Martens patience pays off

After being in a boat following Aaron Martens this morning, when he struggled to put a fifth keeper in the boat for three hours, I thought he might be ready to bail out of the Black River area where he'd been the past two days. He'd caught 17 pounds in the first two hours there Friday.

Before Steve Bowman and I left the water, we had a chance to talk with Martens for a couple of minutes. There was not a shred of panic in him.

"It's a timing deal," Martens said. "They're going to bite, probably about 1:00 or 1:30."

So it shouldn't surprise me that Martens caught a 4-pounder at 1:48.

"I had four like this yesterday," he said, as he put a new worm on his shaky head and cast back to the area where there has been a deep school of bass.

In year's past, I've been in the boat with our driver today, Brian Beebe, and photographer James Overstreet when we watched Martens catch fish in the Black River, which has produced second-, fifth- and 30th-place finishes for him in the previous three events here.

"Aaron hasn't burned a tank of gas in four years at La Crosse," said Beebe.

And Martens just showed us why.

Martens with five, finally

Aaron Martens went about three hours between his fourth and fifth keepers, but when No. 5 came it was a solid 2 3/4-pounder. Then he culled with another one shortly afterward. We think he’s got about 11 pounds. 

“It’s about timing,” Martens said. “They’re going to start biting in here.”

Martens struggling

Aaron Martens has now moved four times in the search for his fifth fish. He moved back under the I-90 bridge toward the takeoff site just now. Martens has caught several dinks that went right back into the Black River.

It will be interesting to see how Martens adjusts. Both he and Chris Zaldain have mentioned how quickly these areas replenish, so it may just be a timing deal. It would be somewhat shocking to see Martens bail on the Black River. This is where he’s finished second, fifth and 30th in the three previous Elite Series events here.

AOY race tightening up

Based on the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year tabulated from the Day 2 standings, the AOY race will tighten significantly after this tournament. However, those points aren't officially tallied until the standings are final after Day 4, and Brent Chapman has a chance to improve his first-place lead today.

Chapman's lead was 29 points after the Sabine River. Based on the Day 2 standings, when Chapman was 49th, his margin would have decreased to only nine points over Bradley Roy, 11 points over Josh Bertrand and 13 points over Aaron Martens.

However, all that is in flux today. And Chapman has to improve significantly from 49th place. BASSTrakk shows him in 35th place at 9 a.m.

Martens, Zaldain swap spots

Aaron Martens picked up his trolling motor at 8:15 and left "the juice" in one Black River area then ran the short distance to another spot. Chris Zaldain saw Martens coming, fired up the big motor and ran, apparently, to the spot that Martens just left.

The spot that Martens left is just that - a specific spot - on the west side of the Black River, where both he and Zaldain have caught significant weight the past two days. But this area, on the east side of the river, has lots of spots.

It will be interesting to see who catches what where now. Martens had 4 in the box and Zaldain had 1 when the switch was made.