Well yep, this is a tough one. As you know, we lost Aaron. I know that but I still can't believe it. I'm going to do my imperfect best to give him a tribute today. I know it won't be enough and I know it won't be good enough. I know that's okay and not okay, and I appreciate your grace and time. If I could ask you to please keep praying for Lesley and their 2 kids – thanks much.
One more thing: After Aaron passed, I felt a real strong need to be out on the water. Like way more than usual. So that's what I did half of Friday and a few hours on Saturday. And I actually caught 'em. Is that "coincidence"? Nah. What does it mean? I don't know man but I thought about Aaron the whole time. It was great. Thank you Lord.
Today's Top 5
What peeps have been saying about Aaron.
Easily 2 books could be written about Aaron. The first one, really a multi-volume deal, would be about fishing. His fishing, his knowledge, his innovations. Gotta tell you as someone whose job is to extract fishing information from pros' brains, I never come close to getting it all, and in Aaron's case way less. He just knew so much.

The second book would be about him as a person, and that's the one I'm going to get into here, starting with some of the stuff posted about him last week – and literally typing this I can't believe it and am getting some tears man:

> He was an amazing angler who did things his own way and was always incredibly detail-oriented. It was fascinating to talk fishing with him because of his unique thought process and extreme intuition. He was the greatest instinctual angler of my era...aka "The Natural." [Bear in mind that's coming from KVD!]

> As I got to know Aaron more through his 22 years on tour, I saw just how special he was as a person. He was always positive, smiling, bubbly, and willing to offer help to anyone. He loved his family and always talked about them. He made me a better person and I know a lot of others who would say the same. Everyone loved him. Every time we talked we'd never finish without telling each other "love you."

> One thing that stood out during his fight with cancer, giving me great comfort, was his unwavering faith. He knew God had a plan and he never questioned that, he just kept fighting. Always positive. Heaven received a special gift and an amazing person with my friend Aaron.

> The first time I met Aaron I was competing against him in a tournament in TX. I rounded a corner and noticed a boat sitting under a bridge. I didn't think anything about it until I looked up again several minutes later and the boat is still sitting in the same spot. I realized who it was and of course I was star-struck.

> I watched him drop his bait to the bottom 13 consecutive times – each time he brought the bait up he pulled a marker out of his pocket and made fine adjustments...the boat still has not moved. On the 14th drop he caught a fish and immediately put the marker away and began trolling around, minding his own business.

> At that moment, I realized how great of an angler he was. The attention to detail was second to none. Aaron and I shared that creek for the next 3 days. He helped me catch fish, cheered me on when I caught one and offered to share his lunch with me. And it was at that moment, I realized how great of a PERSON he was.

> For sure one of the very best people God ever made. I remember the first time I saw Aaron at an FLW Series event and being in awe of him. My first time meeting him was my rookie year on the Elites and his openness and kindness was obvious. He was the same person all the time everywhere. Loved God, life and all those in it.

> The world lost an awesome human today. Aaron was one of those guys that could make friends with anyone. I'll never forget we were at Grand Lake my first year on the Elites and just made my first cut. He walked past me and said, "Dude great job today, I'm happy for you!" For a star-struck rookie like myself at the time it meant the world.

> Doesn't even seem real. One of the nicest fishermen and people I have ever met. I wish I would've gotten to be around him even more. I'd say maybe the best angler to ever pick up a fishing rod.

> Hard to make sense of what happened when he was taken from us. Hard to know why. Even when I asked him how he was and we talked when he was really struggling he would tell me how good God was.

> I hate that you're not here with us anymore. I can't imagine what your family is going through. I love you man and respect you and what you stand for so much and I'm glad one day I'll get the opportunity to see you again.

> You're right bro. God is good. And sometimes we hurt and sometimes we don't know why but God is good. Love you man. See you again some day!

Highly recommend you check Bass Talk Live's tribute to Aaron. Great and way too much to excerpt here. You'll hear a lot of the same stuff as those guys said, which means Aaron impacted everyone in the same positive, amazing ways.
How Aaron lived and fished.
LOTS of people have Aaron stories and I bet all of them involve him helping, smiling, loving and catching. Not just fishing – CATCHING. Here's some stuff on that stuff:

1. How do so many people have Aaron stories?

That's what I was thinking going through all the posts – how the heck did Aaron, sometimes in the middle of a tournament, have the time to just chat with people (sometimes on the water!), people he might not even know, and help them out. This is a guy who has a busy professional life, a wife and 2 kids – I know what that's like and I bet you do too. Yet he did it – he spent that time with people. How? My answer right now is this:


I 100% believe that's the main reason we're here – to be in relationship with other people. And Aaron lived that. He was never "too busy" for it. He was never too busy to give of himself, whether that was time, food, knowledge, fishing gear, money, you name it.

