Being there is important for Lesley Martens, but this time wasn’t possible on such short notice.
Aaron Martens went into the Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair with a healthy lead in the Toyota Angler of the Year race. His seventh-place finish secured the AOY title early, even surprising his wife.
“When he called me the last day of the tournament and said he had 19 pounds, I’m like ooh,” she said. “I’m glad he wrapped it up, and I’m glad he’s leading by so many points, but we wanted to be there when he did it.”
That included daughter Jordan, whose birthday wish was for Daddy to release all his fish so the family could be together at the AOY Championship when he took the title. He couldn’t do that.
Almost three weeks will pass before the Martens see their three-time AOY winning husband and dad. They’re in Leeds, Ala., getting the school year started. Aaron had another fishing obligation then planned to get in some practice on Grand Lake for the Classic before heading to Sturgeon Bay.
"We kind of kicked around the idea of him coming home,” Lesley said. “We just felt like it was probably better for him to go on and get some practice on Grand Lake while it’s still hot.
“He always wants to fish and I’m OK with that. It used to bother me when we were first married, but now we’ve been married for so long, and that’s what makes him tick. He just loves fishing. That makes him happy. If it makes him feel good about his tournament coming up, I’m alright with that.”
Lesley, Jordan and son, Spencer, will get their personal congrats in at Sturgeon Bay. It’s become common with the schedule that the family is apart this time of year.
“It’s all good. We work it out,” she said. “The kids miss him, and he misses them and we miss each other, but we always just expect this long fall. It’s always like this. There’s six weeks where we don’t get to see him. This is like the hardest part of the year.
"It’s also kind of good, because the kids and I can get into a routine of them getting back to school. Because when he comes home it throws a monkey wrench in everything. He knows it, I know it, the kids know it. We’re alright with it. Getting into our pattern then we get to spend the whole winter together, which is nice.”
After the difficult time apart, it should be a pleasant off-season for the Martens.
Two in the well
Lesley Martens is well aware her husband has climbed into the upper echelon of B.A.S.S. fishing greats, and she knows his goal is to keep climbing. Her only beef is he needs to get more shuteye.
Aaron Martens is now one of five anglers with three or more AOY titles. He’s tied with Mark Davis and Bill Dance and trails only Kevin VanDam (7) and Roland Martin (9).
She enjoys his results, just not all his means. Martens is somewhat of a health nut, but not when it comes to getting his Zs. He works 20-hour days during tournament weeks, and Lesley’s not so sure that’s in line with a healthy lifestyle.
“The one thing I’m constantly fussing about is for him to get more sleep,” she said. “He does all this running and healthy eating, but he doesn’t get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll kill yourself.”
If the schedule allows, Lesley said he does sleep in when competitions are over.
“He definitely tries to catch up on his sleep when he gets home, if you can ever catch up on sleep, which I don’t think you can do,” she said. “All the sleep studies they’ve done, and how important sleep is, Aaron, I think, is taking years off his life.”
Sounds like he better listen.
Statistically, Aaron Martens had the best Elite season ever. Skeet Reese handed off that recognition to him in a Team Mercury video posted on Facebook.
“My best year, my history setting 2010 season, just got beat by Aaron Martens,” Reese opened with Martens standing alongside him.
“It did?” Martens asked incredulously.
“Yeah, you did,” Reese said. “If you finished 14th or higher, you now have officially the best season ever in the history of B.A.S.S.”
“I thought you were untouchable,” Martens said.
Reese had a dominant 2010 with two victories, two seconds, two fifths, a 48th and a 59th. This year, Martens had two wins and added a second, a third, a sixth, a 13th, 15th and 66th.
Totaling up Martens’ finishes gives 107 (that’s the total number of anglers in recent fields). Then dividing 107 by eight events gives an average placing of 13.375. Skeet’s average was 15.375, and he didn’t win AOY because of the scoring system of that year’s postseason events.
Martens has sewn up this AOY -- his 102-point lead cannot be overcome at Sturgeon Bay.
“It’s almost official,” Martens said on the video. “They say it’s not official, but really it is.”
Reese asked how it feels?
“It hasn’t set in yet. We’ve been so busy,” Martens said. “We made the 12 cut and it’s just been crazy busy. You’re talking to people, signing autographs. You don’t have time to let it set in.”
Four on the floor
Get out and vote!!
Not for the presidency, not yet anyway. Cast a ballot for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
The Classic is among some heavy hitting candidates for the Sports Travel Awards, given out in a variety of categories. In the Professional Single-Sport Event, the Classic is going up against the U.S. Tennis Open, the USA vs. New Zealand rugby match, the NHL’s Winter Classic and Super Bowl XLIX.
What’s with the rugby match?
Some are probably saying that very same thing about a fishing tournament.
And remember the Classic is probably the only event on the entire list of Sports Travel Awards entries that offers free admission. And it's a rather painless process. The only requirement to entering an email address.
So, let’s show them how much fishing and the Classic mean. Start a campaign, get all your friends to go the official ballot at sportstravelawards.questionpro.com and vote for the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, Greenville/Anderson, S.C.
Even if you also like football. Or rugby.
That’s a limit
Mark Menendez proudly announced on Facebook that his harassment case from the St. Lawrence event has been decided.
William Bishop of Rochester, N.Y., pled guilty to charges under the state’s hunting and fishing harassment laws, which protect outdoorsman on public lands and waters.
On the second day of the St. Lawrence River event, Menendez was confronted by Bishop and told not to fish his dock. A livid Bishop eventually got in his boat and drove circles around Menendez while his Marshal filmed his rant. Bishop was fined and paid $175.
“I'm very pleased with the outcome of the events,” Menendez said. “Many states have laws like this on the books. Hopefully this incident will not be replayed on the St. Lawrence River or other public waters.”
- The gratuitous big bass of the week is from Greg Watts, who’s fished in JM projects like the Redfish Cup and Madfin Shark Series. Here he gets to his roots with a 13-7 bass taken from and released in the private waters behind him.
- Cliff Crochet left the St. Clair event for the birth of his first child. He was calling it a Little Cajun Baby, but it’s more in the lunker range. Ben Michael Crochet was born 7 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long, and he and momma are healthy.
- Speaking of great moments, fan favorite Shaw Grigsby had the pleasure of walking his daughter, Amy, down the aisle for her wedding at the Sweetwater Branch Inn.
- Researching the Martens’ info above, I came across a fantastic story from longtime Bassmaster writer Steve Wright, who always seems to nail his reports with precise analysis. As a former slot editor at newspapers, I would read through wire service stories and columns to choose what we would run. Some stories you only read the first few graphs. Others you start and feel compelled to read it to completion. Wright’s “There is no win-win” is one of those stories.