NEW ORLEANS -- Aaron Martens didn't think he'd be leading Day One of the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. "For some reason this event has me all twisted," he said on Tuesday. "I haven't had a chance to settle down and meditate on my tackle. I don't even know what to throw."
Then came the official and final practice day on Wednesday where everything changed. The cold water from a few days earlier had gotten warm, and the unhappy, cold fish were suddenly ready to spawn and aggressive. "The fish acted completely different on Wednesday," Martens said.
"That's all it took -- the temperature of the water and weather just needed to get better. It's that time of year, you get 60-degree water you should expect this." Martens insisted that despite the increase in spectator boats he undoubtedly will see on Saturday, he was happy to be leading the Classic, but it's still bittersweet.
Martens' father has a condition that has him basically paralyzed, so Martens mom, Carol, stayed behind with him in California. This is the first Classic she'd missed that her son is fishing. "I really don't expect to win this one but if I did, I would really want my mom to be here. It would be sad," he said on Tuesday. "I really wish she could be here."
The expectations changed when Martens caught 20 pounds, 7 ounces on Friday, but he said his motivation is the same: his family. Martens said they've taken his tough luck in past Classics, three second-place finishes, hard, and he wants to give them a chance to celebrate.
"They've cried more than me," he said. "I didn't really cry after the Pittsburgh Classic. I mean I was bothered by it with the throwing the keeper back and all the different things that happened, but my mom and kids were crying. I'd like to win to regain that moment and give it back to them."
Martens said his dad is healthy, but he can't move from his neck down, and this Classic is an opportunity to do something special for both his parents. "With the condition dad is in I'd like to win one sooner or later. He's still healthy, I'm not saying he's going anywhere, but you never know what might happen and I'd just really like to win one for that reason. I'd like to win more for my family than myself."