Aaron Martens Leads Elite Wisconsin after Day 3

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courtesy B.A.S.S.

Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., leads day 3 of the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble presented by Power-Pole. He is joined on stage by Bassmaster High School Elite Experience participant Jace Smith from La Crosse Logan High School. Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Seven ounces.

After three days of competition, Aaron Martens was just 7 ounces from victory in last year’s Bassmaster Elite Series event on the Mississippi River.

Now Martens gets to play out a similar scenario on the same river, and he’s going for big bass in the same spot that put him in contention in 2012. And, oddly enough, once again 7 ounces plays into his game.

But now the advantage is his. On Saturday, Martens put himself 7 ounces in front of his nearest challenger in the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble presented by Power-Pole.

Martens of Leeds, Ala., amassed a 47-pound, 12-ounce total for the Rumble’s third-day lead.

Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., was the angler trailing Martens by 7 ounces. The day’s largest five-bass sack of 17-5 put Biffle in second place with a total of 47-5. In third place was John Crews of Salem, Va., with 42-14 — 4 pounds, 14 ounces behind the leader, or the size of one fat Mississippi River bass.

Brandon Card of Caryville, Tenn., pulled up into fourth place with 42-8. Fifth place was taken over by Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., with 41-9.

The field was cut to the Top 12 for Sunday’s final round, a competition for $100,000 and an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. The spread between first and 12th place was 6 pounds, 14 ounces. The last three anglers on the list all have the same weight, 40-14. The pros in seventh place through ninth place also have the same weight, 41-2.

That’s close enough for any of the 12 to win.

Martens, of course, would rather be 7 ounces ahead than 7 ounces behind. He said he knows his small lead isn’t significant. And the six-time Bassmaster winner is concerned his cache of largemouth bass will run dry.

“There are 4-pounders there, and lots of them,” he said, then retracted: “Well, maybe not lots of them now.”

By Saturday, he was slowing down and fishing more methodically. He also had to cover more water to get the bites he needed.

“Before, I hit one spot and was catching them on every cast. It’s not like that anymore,” Martens said.

Martens’ 16-5 bag of five largemouth included the largest bass of the day, a 4-15, and the leading contender for the Carhartt Big Bass bonus of $1,000 bonus plus another $500 for wearing Carhartt apparel. It was his fifth keeper of the day, he said. With those in the box, he backed off his main area to save some for Sunday.

Martens was declared the leader of Day 2 after Brandon Palaniuk’s second-day weight of 19-3 was disqualified Friday night because he culled a bass in Minnesota waters, which is against that state’s law. Without his Day 2 weight, Palaniuk fell out of Saturday’s 50-cut.

Thus Martens received the Livingston Leader Award, a $500 bonus for heading up the leaderboard after two days.

“I felt bad for Brandon, but also relief at the same time,” Martens said. “I think he would have dominated, been hard to catch. It would have been tough to beat him. Now I have a chance to win.”

Biffle has been managing one sweet piece of smallmouth heaven he said he found “by accident” during practice. For three days running, hitting that spot in the afternoon has been the key.

“I didn’t want to fish it out, and I didn’t want anyone to see me on it. But I’m going to start on it tomorrow,” he said. “I think I can catch an 18-pound bag if I stay there all day.”

Biffle has been increasing the size of his bags each day: 14-0, 16-0 and then today’s 17-5, which included three smallmouth from his secret spot. His other two were largemouth taken by flipping within minutes of the launch site.

Biffle is a six-time Bassmaster winner, including three Elite Series titles in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He’s doing well this year and has a solid chance after the eight-event regular season for a Bassmaster Classic berth by earning enough points. But he’s after the instant qualification that comes with an Elite win.

“I would rather have the win-you’re-in deal. That way I don’t have to worry about it,” he said.

The Rumble’s outcome on Sunday could solidify Edwin Evers’ lead in the 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Going into the Rumble, Evers of Talala, Okla., led the AOY race by 25 points over Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.

Evers qualified for Sunday’s final round, thus giving him a chance to squeeze more points out of the Rumble. Reese did not qualify for the finals. Martens, faring even better in the Rumble than Evers, is doing well enough to become a second challenger to Evers.

All Elite pros are earning points that count toward securing a Classic berth and a qualification for Toyota All-Star Week, the postseason event in September on Muskegon Lake out of Muskegon, Mich.

For Sunday’s championship finale, the pros will launch at 6:20 a.m. at Veterans Freedom Park in La Crosse. The weigh-in, at the same location, will begin at 3:15 p.m.

Fans can watch the pros prove the potential of the Upper Mississippi River, the fishery that earned the No. 17 spot on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list of 2013.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Expo will open at noon Sunday. The Expo features products of Elite Series sponsors, activities for kids, and much more. Fans can sign up for demo rides in Nitro, Skeeter and Triton bass rigs powered by Mercury and Yamaha engines.

All Bassmaster events are free.

Bassmaster.com will provide extensive online coverage Sunday, including blogs, video and BASSTrakk catch reports from on-the-water observers, and live reporting from the Lowrance War Room. During the weigh-in, streaming video and real-time leaderboards will be available. Live recaps from the Toyota Hooked Up! stage with Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona will be broadcast on Bassmaster.com. Access to all features is free.

Coverage of the Rumble will air on ESPN2 on June 30, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET, on The Bassmasters TV show.

The event is hosted jointly by the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.ExploreLaCrosse.com); the La Crosse Park, Recreation and Forestry Department; and the Onalaska Tourism Commission.

