A Day On Lake Champlain With Scott R. Martin
By Mickey Maynard
When FLW Tour professional Scott Martin made his debut on Lake Champlain several years ago he finished fourth, missing the top spot by just a few ounces. On his return visit in 2004 he won the Forest Wood Open claiming the top prize of $200,000. That same year he won over half a million dollars fishing bass across the country. At age 30, Scott has made his mark as the youngest of the elite top ten money winners on the professional bass fishing tour. He’s had thirteen top ten tournament finishes during his brief seven year career and he’s back on Lake Champlain with a confident attitude to out-fish a field of stiff competition in the FLW Pro Tour event scheduled to begin in Plattsburgh, June 21st.
After spending twelve hours sight fishing the Vermont side of Lake Champlain I became better acquainted with Scott and his right hand man Randy Clark, who happens to be an FLW cameraman. I came away with new insight into the world of professional bass fishing and the serious efforts put into pre-tournament scouting. I also learned something about Scott. Not only is he a world-class angler, but he’s also a world-class gentleman.
Scott shared the front of his boat with me as he talked about what it takes to beat so many other experienced bass fishermen, “Good decisions win bass fishing tournaments. Adapting to changing weather, water temperature and general fish behavior is important, and so is overcoming the incidental hurdles that a fisherman might confront over a four day fishing tournament. Confidence, know-how and application of technology are also components of a winning formula.” Necessary pre-tournament scouting requires long days on the water, regardless of the extreme weather conditions that often arise.
To be successful a professional fisherman needs reliable sponsorship and a solid support team. “Good sponsorship like I get from BF Goodrich is essential to what I do”, Martin said. “Many fishermen end up in the red trying to compete without the proper financial support.” For the past six years Scott has relied heavily on the friendship and assistance of Randy. Likewise, he counts on his faithful wife Suzanne to keep the home fires burning.
Scott was open about his spirituality as well as his love for his family, “One reason I fish the FLW is because they promote family values.” Scott pointed out that Family Fun Zones are set up at weigh-ins. He also mentioned that time is spent by the pros meeting fans at sponsorship venues, and visiting sick children at local hospitals. Both Scott and Randy went out of their way to visit, and take photos, with my twelve-year-old son Marshall, graciously making him feel both welcome and privileged.
Both anglers admitted there is no better smallmouth bass fishery than Lake Champlain’s. Together they established a system of scouting for bass that is well suited for the lake’s abundant smallmouth population. As we scanned for hot spots, "wolf packs" of large female bass were observed in many locations cruising the shallows. With the accuracy of a Tiger Woods approach shot Martin masterfully cast his tube jig to unsuspecting fish, his lightweight Kistler fishing rod acting like an extension of his arm. Often just a light twitching of the tube’s skirt was all it took to get a fish to strike.
Scott Martin is not intimidated fishing against legends like Guido or Dion Hibdon, Larry Nixon, Clark Wendlandt, Jason Kilpatrick, Gary Yamamoto or even Shinichi Fukae, after all, he was raised by a great American fishing legend. Scott’s father, Roland Martin, now retired from professional bass fishing, won the first big bass fishing event on Lake Champlain primarily targeting largemouth on the northern end of the lake. Both Scott and his father host popular television fishing shows, and although Scott is respectful and proud of his father’s many accomplishments in the fishing realm, he strives to be his own man rather than ride coat tails. As one expression of his individuality, Scott won on Lake Champlain in 2004 targeting smallmouth. He plans to repeat the achievement this year. After besting every other big name fisherman on the tour at one time or another, the competitive natured Scott Martin has hidden a few covert techniques up his sleeve and has yet another objective in mind. “It would be great to see my father come out of retirement so I can beat him too”, he said with a grin.
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