NORTH EAST, Md. – With his second victory of the season already in hand, Aaron Martens did a whale of a good deed before leaving last week’s Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay.
Martens was filming an interview in his boat after Sunday’s championship weigh-in when a child fell off the dock at North East Community Park and surfaced in an obvious state of panic. The current leader in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings urged the young man to stay calm while he moved toward him with his trolling motor and then lifted him into his boat, mostly unharmed.
“He had been yelling ‘Aaron, Aaron’ and fishing off the dock with a jig while I was doing the interview,” said Martens, who won the event with a four-day total of 70 pounds, 2 ounces. “Then when I was finished, he asked if he could go fishing with me. I told him I was probably going to be busy with interviews and stuff for another couple of hours.
“Then a few minutes later, I heard a splash and looked around and he wasn't on the dock anymore.”
Martens said he believes the boy, who looked to be about 13 years old, probably just stepped off the dock by accident along the walkway portion where there is no guard rail. He panicked because the water was dirty, and he couldn’t see what was underneath him.
“I told him not to worry, there were no sharks,” Martens said. “But then he started trying to climb up the side of the dock on the pilings. I knew those things had bolts and probably line and fish hooks on them, and I was afraid he’d get hurt trying to do that.”
Martens said the boy had a scratch on his leg – probably from one of the bolts – and he was more embarrassed than anything else.
But Martens made him feel better by reminding him it can happen to anyone.
“I think he was just excited and made a wrong step off the dock,” Martens said. “I told him it was nothing to be embarrassed about. I told him the only time I’ve ever fallen out of my boat was when I accidentally stepped off the side. It’s just something that happens.”
Martens said the boy lost his sunglasses and dropped several of the free items he had collected at the weigh-in and adjoining expo. But Martens helped retrieve some of the free items, and several of them were fine after being cleaned.
The California native turned Alabama resident, who has a pair of victories on the Elite Series this year, was glad to see a happy ending.
“It certainly wasn’t the way he wanted it to happen when he asked if he could go fishing with me,” Martens said. “But he got to spend a few minutes in my boat.
"I’m just glad he was OK.”