GROVE, Okla. — It's a good thing Aaron Martens is in eighth place after the opening day of the Sooner Run presented by Longhorn Tobacco on Grand Lake. And even still, Martens' wife, Lesley, was probably ready to commit spousal abuse if she could have gotten her hands on him during the tournament Thursday.But there was no way to reach Martens, even by cell phone. And even though Martens could hear his cell phone ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing.
"She probably called about 30 times," said Martens in his typical California native, laid back style.
Upon hearing that, Martens' co-angler said, "His phone rang for 40 minutes straight."
But Martens' didn't recognize the number showing up on his phone, so he let it ring. Besides, he was catching fish.
It turns out, Lesley was in a bit of a jam. The door lock on the Martens family travel trailer, parked in a Grand Lake campground, is "tricky," Aaron admitted. Lesly got tricked by it Thursday, resulting in her camper keys and her cell phone being locked inside the trailer while she was outside it.
Only slightly panicked at this point, Lesley tried to get in their pickup truck, didn't punch in the door code correctly and set off the vehicle's burglar alarm.It was with the truck alarm blaring, no camper keys and no cell phone, that Lesley obtained a friend's phone to try calling her husband.Got the picture? Lesley Martens was one deperate housewife Thursday. You can only imagine the wonderful thoughts running through her mind after dozens of unaswered calls to her husband.Lesley finally had to call a locksmith, who was able to open the camper door. Then she could reach her cell phone and, presumably, tell Aaron what a lovely day she'd had.Yes, it's a very good thing that Aaron Martens put himself in contention Thursday to win the $100,000 first place prize in the Sooner Run.
Timmy Horton turned in a solid day on the water with a ninth-place, 18-6 bag. But he somehow managed a wide smile in describing what would have been the biggest first-day bass of the Grand Lake Elite Series tournament, and might have held up as the biggest bass of the all four days."I had a heartbreaker this morning or I could have had a phenomenal day," Horton said. "I hooked one, and it felt like a three- or four-pounder. It was in the mud(dy water) so I didn't get a good lookat it. Then I started to swing it, and I realized it was a seven- or eight-pounder. I tried to let it back in the water, but by then it was too late. It broke me off."Horton will no doubt be tallying those pounds in his head as the Sooner Run heads into the weekend.
Fast and furious
Aaron Martens captured a similar weight (18-8) as Horton, as he too shared a few things with the fellow Alabaman. He estimated that he lost 10 fish Thursday, which included a fantastic block of bass catching action using a technique that he seems to think will translate to similar areas."I shared some water with Timmy today. There were also a few other guys looking around that kept their distance. But I'm not seeing a whole lot of what I was doing today," said Martens.
Despite the success, Martens says he'll probably fish another area on Friday, leaving behind the spot that rendered every-cast action for a two-hour stretch."There was a period there where I wish there was a camera boat," Martens said.
Though many anglers were reticent to give much in the way of details of their first day catch, there's little doubt that the deeper structure became a player in this tournament. If there was any further indication needed in proving the offshore bite would become a serious factor, witness the comments of noted flipper Tommy Biffle."I'm fishing the way I like to fish, but I don't think the big fish are up," Biffle said. "Tomorrow after I catch a limit I'm going to go out and fish deep."
Palmetto State helper
South Carolina's Marty Robinson turned in the most surprising bag of the tournament with his second place 20-0 limit. The young pro, who rooms with '07 Smith Mountain Lake Elite Series champ Casey Ashley, had a little help this week from a veteran of the BASS game.
Easley, S.C., resident Darrell Wilbanks, a BASS Top 100 competitior in the mid 1990s including a second place on the James River in 1995 before heart and lung ailments forced him to retire — has become somewhat of a mentor to the Palmetto State duo of Ashley and Robinson. He fished with Robinson this week
"I had never been on Grand lake before and I did it mainly to help settle him down," and also held his mobile phone to the speaker of the monitor backstage so that Robinson's wife could hear his weight and commentary as they happened.
"I called Marty as soon as he made the (Elite Series) Tour and offered to do whatever I could," said Wilbanks. "He's also from upstate South Carolina and it would be fantastic if he and Casey made the Classic. It's on his home lake. It's going to be a great thing for the juniors and the ladies as well."
Talking things up Much of the conversation at the weigh-in centered around the huge successes of anglers relative to the usual rampant poor-mouthing that takes place seemingly every tourmanent.While Gary Klein agreed there was some sand-bagging going on, he said that the short practice time — around two and a half days — has a lot to do with Elite Series pros making such dire predictions.
"These guys just don't have enough time to realize the potential of what they're on. That and the lake is fishing so different this year," said Klein, who sits in a three-way tie for 37th place with 14-15. "These guys always underestimate what they're on."Klein says that he finds that this group of anglers is also very good at paying attention to the proceedings of a tournament and using it to their advantage."We educate each other every week. And we're all getting better, better and different techniques, better way of running water," said Klein. "These guys are stout competitors. You can't have a bad day out here."
Editor's note: This week, ESPNOutdoors.com invited the University of Oklahoma bass fishing team to join coverage of the Sooner Run presented by Longhorn Tobacco. The collegiate anglers will post a regular blog on this site and appear on Hooked Up, the live Internet shows that air at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the live weigh-in. Daily live weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard will be at 4 p.m. ET. Please feel free to post comments to this blog via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.