I think he was just present and focused, things that helped him be a genius fisherman but more importantly made him an incredible person. (For me anyhow, it can be hard to be present and focused.)

Aaron was a Jesus believer, a saved man, and to me he 100% lived what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:

> 13-14: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

> 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That's 100% Aaron! So I guess I could say it this way: His greatest skills and talents were in fishing, but fishing was just where God put him to glorify Him with those talents and to show people those fruits of the Spirit. How amazing is that man.

2. He didn't think like we do.

I think don barone said it best, in a way I've never seen it said before:

> ...I knew that when I asked him a question I wouldn't get back an answer, I would instead get back an explanation. An explanation that started with my question and circled back with the answer that explained it all from beginning to middle to end.

> Aaron Martens taught me something with every answer he gave to every question I ever asked. His answer was nothing short of a symphony of understanding and teaching.

Yes a SYMPHONY! That's about as accurate a description of something just about impossible to describe as I've ever heard. My 2c is this: When Aaron talked – about fishing – everything he said was important. It connected in his head but it might not have connected at the time in the listener's head, so in my case it was worth writing/typing it all down. And I still missed stuff because I couldn't keep up with him.

I don't know if Aaron ever truly had any preconceived stuff that got in the way of him catching fish. I could say he probably did, but I just think he loved figuring 'em out, one fish at a time, and wouldn't let anything get in the way of that. Did he get stumped sometimes? Sure. But not often and that would just give him more insights, like a super-computer version of what we all do.
It wasn't just the fish either. What I mean is, a fish was tied to all kinds of factors in his mind. Not just the weather but everything, including what he saw around him or thought about at night or whatever. Truly amazing, man. Check what Tim Horton said:

> He had a sense of wonder that was like a kid. At all times. Everything was just positive and upbeat to him. The glass was always half full.

Yes! A kid-like sense of wonder, which reminds me of this – Matthew 18:2-4:

> At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Once again: That's Aaron, and that "wonder" made him an amazing, optimistic, relentless fisherman. Check this from Megabass' Yuskei Murayama – Aaron was a long-time Megabass pro til switching:

> One of my favorite memories of Aaron is from Lake Mead, where we met up to review prototypes and pre-fish for the US Open. Midway through the first day Aaron broke out flippers and snorkels. "Ready?" he asked. We spent hours every day free-diving different waypoints, diving til the pressure made you feel smaller than you were and the world as expansive as it could be.

> We called smallmouth by knocking rocks together, caught crayfish and watched how different their colors looked underwater, following the way they'd scoot to safety. After a few days Aaron started hand-tying jigs for the world we uncovered and proceeded to dial in the most insanely minute pattern.

> With Aaron, the world always felt bigger because he cared to see and understand the most minute within it. I'd like to think it's yet another reason his heart grew to be as big as it was.

How amazing and beautiful is that! When's the last time you snorkeled to dial in a bite??
Couple personal stories.
Few that came to mind that I can share right now:

1. Loudmouth Bass

When Zona and I were on the "Loudmouth Bass" TV show we had pro fishermen come on as guests. If you never saw the show, it was pretty much a comedy deal so we would have a goofy time. When Aaron came on, he had just finished 2nd in some event – and had finished 2nd a few times, kinda a streak he had going that included Classics (four 2nds for him there). He hadn't gotten to his run of wins yet, but they were coming.

Anyhow, I wore a shirt with a #2 on the back and just messin' around told him it was for him. He smiled and sorta laughed, but I saw a little pain there. Not bad pain – I just saw just how competitive he was. You might think "Duh!" and you'd be right, but for me it just showed that even with that relentless joy and optimism, he wasn't cool at all with not winning when he could. And be believed he could and should. And he did!

2. When I came back

Back in the mid-2000s I sold BassFan.com and everything that went with it, and took a hiatus from the bassin' world. I was so burnt on the whole deal I didn't even fish for bass for a while – for real! And professionally I had a non-compete so I couldn't do anything in bassin' even if I wanted to.

A couple years later, with the recession still going on, I went to the first Classic I could go to again and guess who welcomed me first – smiled at me, "bro"d me, hugged me, all that. Yep, Aaron. Even though bassin' was "my world," that love from Aaron – which is what it was – gave me a huge confidence boost/confirmation I needed.

Here's the crazy thing: When I walked up he was facing AWAY from me. How the heck did he know I was there? Did he just feel me coming or something? Amazing.

3. Dropshotting?

Everyone thinks Aaron was the dropshot king. And he was. BUT one time he told me after he won a tournament shallow (maybe the Havasu bird pattern deal?) this direct quote: "I don't even like dropshotting." He was dead serious.

