Martin continuing a family tradition

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Of all Roland Martin’s legendary accomplishments in the world of fishing as a whole and bass tournament fishing in general, one thing stands above all the rest. It’s the absolute joy Martin continues to have for fishing.

When reached by phone earlier this week at home in Clewiston, Fla., Martin wanted to expound on the outstanding week of bass fishing he’d just experienced on Florida’s Headwater Lake.

“Come by and see me at the Bass Pro Shops booth (at the Classic Expo),” Martin said. “I’ll be telling stories nobody is going to believe. I’ve had an incredible fishing week. One day we had 27 over five pounds. We’ve caught 8s, 9s, 10s, 12s.”

Martin didn’t catch those bass, his clients did, on live shiners that Martin captured with a cast net. If you’ve ever guided other anglers, and if you’ve ever thrown a cast net repeatedly, you know that’s usually a young man’s game. Roland Martin will 82 years young on March 14.

“The Great American Fisherman” has two lifetimes of achievements in B.A.S.S. – nine Angler of the Year titles, 19 tournament titles and 25 Bassmaster Classic qualifications. But there are two things he never did – 1) win a Bassmaster Classic, and 2) watch his son, Scott, compete in a Bassmaster Classic. The second one gets checked off the list Friday.

Scott Martin, 46, qualified for his first Classic through the Bassmaster Elite Series last year. That, after winning over $3 million and putting a Roland Martin-like stamp on the FLW Tour for many years.

“It’s special to be here,” said Scott, Thursday during media day on the eve of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. “I’ve probably been to more Classics than anybody here competing. I’ve done everything from being a spectator, being a family member watching my dad go around the arena, being here working for sponsors and being a boat cleaner.

“This will be my first time competing as an angler. I’m excited about that. My dream in coming over to B.A.S.S. was to win the Classic. It’s something that eluded my dad for all those years. This is a special opportunity for me.”

Scott Martin has seemingly always been a confident bass tournament angler. How could the son of Roland Martin not be? He knows his emotions will be riding a rollercoaster when the tournament begins Friday.

“I feel really good right now,” he said. “But there will be a series of emotions at some point tomorrow, probably at blastoff and probably as the curtain opens as I go through that arena and look over and see my dad up there in the stands. Whether I have a big bag or not, it’s going to be a special day.”

When asked what characteristic of his father had most influenced him, Scott didn’t hesitate with an answer, saying, “His passion and his ability to never give up. He fished from daylight until dark. He was truly excited about all aspects of fishing. I’ve been fishing with him many, many times. I’ve never heard him say, hey, it’s getting cold, let’s go in, or, hey, the rain is setting in, let’s go in a little early, or, hey, there’s a football game on TV, let’s go watch that.

“We get on the water and it’s all about 100 percent fishing, fishing, fishing. He gets excited. I think that’s a big advantage. That excitement turns into momentum, and that turns into confidence. That in turn equals extra bites, extra fish in the boat.”

When I relayed to Scott how excited Roland had sounded on the phone about his guide trips over the past week, he just smiled.

“His favorite thing is every day,” Scott said. “You talk to him on the phone and it’s like that every day.”

Friday will mark the first day that Roland Martin will see his son walk across the Bassmaster Classic stage. And he’s, of course, excited about it.

“I’m so happy for Scott,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing in fishing, and he’s carrying on the tradition.”