Lady Angler Carol Martens Still Fishing AroundLady Angler Carol Martens Still Fishing Around After 30 years of fishing tournaments, this senior and grandmother is still going strong. This is how she does it.
By Carol Martens
It was 1988 when my son Aaron and I started fishing on multiple team circuits together. We competed until Aaron went pro around 1996, so I went pro as well.
I fished the US Opens, Everstart, National Bass, and the North and South divisions of Won Bass. While I was sponsored by Crown Royal, I fished Bassmasters and BASS when they were out west. In addition, I fished as a non-boater with Won Bass, ABA, Redman and Western Bass. Most of the time I was one of the few, if not the only, women and always liked the distinction.
It has been about 7 years since I have fished a bass tournament due to my late husband’s illness. But this year I was persuaded to once again participate in the Won Bass US Open on Lake Mead last October. It was a huge event with 224 boats, 443 guys and 5 ladies anglers.
I’ve fished this tournament about 7 times as the only lady pro, and around 10 as a non-boater. My friend Liz and I went as non-boaters along with Rachel Uribe and Akiko. Chris Zaldain's wife, Trait, fished as the only lady pro.
Akiko came all the way from Japan by herself to fish as she often does with or without her associates. She does very well in tournaments in Japan.
This year was a family affair because my son Aaron drove his rig out from Alabama to defend his 3 US Open titles. My other son, Chris, came from Lancaster, California with his wife Trish to fish as a non-boater. So on that first day we were able to spend quality time together and catch up on our sleep as well.
This event has always been considered a grueling event. There’s a week of pre-fishing followed immediately by the 3-day tournament. It’s also quite a drive from Vegas back and forth each day. In the past it seemed I never had time to do anything but prepare for the next day, take a shower, try to eat something and go to bed for a few hours’ sleep. Because it used to be held during the desert summer, fighting the elements and the very real possibility of heat stroke added to the difficulty of this tournament. So moving it to October was a welcome change.
This year we were all disappointed when the first day was cancelled due to high winds. I don’t recall this event ever cancelling a day.
With all the pre-fishing pressure plus a weather system that moved through, the fishing was on the tough side. Steve Tosh Jr won the event with 24.94 lbs. Guys from BASS and FLW showed up and most of them got checks. Kurt Dove 4th, Kevin Short 6th, Randy Blaukat 10th, Steve Kennedy 14th Chris Zaldain 16th, Aaron Martens 37thand Luke Clausen 42nd.The non-boater winner was Matt Pangrac from Ok. And Rachel Uribe out of the 5 women finished 48th.
I didn’t break the top 100, but I’m already looking forward to next year. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was for me to be on Lake Mead again and see it from a boat instead of an airplane!
Most of us know that water levels have continued to drop year after year. I’m probably one of the few who got to fish it back in the old days when the lake was full. Believe it or not, I think the fish and the lake are better now.
When the lake was full, the water was gin clear. I distinctly remember being able to see a fish swimming under the boat on a reef at least 50 ft. or more down in the Overton Arm. I dropped a Texas Rigged worm down and watched the fish swim over and eat it, and then I caught it. Aaron remembers seeing the shadow of our boat on a reef over 70 ft. down because the water was that clear.
But the bass were few and skinny due to lack of nutrients and bait among other things. In the past we had 7 fish limits and it was good if you came in with 7 lbs.!
Now the lake level is lower, and it has more bait and nutrients. You can usually only see a few feet down now. I was surprised to see all the weed beds, trees and brush in the water.
The lake is absolutely beautiful and nothing like I expected. It stirred my emotions and memories looking way up a dry creek or canyon and remembering how I used to fish there with Aaron and so many old friends.
As nostalgic as I can get, it’s exciting to look forward to the future knowing that Mead is thriving and the largemouth and smallmouth are two and three times bigger than they were in the past. If you’re a striped bass angler, you can catch a boat full easily almost anywhere and anytime.
Previously I wrote about the Texas Rig being my favorite set up. I’m happy to report I caught all my fish at the Open on a Texas Rigged Robo worm.
Since the Open, I’ve been fishing Castaic weekly and putting to use the things I’ve learned. In my opinion the Texas Rig is still king at Castaic. Last week among all the bass, I caught a nice striped bass on a Texas rig. He went in the fry pan!
Last week my friend Liz caught a 6 lb. largemouth on a Texas rig, her biggest bass this year. We are thinking it may be time to try a jig for the winter. Of course, if that doesn’t work, we can always go back to my favorite you-know-what rig.
In closing you should know I had a number of concerns about taking on a 3-day tournament not knowing who I would draw and what the conditions might be. I can honestly say I drew a couple of great guys, Tom Nokes and Steve Molinari. I’ve fished with hundreds of people and made many friends which I consider a bonus when it comes to draw tournaments.
This tournament was so enjoyable, and I was able to physically handle it, that Liz and I decided right away to fish the US Open at Lake Havasu in Jan. 2019. As a senior and great grandmother, I never dreamed I would fish tournaments again, but here I am!
After 30 years I still love fishing, people and competitions so don’t be surprised if I show up on one of your lakes someday in my white and purple Ranger boat. I’m still fishing around and loving it!
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