He said that because I was busting his stones about fishing shallow and not dropshotting. I was like, "Really?" He said, "Yeah!"

What that meant to me is this: Dropshotting was something he could do – and figure out to the Nth degree – to catch fish. That's it. He knew it would get him bites and fish in the boat, and that's why he used it. Not because he loved it – or I guess even liked it!

Would you sit in your boat for multiple 12-hour days to dial in the ultra-fine deets of a bite or rig you didn't like to fish?? Not me, but I sure as heck am no pro and those guys are wired differently – but you get what I'm saying.
All I can say is this:

- We lost one of the best fishermen God ever created to be a fisherman. Aaron was a fishing genius, no doubt. He would have been one of the best competitive fishermen of any species he chose. I'm so glad he chose bass – or God chose it for him.

- We lost one of the greatest men ever to walk the Earth in my 2c. Read the Galatians stuff again – it's not near as easy as it sounds, yet he was all of that.

- Did he leave to soon? For us yes, no doubt for his family. But if I'm gonna go just by the impact he had as a person first and a fisherman second, was it too soon? I have no way of knowing of course, but what I mean is: How many of us will equal those impacts in the next 30 years or whatever? Speaking for myself, I won't. He was a bright shining light. Thank you for him Lord.

- I'm incredibly sad but also glad to know I will see him again, and also very grateful to have known him – as a person first, and fisherman second.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a better sense of Aaron now. I've got a couple funny stories I'll share further down the road...because Aaron was funny too!
"...if you ask me what I've been doing to prepare for the year's first tournament, the answer is that I've been talking to the fans, and reaching out to the roots of pro bass fishing to remind myself how great it is to be fishing in this world for another year."
- Aaron. Beautiful. Reminding myself of that blessing, maybe you too....
Randy Howell is giving away another dang boat!
Randy does it every year to help a charity called King's Home, a ministry that operates 21 group homes on 6 campuses in AL, serving kids, teens and women with children who have suffered severe abuse, abandonment and neglect. The boat giveaway is on Nov 13 – his rig retails for over $80K!! 🀯 Gitcha $100 tix here.

1. Why are you always giving away your own boat – wouldn't you rather give someone else's boat away instead? 😁

> "Yes for sure I'd love to be able to do that, but my boat is in such immaculate condition at the end of the season and I take such good care of it on purpose because I know we're going to use it to make a difference, to raise a lot of money.

> "Another person's...might not be as perfect as I keep mine. But is hard to give it away. You finally get everything on it worked out, all the bugs and everything...then it's time to give it away."

2. With all the electronics and whatnot now, are you giving away a more expensive boat every year?

> "Yes exactly – every year it's a little bit better.... This one has 3 big Lowrances on it instead of 2 like I've had in the past, plus the Active Target – two 12s and a 16 and Active Target. And Impulse Lithium batteries...so it's definitely worth $7,000-8,000 more than last year's boat."

3. Will there ever be a time when you give away a boat that isn't blue?

> "That's the big question – probably not because...we worked hard to build that [color and branding] recognition.... The last 5-6 years we've had the Prym1 Shoreline Camo print – I think it's the best-looking wrap every year. And this year we have the Mercury engine panels blue too. I think it's the most beautiful head to toe rig I ever had.

> "A lot of the [winners] have kept the wrap on it. The guy who won the 2019 boat...fishing here in front of the house at a tournament [recently]...."

4. What happened this season and how are you gonna turn that sucka around? [He finished low in the BPT points.]

> "This season had a lot to do with some distractions and some sickness, but really it was more mental than anything else. Everybody knows that at this level it's a very intense mental game, especially in the MLF format because it requires so much more intensity – you're trying to catch fish constantly and never slowing down.

> "Your weaknesses are quickly pointed out if you're not really on fish. I let too many things get in the way of me putting 100% into the tournaments...no excuse for it.

> "I need to get back straight, and by my way of thinking I'm going to do that by fishing more. Most of the [BPT] guys whipping up on us...300-400 hours on their engines and I have less than 100 so I'm not fishing enough. I'm trying to get myself turned around and get my head back in the game like I should."

[Next year he's fishing the Bass Pro Tour and the MLF Pro Circuit.]

> "There's such a fine line of doing good and doing bad – just 1 decision every day...takes being quick to make changes and have confidence in everything you do."

5. Do you get more fishing advice from Robin or Laker? πŸ˜†

> "Wow I tell you what it used to be more from Robin but it's gotten to where here lately, now that Laker is a licensed captain on Guntersville and fishing a lot more than me, now I'm starting to take more advice from him. But Robin will always be the Senko queen. When they're biting a Senko, I listen to her."

Lol! Here again is where you can get a ticket to maybe win that drool-worthy rig – good luck peeps!

