Is Fishing In Your DNA?

Is Fishing In Your DNA? Perhaps you would love to be a professional angler someday? Is it in your DNA? A pro angler's mother reveals the signs.


Aaron and I with a double hook up at Conroe Lake in Nov.

Aaron and I with a double hook up at Conroe Lake in Nov.

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 the support and encouragement one receives. When people have skills and a passion for the things they enjoy doing, especially children, they may also be naturally gifted in that area. Take note in this article the things that 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. For toys, he loved ant farms, bug and butterfly catchers and jars with holes in the lids.  Eventually the boys convinced us to build a chicken coop and buy some Rhode Island Reds and ducks. We enjoyed fresh eggs for years! When the chickens and ducks were eventually gone (we also had raccoons and coyotes), we acquired a number of pidgeons for our coop. Sadly, they were homing pidgeons and always came back when we let them loose. We were the only ones in our neighborhood with an animal menagerie! 

Shirtless Narture Boy in Sierras

Shirtless Narture Boy in Sierras

   We always had lots of dogs, a cat, 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 head as they walked up to the front door.

   As a side note, Aaron would often fill his mouth with a variety of 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 really good picture of the crazy Martens family. Even if it was 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 every year to places like the Sierras, Sequoias and Arizona. Backpacking and camping were always part of our vacations.  Aaron, his dad and brothers, Brian and Chris, would sometimes take longer trips to desolate 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 a death march and they were never comfortable and always got lost. This might explain why he traveled alone to places like Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Peru! Hiking and adventure was 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.

   As a child, Aaron was innovative and I remember him asking me to help him find used line and hooks on the shoreline because we didn’t have any fishing equipment with us. 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 and inventing his own lures and tested them in the pool or on his next fishing trip.

   He was also curious and did things like take apart a Casio watch and put it back together again just 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 started watching fishing shows from anglers like Hank Parker, Jerry McGinnis, Orlando Wilson, Roland Martin and Bill Dance. They all had an impact on us and over the years we got to know each of them personally.

Chris bass fishing

Chris bass fishing

   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 just 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 an ability to be persuasive, inspiring and motivating.

   There was a defining moment early one morning as we were heading out in our rental boat at Lake Casitas. We were rocked by dozens of bass boats leaving the marina in a bass tournament. 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?

Jordan caught this giant smallmouth with her dad recently.

Jordan caught this giant smallmouth with her dad recently.

   Now is a good time to mention that our son Chris has fishing in his DNA as well. Even though he was on his high school varsity volleyball team and 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 also likes to tag along with Chris, mainly for the fellowship. So it’s safe to say that fishing is in our family DNA, but so far only Aaron has made a career of it.

   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. Most of our family and fishing friends through the years 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 the rest of my life. But I digress. Most sports do require you have good eye and hand coordination which might explain why many people start out in sports but end up choosing a career in a totally different field? These people would more than likely have combinations of other gifts and skills. What’s unique about fishing is the fact 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 the things that led Aaron the Nature Boy to become Aaron, the Natural? He lived in an environment and took trips that allowed him 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 definitely had the support and encouragement from his family and now from his own 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 and because it’s in her DNA! I have no doubt about that.

Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.

Tournament Tips

Read More Fishing Tournament Tips