Remembering a True Fishing Legend

By Steve Graaf

On November 4th of 2021, the bass fishing world lost one of its greatest ambassadors in Aaron Martens. After a long 19-month battle with Glioblastoma, Aaron loaded his boat for the last time and headed into Heavenly waters. Aaron was a proud husband and father of two who cherished the time he shared with his family. The life of a professional bass fisherman is tough especially when it comes to missing a lot of quality time with family. But Aaron never took that time for granted. He loved them so much that he and his wife Lesley took their home and family on the road and lived the gypsy life of the Bass Pro Tour.

All anglers want to make an impact and leave a legacy. Aaron Martens did just that by sharing his knowledge of what we call finesse fishing. This style of fishing really did not exist when Aaron first arrived on the Bass Pro Tour. A former California resident, Aaron was an expert in how to fish light tackle. He brought with him the western style of finesse fishing that consists of light line, spinning reels, and small baits. He was well versed in techniques like the shakey head, drop shotting, Neko rigs, and small finesse jigs. Aaron thought outside the box and used his finesse techniques to take the tour by storm. He had immediate success and gained a reputation as a super tough competitor.

Just how good was he? Well, he was a three-time Angler of the Year, a four-time Bassmaster Classic runner-up (The Super Bowl of bass fishing), and had over $3.8 million in winnings with 11 pro tour victories, 82 Top 10’s, and 114 Top 20 finishes. To say he was one of the best to ever wet a hook, is an understatement. This guy was one of the Top 5 all-time anglers ever. He was an angler that others feared as they backed their boats in the water. His ability was truly God-given and Aaron acknowledged that. Some guys are born to be scientists, some to be doctors or lawyers but Aaron was born to be a professional bass angler. Aaron was also a fitness guru as he enjoyed running, mountain biking, hiking, and camping; a true outdoorsman.

But Aaron had a softer side, he really enjoyed sharing his knowledge and helping any and all anglers he came in contact with. He, unlike so many other anglers, was always willing to share his knowledge. Guess you could say he had an open-door policy and enjoyed teaching. I personally got to know Aaron through my radio show Hook’N Up & Track’N Down. He was a guest on the show several times and never turned me down to do an interview. He was a very personable guy who had a unique and quirky personality. But his IQ was off the chart and all you had to do was spend five minutes with him and you knew immediately, that this guy is highly intelligent.

One memorable encounter I had with Aaron was at the ICAST Show in Orlando. ICAST is the international fishing show that displays anything and everything associated with the bass fishing world. Each year the Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show would do a live show from ICAST and after arriving early one morning to set up for the radio broadcast, Aaron saw me and asked if he could sit in with me. Of course, I’m not turning down a chance to sit with Aaron Martens and talk bass fishing! But what was amazing about this interview as we kicked off the show, a crowd of 25 to 30 people began to gather in front of my broadcast. Aaron had their full attention as they hung and took notes on every word he said as we talked about finesse-style fishing. Aaron is the kind of interview that all you have to do is point him in the direction you want him to go, and he’ll take it from there. It’s an interview that will be filed away in my memory forever.

Again, on November 4th of 2021, we lost a true legend of the bass fishing world. Aaron is a person that will always be remembered for his intelligence and abilities to catch bass but more importantly, as a genuine and courteous person who cared more about others than he did for himself. Aaron, the bass fishing world loves and appreciates all you did and we will never forget you. We wish you a lot of Heavenly hook sets my friend. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Take the time to take care of your body by applying sunscreen and wearing the proper clothing. Remember, Melanoma does not discriminate.


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