Rabbit TrailsRabbit Trails Seemingly random and intertwined, rabbit trails can enrich our lives. Like this example.
By Carol Martens
Well, it’s spring and I feel like I traveled down many rabbit trails this past month while recovering from the flu. It was a busy time with some highlights that I would like to share with you. Maybe you will learn something new, or at least get a warm and happy feeling, and something to reflect on in your own life.
Sometimes a trail can be a familiar and well-traveled one like the Fred Hall Boat and Tackle Shows. Back in the 90’s, Aaron and I started doing lectures about fishing on the Bass Bin at the shows. I kept doing them after Aaron left California, but had to stop for a while 6 years ago to care for my husband. This year I was invited again to be a daily speaker on the Bass Bin in Long Beach. A number of people told me that they use to listen to my seminars years ago and how helpful it was. To this day, I encourage people, no matter how much they know, to sit in on lectures and presentations whenever they have the opportunity. I listened to a couple of young and upcoming anglers at the show and learned something new from both of them. It is amazing how many ways there are to catch a fish, and we’ll never know them all.
I also worked in the Big Bear Fishing Association booth with Aaron Armstrong, who has just started the new fishing association. I’m helping him promote the All Fish events and Trout Fest tournaments in Big Bear this year. You might want to check it out on www.bigbearfishingassociation.org. Big Bear is a popular destination in California because it is centrally located, and offers so many activities for every age. Boating and fishing are my favorites, and over the years I transitioned from fishing for trout to targeting the chunky smallmouth and largemouth that abide there. Breathing the fresh air, the many great accommodation choices (Cool Cabins - my favorite), and dining in the many pubs and restaurants, are what bring me back on a regular basis.
Multitudes of people attend these types of shows to shop for a boat and increase their tackle arsenal. My family and I went to this same show in the late 80’s to purchase our first boat, and to learn more about fishing for bass. Less than a year later, we joined a couple of team tournament circuits. We started with American Bass Association. This year they had their booth next to the Bass Bin, once again. Craig Sutherland and his family were there signing up people to fish their circuit, which is now in 11 western states! They were just in Southern Cal when we joined. ABA encourages family and friends to fish together, makes it fun, and rewards them. Check out www.americanbass.com.
When we joined, they created a Mother and Son trophy, followed by various other types of trophies. There were only a few ladies fishing in the 90’s, but now the number of women and girls fishing, especially in team tournaments, has exploded. My motto has always been to “Keep Fishing Fun”, and to encourage ladies and girls to participate in the sport of fishing. In 2007, the California Dept. of Fish and Game recognized me as an official California Fishing Ambassador for my inspiration and dedication to helping introduce more women and youth to the enjoyment of fishing. This was a confirmation to me that I had made a difference, and was something to be proud of.
With just two days between the Fred Hall Show and the Bassmaster Classic in South Carolina you could say the rabbit trails were crossing each other. After arriving in S.C. and not feeling well, I did manage to attend the Media Day before the Classic, and had the opportunity to interview and take photos of all the participating anglers. Aaron took his first look at me and said I looked terrible and would only give me a Hollywood hug. Then Glenn and Keri, the owners of www.bassresource.com, showed up and the three of them sat across the table from me. I dealt with it, although I never saw Keri and Glenn again after that. I still want that dinner they promised me.
Some of the anglers I talked to were Mark Davis, Mark Daniels, Ott Defoe, and my son Aaron. Mark Davis will be out of the Elites this year due to an upcoming hip surgery, but he fished all three days and placed 24th. Mark Daniels caught the biggest bass of the Classic, a 6-11 beauty, and placed 15th in this, his first Classic. Ott Defoe (a fan favorite) finished in 6th and Aaron in 9th. I don’t usually interview the most popular guys for my own reasons, but I know how to pick winners. Feeling better, I did attend the final weigh-in and felt it was one of the best I’ve been to in 20 years. I hope you are able to attend a Classic someday.
I’m certain every person who fished the Classic has a story about what could have been, or about the fish they lost and the difference it made. Jason Christie just needed one more keeper on the final day to win and never caught it. His pattern that had worked for the first two days fizzled on the final day. Like Aaron, Jason has come close many times and will feel the pangs of loss for many years. It also reminds me of the time that KVD beat Aaron in Pittsburgh all because Aaron threw back the keeper he needed to win because he thought it might be short. It’s amazing what one little keeper can do. Aaron told me he felt he could have won this Classic if he would have targeted largemouth instead of smallmouth. A 2 lb. penalty for having six fish on the boat for a few minutes of fishing didn’t help him either. With the two extra pounds he would have placed 4th. The reason Aaron had six fish in his live well is a wild one. He had a 5 lb. bass break off, he grabbed another rod and cast it out, capturing the line that was beginning to sink, and snagged it with the lure while trolling towards the bass. He was able to get to the line and grab it and then hand reel the fish in. It was so traumatic that after putting the fish in the live well Aaron told his marshal that he had to sit for a few minutes and compose himself. After he calmed down he went back to fishing, forgetting to throw back his sixth fish. He said that on all three days of the Classic, he had to hand reel a large bass to the boat for three different reasons. He did get all three of them in.
On a sad note, it was just three years ago at the Lake Hartwell Classic that I had to call Aaron the night before the Classic began and tell him his dad had just passed away. I knew it would affect his performance, but I had to do it. Just before this Classic Andy Montgomery’s dad passed away unexpectedly. I understand that Andy went right home because of the circumstances and didn’t compete. My thoughts and prayers are with Andy and his family.
It’s a tradition that I attend the Classic and then drive home with Aaron to spend more time with the family. We drove to Alabama on Monday, and Aaron and I went fishing on Logan Martin on Tuesday. It was rainy, windy, and freezing and not the best idea while trying to recover from flu, but I did it. Towards evening hypothermia was setting in and I wondered if I would die. If you ever wonder where Aaron gets his stamina from - it’s me! Aaron and I spent Thursday on Logan Martin with much nicer weather. We caught over 50 largemouth and spots, and I got to catch my fish with a shaky head. It was lots of fun.
As a mom it means so means a lot to me to still be able to fish with Aaron, even if it’s just a few times a year. With no seats on the boat, and because I was recovering from the flu, sometimes I would just sit down on the back deck with my back against the driver seat and fish. During the day, I turned around to see Aaron sitting on the front deck fishing, and took a photo. After looking at the photo, I came up with a commercial for Aaron and his sponsors…With a Phoenix boat, a Minn Kota i-Pilot trolling motor, Simms clothing, and Nationwide to back you up, who wouldn’t enjoy fishing? This is what I meant by “warm feelings” at the end of the happiest trail of all, fishing with my son. Happy trails to you.
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