Roland Martin’s name has been synonymous for 35 years with BASS tournaments and tournament records. But that link has come to an end with the retirement of the 65-year-old Florida pro.
“It’s time,” Martin said from his Naples home. “I’m 65 and my fishing has gone to pot. I haven’t done very well.
“I’m a really proud person, but I came to the conclusion that I can no longer compete with guys like (Michael) Iaconelli because they’re just fishing better than I am. It’s just the consistently crummy fishing I’ve had lately.
“Plus, I had a glorious fall season without worrying about tournaments. I killed a couple of moose in Alaska and a big elk in Utah. And I did all kinds of neat fishing. I went tuna fishing in Mexico. And I’m really enjoying myself. So I felt like it was time.”
Martin’s retirement harkens the end of an era.
It is fair to say Martin had as much to do with the growth of tournament bass fishing as any person. He was one of the pioneering anglers who toured the country with BASS founder Ray Scott, conducting fishing seminars and singing the praises of the fledgling organization.
His fishing exploits are unrivaled. A young Martin jumped on Scott’s fledgling circuit in 1970 by finishing second at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Many, La., and his career took off — finishing first or second in 14 of his first 23 tournaments. Today, his resume includes BASS records for victories (19), runner-up finishes (19) and CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles (nine). A member of the BASS millionaires club, Martin finished second to Rick Clunn in last summer’s ESPN Greatest Angler Debate presented by John Deere.
In 2005, Martin’s best finish was 16th place. “It’s time — in fact, it’s probably way past time,” the 25-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier said. “But I enjoyed it up to the end. I still enjoy the fishing.”
Martin will continue to film his long-running Fishing With Roland Martin television show and plans to compete in the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup, which airs on ESPN.