Staying the course the rest of the season

Editor’s note: This column was written before part of Martin’s Elite Harris Chain catch was disqualified.

This has been an unusual year for me. There have been some highs and lows, but I have a game plan and I’m sticking to it.

For starters, I’ve had some great success in both of the Bassmaster Opens that I’ve fished. Winning the first one on my home waters of Lake Okeechobee and taking third place at Santee Cooper Lakes has balanced a tougher start to the Elite season.

I feel like I’m fishing good, but I’ve made some obvious mistakes the first part of the year when we went to Louisiana and Texas. I didn’t manage my time right in practice. I overlooked some obvious things right in front of me, so that was a little bit of a learning lesson.

I feel like I managed the Harris Chain well, but Lake Apopka was a bust. I can’t blame that on myself; something happened to that lake after the storm (that postponed the start), and I don’t understand. It didn’t muddy up the lake but whatever happened, it wasn’t normal.

Nobody who went there really caught ‘em. But, like I said on stage, under normal circumstances, I would do the same thing. Apopka was just a curveball for me this time.

At the St. Johns River, I feel like I did the best I could with two days of practice. What was frustrating was the fact I found something unique in practice, and I thought it was going to be something I’d have to myself.

I located these offshore bream beds, and I really thought that was something no one else had found. But the first day of the tournament, I went to my spot and there were several boats in the area.

So, overall, as we approach the midpoint to the season, I’d grade myself with a B-minus. I say that, but with me sitting 75th in points, maybe I should grade myself lower. But sometimes, things have to fall at the right time.

Even with a good plan, things don’t always work out as you want them to. But I’m not letting that get under my skin; I’m taking things a little differently this year.

With my 2025 Classic spot secured through my Open win, I don’t have the stress of worrying about Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. Of course, I want to do well in every event, but I believe the way I’m fishing will work out over the course of the season.

It’s really not about taking chances; I’m not gambling. I’m just more patient. I’m not pressured by the points race, so I’m taking my time and trying to do the things that will lead me to a win; not just a check.

That remains my ultimate goal — to win a blue trophy. I’ve won nine major events in my career, and I did that by chasing trophies, not checks.

At the beginning of the year, I told my wife I might do really, really bad in a few tournaments, but as long as I do well in one — mission accomplished.

I will say we’re getting into the time of year I really like. Starting the Elite season in Louisiana and Texas was a curveball for me, because over the course of my career, I’ve been used to starting in Florida. But that’s the thing about fishing at this level; you gotta catch ‘em wherever we go.

I’m looking forward to Lake Murray because I like the postspawn in the Carolinas. I like fishing in warmer weather, in general, but I’m also looking forward to our Northern smallmouth events later in the season.

In each of our remaining events, I’m going to follow my game plan and remain patient. I think this ability to relax is what will help me achieve my goal of winning a blue trophy.