There's no question that Aaron Martens is a fishing savant, and he's been accused of being a guy who's thought process is utterly dominated by bass and the ways in which they can be caught. That may have been partially true in the past and might be again at some point in the future, but he says it's not the case right now.
He has two school-age children who demand a great deal of his attention these days, and he gladly gives it to them. He said his reduced focus on the finned creatures is likely the primary reason he had such an unbalanced year in 2011.
"I don't know how to word it, but it was pretty uneven except for a few good tournaments," said the former B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year. "It was just kind of blah. I'd find them and then something would happen, or I'd just pick the wrong thing. It was like I was just missing by a little bit or I was a day behind.
"That's just the way it goes some years, but I also know that my kids are getting older and we're spending more time doing family things, and I wouldn't want that to be any other way. Sometimes I wish I could just take 10 years off from fishing and spend every minute with them, then I could come back out and be totally focused again."
High Points weren't Lacking
Martens' 2011 campaign certainly wasn't a poor year by anyone's standards. He turned in a pair of 2nd-place finishes (the fourth runner-up showing of his career at the Bassmaster Classic, plus one on the Elite Series) and won the mid-summer WON Bass U.S. Open at Nevada's Lake Mead for the third time. He cashed checks in seven of the eight Elite events and landed at No. 16 on the points list.
Fortunately for him, several of his mediocre outings still resulted in trips to the bank, as he narrowly slipped inside the 50th-place money cut three times at Elite stops (he had a 45th, a 46th and a 49th).
"A couple times I got them pretty good, but it didn't happen that often," he said. "Most of the time I wasn't on them like I wanted to be. It definitely wasn't one of my better years."
If he has to have more "so-so" years in order to keep up with the demands of daughter Jordan (age 8) and son Spenser (4), then so be it.
"It's definitely not like it was 5 years ago, when Jordan was the only one we had and she was still real young. Back then I had a lot more time to spend on tackle and to think about fishing.
"Now the kids are wanting to do something all the time, and I want to do what they want to do."
The Marathon Man
If nothing else, Martens will be in superb physical condition when the 2012 season opens with the Classic at Louisiana's Red River. The former mountain-biking enthusiast has been on a hard-core running program for the past 5 months and said he's averaging about 40 miles per week.
"I started out running 3 miles, but now I could do 14 or 15 at least," he said. "My wife (Lesley) was a runner in high school and she's been back into it for about 2 years. It gives you a full-body workout, it's not just your legs – and I think it's the best overall workout you can get when you're on the road."
He plans to maintain a schedule of running at least four times a week throughout the season, even during tournaments.
"I've been pretty good about it since July. After the weigh-in I get back to wherever I'm staying and make sure I do it.
"I was worried about getting skinny – I was 205 pounds when I started, and now I'm a real lean 200. None of my clothes fit me the same."
> Martens finished 9th in the 2009 Classic at the Red, when the bite was hindered by a cold front that arrived during the event. He's hoping for warm, stable conditions this time. "I want it to be as good as it can get," he said. "If it's cold, then (the tournament will be) more spot oriented. If it's warm, that'll spread the fish out to more areas and nobody will be able to sit on one spot and win."