lot longer, too.

Keeping the legal limit of smaller fish is a much better option. In a lot of cases, it will help the fishery. Three to five fish in the 1- to 2-pound range should feed any family if you're looking to make a meal from your fishing trip.

In closing, I'd just like to say that I hope you can share the love of our sport with others. Special times like Jordan and I shared are what the sport is all about.

And remember to release the big fish you catch so others share the experience.

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