Scott Martin dreams a lot — and lately, those dreams have all had a common theme.
Martin, who announced today he’s leaving the FLW Tour after 20 years to fish all eight Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens in 2020, dreams about qualifying for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
Like every angler, he dreams about winning the Classic and taking that iconic victory lap around a jam-packed arena.
But for Martin, whose father is B.A.S.S. legend and television superstar Roland Martin, the dream is about far more than a big trophy and a big paycheck.
It’s about unfinished family business.
“My dad had all of that success. He helped start B.A.S.S. He was with Ray Scott traveling around the country, and he has so many of the records over there,” Martin said. “But the one victory that eluded him was the Classic, and I know he feels a little incomplete because he missed that one.
“When I look at completing my career — what would satisfy me as a professional angler — I have a legacy to carry on for my dad and the Martin name. A huge part of that legacy is trying to win the Bassmaster Classic.”
His father’s amazing career
The desire to add some Classic hardware to the heaving family trophy case was what gave Martin the final push in his decision to move exclusively to B.A.S.S. But in truth, it’s a decision that’s been in the works since he was born.
A refresher course on just how dominant his father was with B.A.S.S. is an eye-opener — even for the most avid fishing fan.
Not only did Roland record 19 major tournament victories — the second most in B.A.S.S. history — but he also finished in second place another 19 times. In 306 events, he had 102 Top 10 finishes and placed in the money at 193 events.
The elder Martin won a B.A.S.S.-record nine Angler of the Year titles. He won the award three times in a row — twice.
But in 25 Classic appearances, Roland’s best finish was a second-place showing in the 1980 event on New York’s St. Lawrence River.
“I know that’s one thing that’s always bothered him,” Scott said. “Not in a horribly negative way. But he’s like me — he’s goal-driven. That was one of those goals that he never reached.”
Scott Martin’s B.A.S.S. roots
Scott Martin was born in 1975, the year Roland won his fourth AOY title. Legend has it, one of Roland’s first calls after Scott’s birth was to B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott — and it was from that phone call that the younger Martin got the very name he goes by today.
“My dad literally called Ray Scott from the payphone at the hospital to tell him he had a new baby boy,” Martin said. “He told him they hadn’t picked out a name yet and Ray said, ‘I’ll make you a deal’ — you know Ray, he’s always a deal maker. He said, ‘If you’ll name him after me, I’ll give him a lifetime membership to B.A.S.S.’
“My dad decided that sounded like a pretty good deal.”
Since neither of Martin’s parents was in love with the name “Ray,” they officially named him “Scott Roland Martin.”
Scott traveled the country with his father for many years, watching him walk across the B.A.S.S. stage and hoist trophies — all the while planning a career in pro fishing for himself. He began that career at the 1998 Bassmaster Eastern Invitational on Lake Okeechobee, finishing seventh.
An FLW force
The next year, the FLW Tour held an event on Okeechobee from Roland Martin’s Marina — the family’s world-famous fishing resort in Clewiston, Fla. Scott decided to fish as a co-angler and finished second. That encouraged him to fish the remainder of the FLW season on the co-angler side, and he eventually earned the division’s 1999 AOY distinction.
In 2000, he fished FLW as a boater — and he hit the ground running with a victory in the second event of the season on the Pascagoula River. It set the stage for two dominant decades that saw him claim eight victories — an FLW Tour record — along with 42 Top 10s and nearly $3 million in career earnings.
His crowning achievement came in 2011 when he won the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. But through all of his accomplishments, his family’s roots with B.A.S.S. were always in the back of his mind.
“I had great success with FLW and loved the people over there for sure,” Martin said. “But I always had great desire to fish with Bassmaster. It might have happened sooner, but the timing just wasn’t right.
“When I started with FLW, I was newly married and had a young son, and trying to do two tours at one time wasn’t healthy for our family. Plus, I had a bigger picture of wanting to get into TV somewhere down the road.”
Superstardom and unfinished business
Martin has made the latter part of his plan a reality, hosting The Scott Martin Challenge for 13 seasons. It currently airs on several networks, including the Discovery Channel, the Sportsman Channel, CBS Sports Network and World Fishing Network.
He also has one of the biggest social media followings of any angler in the business, with a combined reach of more than 1 million fans. That includes more than 473,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, 270,000 followers on Instagram, 213,000 on Facebook and more than 200,000 on Fishbrain.
He said he looks forward to taking all of those fans with him on the next leg of his pro-fishing journey as he tends to the unfinished business that lives so prominently in his dreams.
“I cherished my time fishing FLW all those years, but I’ve always had a burning desire to fish the Bassmaster tour — and not only to fish, but to win over there,” he said. “I want to win an Open event. I want to win an Elite Series event and to ultimately win the Bassmaster Classic.
“I’d like to raise that trophy while my dad is still alive to see it. That’s the goal that’s driving me now.”
For now, Martin is preparing for a new schedule that begins Jan. 15-17, 2020 at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in his home state of Florida. The schedule will also carry him to Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, New York and South Carolina.
To see the video of Martin’s official announcement on his YouTube channel, click here.