Martens Feeling The Heat

ZAPATA, Texas — Aaron Martens woke up at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, way before his alarm clock was set to go off. And he admitted to being nervous prior to the 8 a.m. takeoff for the final day of the Lone Star Shootout presented by Longhorn.

 With only a 7-pound, 7-ounce lead over Mark Davis, considered one of the best post-spawn bass fishermen in the pro ranks, Martens had reason to have a case of the nerves.

 "This is good weather," Martens said of the overcast skies and light breeze. "It's got me nervous though. I've got to catch 'em.

 "I've got to catch probably 35 pounds. That's a big bag. I haven't caught many bags over 30 pounds, especially in tournaments. It's nerve-wracking. And then you think about how good this lake is, and that settles your nerves a little bit. It settles my nerves when I think about all those 6-pounders I was throwing back the first day."

 Martens might have been a little more unsettled if he knew that Davis had put 27 pounds, unofficially, in the boat by 10:45 Sunday morning. With 102-1 going into the day, Steve Kennedy's BASS four-day, total-weight record of 122-14 is unofficially history. (There was no word on what Martens, or any other of the 12 Sunday finalists, had at 10:45.)

 But that record has been all but history since the Day Two weigh-in at Falcon Lake, widely proclaimed by the Bassmaster Elite Series pros as the "best bass fishing lake in the world" here this week.

 Martens, who ranks 14th on the all-time BASS money list with over $1.1 million in tournament prize money, entered Sunday with a previously unrecorded three-day weight of 109-8.

 "You never know what you've got to do to win a tournament," Davis said, "because you never know what the other guy is going to catch. But I feel like I've got to catch a minimum of 32 (pounds) to have a shot. That's because 25 is pretty easy to come up with here. If Aaron had a mediocre day and caught 25, and I caught 32, I could catch him.

 "Thirty-seven would give me a better chance. I've probably got to have the best day I've had all week, but you never know."

 Martens bagged 42-0 Thursday, the second largest single-day, five-bass limit in BASS history. Davis is the only angler to weigh in 30-plus-pounds all three days. His best was 35-4 on Thursday.

 Lurking in the minds of all 12 finalists is the conservatively estimated 48 pounds Matt Reed caught one day this week during practice. Davis has said after each of the past two weigh-ins that 50 pounds was conceivable.

 Davis and Martens are fishing two different areas of Falcon. Davis is in the Veleno River; Martens and almost all the other finalists are in Tiger Creek.

 Martens will be able to keep an eye on Byron Velvick, who is in third place with 101-12, less than 8 pounds back. Those two shared an unbelievable hole of water in Tiger Creek for two days.

 Combined with their co-anglers weights, this one spot sent over 270 pounds of bass to weigh-in scales, and that didn't count all the 4-, 5- and 6-pounders the anglers culled. However, it quit producing on Day Three, when both pros weighed their lightest bags of the tournament.

 Velvick was going back there Sunday morning. Martens planned to start on another offshore spot he'd found that was close by.

 "But I'll be watching Byron," Martens said. "I've got eyes like a hawk, and he's only about two-thirds of a mile away. If he catches one, I'm over there."

 After they thought about it, Martens and Velvick thought spectator boat traffic might have contributed to the failure of the sweet spot to produce for a third straight day.

 They know they've put a hurt on it, but the replenishment rate and the numbers of bass in Falcon make you re-think all conventional bass fishing wisdom. Martens and Velvick were first and second in the standings after two days.

 "I think it hurt us that first and second were on one spot," Martens said. "There were boats all around us. The fish were in the middle, and they didn't like that very much. If we can keep them to one side, it won't hurt it as much."

 Sunday's weigh-in begins at 5 p.m. at the Zapata County Public Boat Ramp, where BASS Expo activities will begin at 1 p.m.

 If nothing else, Kennedy's four-day BASS record will officially become history shortly after 5 o'clock. But Sunday's weigh-in also promises the awarding of a $100,000 check to the winner. And every weigh-in on Falcon Lake this week has had more than its share of thrills in the form of lunker largemouth bass.

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