MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Aaron Martens is on a roll. Last Wednesday he won the U.S. Open on Lake Mead, then started rolling down the highway, about 1,700 miles, arriving here by noon Friday for a half-day of practice before the Ramada All-Star Semi-Final.
Apparently, that was plenty of practice time, as the 38-year-old Leeds, Ala., angler finished third in the two-day event at Lake Jordan.
“When you win a tournament, you get fired up,” Martens said. “I’m fired up.”
He’ll need to be. Martens’ first-round opponent is Edwin Evers, who not only finished second this season in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, but also was second in last year’s postseason event on the Alabama River.
Seven-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam has had an edge on Evers in the last two years, but he’s the only Elite Series angler who has.
“That’s probably the toughest one to call,” said VanDam when predicting the outcome of Friday’s first-round matches. “Aaron is the best spotted bass fisherman I know, and he’s got a lot of history on that river.
“But Edwin has also fished there multiple times. And Edwin knows exactly where I fished last year. He’ll catch them there, too.
“One of those two is my pick to win it all.”
When pressed to choose a winner, VanDam went with Evers.
Bassmaster TV show co-host Mark Zone followed suit in noting the intriguing aspects of this pairing, saying, “I know Aaron has a ton of momentum, but I think Edwin Evers is the most dangerous fisherman in this top eight.”
Evers, 36, is from Talala, Okla. Last year on the Alabama River, it was a family affair for Evers, when he took second place and his brother-in-law, Terry Butcher, finished third.
This year, Evers already has VanDam out of the way -- although he again finished second to KVD in the AOY race - and he’s got a chance to prove just how dangerous he can be.
There are four matches in the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship on the Alabama River starting Friday.
The Martens-Evers winner advances to fish Saturday against the winner of No. 1 seed Casey Ashley and No. 8 seed Skeet Reese. On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed Ott Defoe and No. 7 seed Mike Iaconelli face off with that winner meeting the Terry Scroggins-Gerald Swindle winner on Saturday.
The one-on-one title will be decided Sunday, with $100,000 on the line in the winner-takes-all format.
- Steve Wright