New Elite: Scott Martin

Before Floridian Scott Martin began fishing tournaments, he was well aware that there would be naysayers ready to dump on him should he fail. Some would claim that any success he achieved was due to his father, the legendary Roland Martin, bass fishing’s first superstar.

No angler has dominated B.A.S.S. events as thoroughly as Roland Martin did during his first 11 or so years on the tournament trail. His record includes 25 Classic appearances and nine Angler of the Year trophies. The one title that eluded him was Bassmaster Classic champion.

Although Martin grew up on Lake Okeechobee at Roland Martin’s Marina and Resort, he rarely got to fish the storied bass fishery with his father.

“My dad was always on the road fishing a tournament, filming a TV show or doing some type of promotion,” Martin said. “I fished Okeechobee a lot growing up, and I fine-tuned my abilities there. But I mainly learned things on my own.”

After college he focused on the business side of running the marina. Martin didn’t fish a major tournament until age 23 when he finished seventh at the 1998 Bassmaster Invitational on Lake Okeechobee.

The following year he competed as a co-angler on the FLW Tour and won the Angler of the Year award. This accomplishment earned him a fully rigged Ranger bass boat and an invitation to compete as a pro on the 2000 FLW Tour.

The second FLW Tour event of 2000 was at Mississippi’s Pascagoula River. Martin won the tournament and never looked back. Since then he has won seven more FLW Tour events, plus the 2011 Forest Wood Cup Championship. He qualified for 19 Cup championships and pocketed nearly $3 million in winnings.

He chose to compete in FLW tournaments because his father had made his career fishing with B.A.S.S. Martin wanted to do it “my way.”

“I didn’t want people to ever say I won a tournament because of my dad,” Martin said. “I got my own sponsors that were different from my dad’s and went my own way. He let me formulate my own game plans and never interjected. ”

Given his success with FLW, Martin is no longer under his father’s shadow. This sparked a burning desire to return full circle to B.A.S.S. where the sport began. It would have been easy for him to play it safe and continue with the FLW Tour, or to accept the invitation he received to become a Major League Fishing pro.

He made a bold decision to forgo these options and compete in the 2020 Eastern and Central Bassmaster Opens with the goal of qualifying for the Elite Series. He put his career on the line.

After a long, hard battle, he finished high enough in the Eastern Opens point standings to become one of the Elites.

“It was the hardest thing ever,” Martin said of fishing the Opens. “Because of the pandemic it became a 12-month season. There was never a down time.”

He also pointed out that every Open drew large fields that included many of the country’s top professional anglers, scores of anglers who were in do-or-die mode to qualify for the Elites and a host of locals who wanted bragging rights.

Martin’s father is now 80 years old. He still enjoys fishing and is “super supportive and excited” about his son’s success.

A major reason Martin returned to B.A.S.S. is to claim the trophy that slipped through his father’s net, the Bassmaster Classic.

“I fully respect how hard that’s going to be,” Martin said. “It may never happen. But to win the Classic while my dad’s still here and pass that trophy off to him … it’s almost too emotional to even think about it.”