Lessons from legends: Aaron Martens

I’ve been writing this column for a long time. And many of you may think it comes easy for me. But it doesn’t, I assure you. 

At times, I struggle just putting a few paragraphs together. But those times pale in comparison to the piece I put before you now, as I’m writing about a very special person — one who is among the most recognizable and celebrated anglers of all time. Aaron Martens was a friend who battled cancer and recently passed away. 

Aaron was an incredibly talented angler — a fishing savant, really. He had the ability to find and catch bass in any type of habitat. Wherever the tour took us, he found ways to fool fish the rest of us could never figure out.

In my opinion, he was the best to ever play the game. Certainly the most naturally gifted.

Aaron from the start

I first heard of Aaron when he was a teenager, shaking things up in the West. He earned WON Bass Angler of the Year honors as a teen in the early 1990s. Later in the decade, he began to come east to fish the national trails, competing in B.A.S.S. and FLW events. There, too, he proved his angling prowess — finding and catching fish his fellow competitors couldn’t. 

Because we both ran Ranger boats at that time, we got to know each other away from tournaments — through appearances and pro staff meetings. He was also a Shimano pro, which put us together for media and advertising gigs. The last commercial either of us shot was for Shimano’s new Metanium MGL III — a project that took us to Bienville Plantation in North Florida, two winters ago.