Aaron Martens was already within ounces of the Mississippi River magic number - 16 pounds - and he was culling through 2-pounders in search of a kicker, according to photographer Andy Crawford.
And he found it - a 4-pounder - that puts him over 17 pounds today. When Crawford and his boat driver approached Martens to do a Skype session for "Bassmaster LIVE," Crawford asked Martens which side of the boat to approach.
"Either side," Martens said. "I've got 17 pounds. There's not much more I can do."
Martens was one of the favorites coming into this tournament, having finished second, fifth and 30th in the previous events at La Crosse. He's fishing in the Black River, where he always does, and where he's graphed about every inch of it, searching for subtle fish-holding structure. Martens is fishing deep, primarily with a spoon and a shaky head, catching strictly largemouth bass.
The one fly in the ointment, so to speak, for Martens is Chris Zaldain, who is also fishing here. Martens was hoping to save some of his spots in this area, but feels he can't afford to with Zaldain here too.