Let me guess, someone in your family loves fishing like you do, right? Perhaps one or more of you would love to be a professional angler someday? Is it in your DNA? I believe career choices begin to form in early childhood based on support and encouragement. When people have skills and a passion for doing things they enjoy, especially children, they may also be naturally gifted. Take note in this article of what contributed to making our son Aaron the successful angler he is today. There are many.
In 1974 when Aaron was two years old, we made a short move to our home in West Hills, Calif. Our backyard is the Chatsworth Reservoir. Aaron was never your average neighborhood kid. He had curly blond hair and loved going shirtless and barefoot. He was tan year around just like his dad and reminded me of the Jungle Boy character from the movie of the same name. Most of his playtime at home included hunting lizards, bugs, and other critters he and his brothers could stir up. He loved ant farms, bug and butterfly catchers, and jars with holes in the lids for toys. Eventually, the boys convinced us to build a chicken coop and buy some Rhode Island Reds and ducks. We enjoyed fresh eggs for years! We acquired several pigeons for our cell when the chickens and ducks were eventually gone (we also had raccoons and coyotes). Sadly, they were homing pigeons and always came back when we let them loose. We were the only ones in our neighborhood with an animal menagerie!
We always had lots of dogs, cats, snakes, rats, a tortoise, and bunnies. The wildlife kept coming as if we were Noah’s Ark! Eventually, Aaron got the fish aquarium he had always wanted and took good care of it even though I said he wouldn’t. By now, you have a pretty good picture of our family. It also explains why people thought twice before coming over! Friends still share stories of the snakes that got loose in the house and the pigeon that landed on their heads as they walked up to the front door.
As a side note, Aaron would often fill his mouth with various live bugs and greet people with a big “Hello,” and the bugs would fly out. No one else ever tried that. Now you have a perfect picture of the crazy Martens family. Even if it were gross, we would do anything for a laugh and still do. During this time, Aaron became known as Nature Boy. It stuck, and according to some, he still performs shock and awe for his friends.
Our family took trips to places like the Sierras, Sequoias, and Arizona every year. Backpacking and camping were always part of our vacations. Aaron, his dad, and brothers, Brian and Chris, would sometimes take longer trips to lonely places in Mexico and the Grand Canyon. Looking back, our adventures always included danger, risk, lack of food and water, and a life and death experience. Traveling with my husband Jerry was referred to by many as a death march, and they were never comfortable and always got lost. This might explain why he traveled alone to Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Peru! Hiking and adventure were definitely in my husband’s DNA. I always took the boys fishing. When the two older ones ventured out on their own, Aaron and I fished as a team in multiple circuits for about seven years and maybe as much as 200 days a year.
Aaron was innovative as a child, and I remember him asking me to help him find used lines and hooks on the shoreline because we didn’t have any fishing equipment. All three boys were experts at finding live bugs by looking around the brush and under rocks and logs to see what the fish might be eating and then caching them for bait. Aaron also enjoyed tinkering with baits and rarely used them in their original state. He would sit in the family room for hours clipping, painting, inventing his lures, and testing them in the pool or on his next fishing trip.
He was also curious and did things like taking apart a Casio watch and putting it back together again to see how it worked. He would also draw a maze and challenge us to find the way out. He loved volcanoes, dinosaurs, and playing sports like soccer and baseball. We watched fishing shows from anglers like Hank Parker, Jerry McGinnis, Orlando Wilson, Roland Martin, and Bill Dance. They all impacted us, and over the years, we got to know each of them personally.
While watching those TV shows, I would also love to have a dollar for every time Aaron said he wanted to fish Bassmasters and be the youngest to win the Classic. We assumed he was dreaming. At this point, he won’t be the youngest to win the Classic, but I’m pretty sure he won’t be the oldest! By any chance, is this reminding you of anyone you know yet?
As his interest grew, Aaron and his brothers liked to fish on the pier at the beach while I sunbathed. One late afternoon on Malibu Pier, I told the boys it was time to go home. They said we couldn’t go because the fish were biting, and it was then Aaron convinced me to reel in a mackerel that he had hooked. With some resistance, I did so and exclaimed that this was fun! I became instantly hooked. Aaron and a mackerel did what no trout had been able to do; he displayed a persuasive, inspiring, and motivating ability.
There was a defining moment early one morning as we headed out in our rental boat at Lake Casitas. In a bass tournament, we were rocked by dozens of bass boats leaving the marina. Aaron looked at me and said, “That’s what I want to do!” Just like my first mackerel, the heavens opened, the sun shined down, and those words were written in stone. It’s aha moments like this that serve as markers in our lives. Markers help define our passion, purpose, and mission in life. Can you pinpoint your markers?
Now is a good time to mention that our son Chris has fishing in his DNA. Even though he was on his high school varsity volleyball team, won the All-City Championship, and excelled in basketball and soccer, he became an auto mechanic and owns his own business today. However, Chris loves fishing, especially for stripers on our local lakes, as one of his favorite pass times. Our oldest son Brian likes to tag along with Chris, mainly for the fellowship. So it’s safe to say that fishing is in our family DNA, but only Aaron has made a career of it so far.
Our three oldest grandsons, Bradley, Justin, and Devin, are accomplished anglers, and young Jordan has caught more big fish than all of us! Everyone in the Martens family has fun fishing, including daughter-in-laws Patricia and Lesley. Through the years, most of our family and fishing friends chose other careers like nursing, banking, financial planning, truck driver, auto repairs, but they all still like to fish! Jesus liked to fish, and look what he accomplished! Aaron did consider golf and volleyball and told me recently he thinks he would have been a good race car driver like my second cousins Kyle and Kurt Busch. We know race car driving was in their DNA and thankfully not in Aaron’s. He didn’t even care about driving a car until his late teens. My dad owned a used car lot and taught me how to drive when I was 10. I always loved driving a car, and it was certainly in my DNA, but I didn’t want to drive a cab for the rest of my life. But I digress. Do most sports require good eye and hand coordination which might explain why many people start in sports but choose a career in a different field? These people would more than likely have combinations of other gifts and skills. What’s unique about fishing is that you can be successful in almost any other field and still enjoy fishing, but not the other way around! Think about that.
In closing, let’s review what led Aaron the Nature Boy to become Aaron, the Natural? He lived in an environment and took trips to explore nature. He learned survival and how to deal with hardship. He had opportunities to go fishing a lot and still play other sports. He satisfied his curiosities and was given the tools and encouragement to be innovative and explore. He had the support and encouragement from his family and now from his wife and children for the past 19 years. It’s been fun watching Aaron and Lesley encourage their children to experience lots of different avenues to help them determine their careers. I must admit I’m encouraging my granddaughter Jordan to be a famous woman angler as a legacy thing because it’s in her DNA! I do not doubt that.