Friday, June 22, 2018

2018 Bassmaster Elite Mississippi River Day 2: Aaron Martens Leads by Ounce over Tharp!

Strong fishing despite flooding 
By Thomas Allen

Martens and Zaldain share honey hole.
(Photo: BASS)
With this tournament being his fourth visit to the legendary Upper Mississippi River, Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., is now eyeballing a $100,000 payday as he took the lead at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing.
The water is rising at La Crosse, but it’s not stopped the big largemouth and smallmouth bass from eating with regularity. River levels are expected to remain within the forecasted range: 12 feet high by Sunday, and cresting sometime Monday.
Twelve feet is considered flood stage, which will certainly impact the fishing from day to day.
Regardless of challenging river conditions, Martens posted a five-bass limit that weighed 17 pounds, 14 ounces to push him to the atop of the leaderboard with a two-day total of 34-3.

The three-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year finished in fifth place in 2012 when the Elite Series visited La Crosse, second in 2013 and 30th in 2016.
To say he wants to win here is an understatement.
“I know the winning limit of fish is swimming where I'm fishing,” he said. “I want to prove it this time. But a number of factors are going to have to go my way for that to happen.”
Over the years, he’s spent a lot of time across this vast fishery, and he said it’s an amazing place to come and catch a lot of bass. But his location close to the launch in Veterans Freedom Park continues to produce quality fish year after year.
“I keep coming back to the same location when we compete here. I’ve done well fishing in that area every single time, and I see no reason to change my approach,” he said. “It might bite me this time, but right now I'm confident the fish I need to win are there to be caught.”
Martens is sharing water with California angler Chris Zaldain.
Zaldain put together an impressive limit that weighed 17-11, pushing his two-day total to 32-7 and placing him fourth. 
“Chris and I are both fishing for the same fish, but we’re being respectful of each other, and that’s important,” Martens said. “We both want to win, and fishing so closely together will make things interesting for sure.”
The rising floodwaters worried second-place Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., who is only an ounce behind Martens aftering weighing in 17-11 Friday for a 34-2 total.

“During practice, and even today, I thought the rising water would hurt my pattern,” Tharp said. “But surprisingly, the fishing was better today. I caught what I weighed in early enough to sit down and eat lunch, a luxury that I don’t often take advantage of during a tournament. I hope my luck continues tomorrow.”

Rounding out the Top 5 are Gerald Spohrer with 32-13, Zaldain with 32-7 and Jacob Powroznik with 32-6.
Takeoff will occur at Veterans Freedom Park in La Crosse, Wis., at 6 a.m. CT, and weigh-in will move to Valley View Mall on Clinton Street for Saturday and Sunday and begin at 3 p.m.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will be held in conjunction with the tournament. It will take place at Valley View Mall on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon. The event will feature boat demo rides, an aquarium, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market. The Rock-N-Ribs Festival will also be happening at Valley View Mall along with concerts, food and the bbq competition. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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