ZAPATA, Texas – -- Despite catching 42 pounds on the first day of competition and leading the Bassmaster Elite Series’ Lone Star Shootouton a productive Falcon Lake, Aaron Martens of Leeds, Alabama, lamented Thursday what could have been.
Leading his nearest competitor, Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., by more than 6 pounds, Martens stopped fishing at noon because his trolling motor and livewell batteries were drained by a strong, gusting wind. With a full day of fishing, the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year felt he could have broken the BASS one-day heaviest catch record of 45 pounds, 2 ounces, set by Dean Rojas in 2001 on Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga.
Fishing fans can catch all of the big-fish action on The Bassmasters on Saturday, April 12 at 9 a.m. ET. While Martens missed out on the one-day record, the four-day tournament record for heaviest weight of 122 pounds, 14 ounces, established by Steve Kennedy on California’s Clear Lake in 2007, is well within his grasp.
"“I would have smashed the one-day record if not for the wind,”" said Martens, the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. " “This lake surpasses every other bass-fishing lake in the country. It’'s just incredible."”
Martens played it close to the vest regarding his pattern but did say he was focusing on deep water. He was confident he could catch more than 30 pounds through each of the next three days. To remedy his Thursday problem, he planned on using an anchor or bringing extra battery power Friday.
Although Martens resides in Alabama, he cut his teeth on productive California powerhouse fisheries and said that experience helped him on Falcon.
“This place reminds me of Castaic Lake (in California),” said Martens, who scored a 2007 Elite victory on the California Delta. “But I’m not sure that Castaic, even in its heyday, was better than this.”
Martens has four BASS wins and has earned more than $1 million in career earnings. With a win at Falcon, he would earn $100,000 and also improve considerably on his 37th-place standing in the season-long Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
Despite trailing by a sizable margin, Rook can wipe out the deficit with one Falcon behemouth. With a victory, Rook would push his career BASS earnings to more than $1 million.
The one-time BASS winner caught all of his weight, 35 pounds, 12 ounces, in the first 40 minutes of his fishing day. He caught consecutive fish on his first six casts and spent the majority of his day guarding his productive area from other competitors.
Like Martens, Rook was optimistic he could catch more than 30 pounds a day throughout the tournament. He had located six spots in practice and only visited two.
“"Tomorrow will be a good gauge to see how heavy the weights will go,”" Rook said. "“We should get a little wind again and we will see how some of these spots replenish."”
Another West Coast product, Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., is with 35-6. Mark Davis, a three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, is fourth with 35-4.
Byron Velvick of Del Rio, Texas, who is sharing water with leader Martens, is fifth with 34-14.
Scott Campbell of Springfield, Mo., took Purolator Big Bass honors with a 13-pound, 2-ounce lunker. The BASS record for largest bass caught in competition, a 14-pound, 9-ounce largemouth, was set in 1999 by Elite Series angler Mark Tyler at the California Delta.
In the co-angler division, Randall Jackson of Broken Arrow, Okla., leads the three-day competition with 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Jackson, who was paired with Martens, leads Kansan Ron Chapman, father of Elite Series angler Brent Chapman, (30-1) and Texan Rick Romane (27-0). Co-anglers are vying for a top prize of $25,000.
The Lone Star Shootout presented by Longhorn marks the first time BASS has visited Falcon Lake in Zapata, Texas. The mainstream reservoir on the Rio Grande River has a surface area of 83,654 acres.
Daily launches Thursday through Sunday will be at 8 a.m. CT at the Zapata County public boat ramp at Lake Falcon Park, half a mile south of Veleno Bridge/U.S. Hwy 83 on County Road. Daily weigh-ins at the park begin at 5 p.m CT. Both are free and open to the public.
Activities at the Lonestar Shootout begin at 1 p.m. CT Saturday and Sunday. The Zapata County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the “Taste of South Texas Cook-Off,” set to begin Saturday, April 5, at 1 p.m. Sunday’s activities include dueling mariachi bands at 3 p.m., as well as the live taping of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona. The show, which airs on Bassmaster.com on Sunday, April 6, at 4:30 p.m. CT, will preview Sunday’s final weigh-in. Live, streaming video of the Lonestar Shootout’s daily weigh-ins are also available atBassmaster.com.