My 2c was: He fishes a ton of tournaments anyhow, travels a lot, so why wouldn't he go back? I mean, it's not like Mike wants to do LESS – obviously! I mean, what a waste of $$$ all those clones would be! πŸ€”

Not just MaxScent Chunks but any. Noticed that one of Hank's Classic trophies is now a hat stand:
Or maybe it's a disguise...πŸ˜†

Gonna be driving a futuristical hybrid pickup – here's the prototype:
HAHAHA just messin', congrats John!

...with his boat. So he flew down to LA to fish the deal on the Ouachita River, and LA bass-head and Classic qualifier Blake Sylvester lent him a boat. Didn't even know the dude, just good people. Love it. πŸ‘Š

Bet the border dude felt real important...😠

Shoot it's not even on in NJ yet!

Only in the Savannah River Shoals and "one other waterway in Georgia." Looks like a spotted bass to me?

> Interstate 40 is the northern boundary for FL bass viability. In AR, Lake Conway is about the northern limit.

What about power plant lakes??

> ...pre-owned boat sales exceeded 1 mil units in 2020 for the first time since 2006 to reach 1.05 mil boats, an 8.6% increase compared to 2019.

11. Lot of fishing/boating grants for Hispanic peeps available.

Check with your state's website – they all recently got eligible $$.

Jarrett Knize was fishing a 13 Fishing Magic Man lipless crank on 25-lb Seaguar AbrazX fluoro so guess he was expectin' a big'n!

In Otter Tail County.

American Sportfishing Assn = fishing industry lobbying group:

> ...the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $550 bil in infrastructure funding that supports some of ASA's top legislative priorities that address conservation and sportfishing. These investments will create jobs, conserve the aquatic environment and preserve one of our nation's most cherished pastimes.

Always gotta ask – who's paying for it and how?

Headline of the Day

Gonna say yes. They're jumpin' fools, pretty speedy....

Line of the Day

Not real sure what that means but I think they caught a perch and some bugs, and hit a bluegill over the head with a 6-lb hammer??
On BassBlaster.rocks right now... 

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Tip of the Day
What "not fun" stuff would/should you do to catch more?

Check some other "not fun" stuff Aaron did besides dropshotting. These have gotta be even less fun because no chance of ketchin' 'em while not havin' fun:

> I'm pretty good with a jig vise, but I spend literally days at a time hunched over that thing.

> People may have seen videos over the years of the process I go through in putting keepers/bait-holders on my hooks. I cut the keeper off every one of my worm hooks and tie on my own keepers because they hold the head of the worm up the hook better. I used to use the individual wire shafts of brush guards as my keepers, but in the past few years I've switched to heavy (45- to 60-lb) fluorocarbon line that I cut into tiny little pieces, pinch over and then tie onto the shank of each hook with a spindle and bobbin loaded with braid.

> I'm not going to lie – it's a total pain, and I go through this process literally hundreds of times.

> I do surgery on all of my shakey heads too. I'll put a shakey head in the vise and cut the stock hook off so there's still about 1/3 of an inch of the shank left. Next I replace that hook with a Gamakatsu heavy-cover finesse hook.... I basically attach that hook to the 1/3-inch shank of my original shakey head and come out with the best shakey head you can imagine.

> I swear I have 50 lbs of silicone and live-rubber skirt materials in 25 different colors, and some years I go through what seems like 1,000 skirts. Sometimes you can lose 30 of them a day jigging riprap.

> In the past, I've tied my jig skirts during the season, but I spent several days this winter with my head buried in skirt material, cutting and figuring out precise thicknesses and colors, and then banding all of my skirts.

> Making jig skirts is the definition of "not fun"...I want to sleep and run more during a tournament week. Last year, I spent way too much time tying skirts during tournaments, and that was part of the reason I'd stay up until 2 am every night working on my tackle.

What do you need to do that's "not fun" to be a better and more efficient fisherman? I'll go first: Spend time really understanding my electronics, and not carrying so many baits I don't use.
Quote of the Day
"Out there in the wild parts of CA, my mom and dad were the ones who taught me to have confidence: confidence in myself and confidence in God's protection."

> "Confidence looks a little different in an Elite Series tournament. It doesn't look like footsteps or elevation changes. It looks like trusting your gut on what lure to throw. It looks like pushing up for a spot in a crowded line of boats working a specific shoreline. It looks like knowing a season can turn on any given weekend. Above all that, it looks like trusting Him with my story."

Ah dang it, cried again. Love you bro.
Shot of the Day
AA-Ron and his original tourney partner, his mom Carol – she wrote this great post about what Aaron was going through. Carol is a good people too and even as a woman of faith I'm sure she's hurting big-time. Please pray for her too:
Ya got me!
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