This past week was a BASSmaster’s Elite series stop in my hometown of La Crosse. And much like last year, it was a huge hit for both anglers and fans. I was given the opportunity to watch and interview one of my personal favorites Aaron Martens, who like last year took second place in this stop of the tournament trail.
Martens, a river fishing expert, came into this stop obsessed with La Crosse, last year he did so well but fell just short- that he had his mind made up that he was going to do what it takes to win. The four-day series was riddled with thunderstorms, one delayed the series launch on Friday morning. Anglers struggled to find the fish as a lot of locations that were held true during pre-fishing got blown out from high water. On Friday’s weigh-in, Martens was a far second place, roughly five lbs behind Brandon Palaniuk; where in an unfortunate turn of events, got disqualified for a rule violation. The disqualification bumped Martins into first with just a few ounces separating him from Tommy Biffle. Brandon Palaniuk was on the smallies and on fire, when he inadvertently crossed into Minnesota and culled a bass. It was an innocent mistake, and one that- a few feet would have made a difference- but it was a broken law none the less and cost him the day’s bag and tournament.
Coming into Sunday’s final day of the tournament, it was ounces separating Martens knew he had to go big or stay home. The morning started out slow for Martens until mid-morning where he had a real nice run of a school of large feeding bass. Sunday weigh-in was the battle of the bass. Martens largemouth versus Biffle’s smallies and it came right down to the wire. Martens was the last to weigh in; and came in second place with a bag of 13 lbs.
Overall the tournament was a success for the anglers, they all commented on the fishery of the Upper Mississippi. Said Martens, “I was hitting a lot of bass- a lot of them; but I just couldn’t seem to shake past that 3-3.5 lbs mark. ‘Yall got a real nice fishery here, It’s amazing to have a 100 fish day.”
There are unconfirmed reports of a BASS tournament coming to La Crosse in 2015.