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Luck-E-Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada, Shimano

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

2013 Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble 6/20-6/23
Mississippi River, La Crosse  WI.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL               15  47-12   99     $500.00
Day 1: 5   14-04     Day 2: 5   17-03     Day 3: 5   16-05
2.  Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK             15  47-05   98
Day 1: 5   14-00     Day 2: 5   16-00     Day 3: 5   17-05
3.  John Crews             Salem, VA               15  42-14   97
Day 1: 5   15-07     Day 2: 5   13-01     Day 3: 5   14-06
4.  Brandon Card           Caryville, TN           15  42-08   96
Day 1: 5   14-09     Day 2: 5   13-09     Day 3: 5   14-06
5.  Fred Roumbanis         Bixby, OK               15  41-09   95
Day 1: 5   14-04     Day 2: 5   13-06     Day 3: 5   13-15
6.  Takahiro Omori         Emory, TX               15  41-08   94
Day 1: 5   14-03     Day 2: 5   12-09     Day 3: 5   14-12
7.  Bobby Lane             Lakeland, FL            15  41-02   93
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   11-09     Day 3: 5   15-04
8.  Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              15  41-02   92
Day 1: 5   14-11     Day 2: 5   11-12     Day 3: 5   14-11
9.  Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX              15  41-02   91
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   13-15     Day 3: 5   12-14
10. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK              15  40-14   90
Day 1: 5   13-05     Day 2: 5   12-06     Day 3: 5   15-03
11. Cliff Crochet          Pierre Part, LA         15  40-14   89
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   13-00     Day 3: 5   14-02
12. Randy Howell           Springville, AL         15  40-14   88
Day 1: 5   13-14     Day 2: 5   13-08     Day 3: 5   13-08
13. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL            15  40-12   87  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-06     Day 2: 5   14-01     Day 3: 5   13-05
14. Casey Scanlon          Lenexa, KS              15  40-03   86  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   11-14     Day 3: 5   14-00
15. Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN           15  39-12   85  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-10     Day 2: 5   13-13     Day 3: 5   12-05
16. David Walker           Sevierville, TN         15  39-07   84  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-08     Day 2: 5   13-00     Day 3: 5   13-15
17. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX              15  39-05   83  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-05     Day 2: 5   12-13     Day 3: 5   13-03
18. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ             15  39-04   82  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   12-08     Day 3: 5   13-11
19. Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ    15  39-04   81  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   12-14     Day 3: 5   13-08
20. Alton Jones            Lorena, TX              15  39-02   80  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   12-14     Day 3: 5   13-05
21. Scott Rook             Little Rock, AR         15  39-00   79  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   10-12     Day 2: 5   15-11     Day 3: 5   12-09
22. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          15  39-00   78  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   13-02     Day 3: 5   12-15
23. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS               15  38-13   77  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-07     Day 2: 5   13-00     Day 3: 5   13-06
24. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI           15  38-08   76  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-06     Day 2: 5   12-02     Day 3: 5   13-00
25. Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA         15  38-01   75  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   12-06     Day 3: 5   13-09
26. John Murray            Phoenix, AZ             15  38-00   74  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   12-05     Day 3: 5   13-13
27. Kevin Short            Mayflower, AR           15  37-15   73  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-04     Day 2: 5   12-03     Day 3: 5   13-08
28. Kevin Hawk             Guntersville, AL        15  37-14   72  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-00     Day 2: 5   09-11     Day 3: 5   12-03
29. Chris Zaldain          San Jose, CA            15  37-13   71  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   11-14     Day 3: 5   14-01
30. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA              15  37-01   70  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-04     Day 2: 5   12-01     Day 3: 5   10-12
31. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS        15  37-00   69  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-10     Day 2: 5   12-01     Day 3: 5   13-05
32. Davy Hite              Ninety Six, SC          15  36-13   68  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-04     Day 2: 5   12-01     Day 3: 5   12-08
33. Ish Monroe             Hughson, CA             15  36-08   67  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   11-14     Day 3: 5   12-08
34. Paul Elias             Laurel, MS              15  36-07   66  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-01     Day 2: 5   10-08     Day 3: 5   11-14
35. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ         15  36-06   65  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 5   11-10     Day 3: 5   12-07
36. Kelly Jordon           Palestine, TX           15  36-02   64  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   10-02     Day 2: 5   14-01     Day 3: 5   11-15
37. Casey D Ashley         Donalds, SC             15  35-14   63  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-06     Day 2: 5   11-07     Day 3: 5   12-01
38. J Todd Tucker          Moultrie, GA            15  35-11   62  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   09-10     Day 3: 5   12-05
39. Shaw E Grigsby Jr.     Gainesville, FL         14  35-05   61  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   11-13     Day 3: 4   10-11
40. Grant Goldbeck         Boerne, TX              15  35-05   60  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-12     Day 2: 5   11-10     Day 3: 5   10-15
41. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL              15  34-13   59  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-09     Day 2: 5   11-03     Day 3: 5   11-01
42. Matt Herren            Trussville, AL          15  34-11   58  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-00     Day 2: 5   11-04     Day 3: 5   09-07
43. Billy McCaghren        Mayflower, AR           15  34-09   57  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-06     Day 2: 5   11-04     Day 3: 5   09-15
44. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          15  34-09   56  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   11-07     Day 3: 5   11-04
45. Fletcher Shryock       New Philadelphia, OH    15  34-06   55  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 5   12-08     Day 3: 5   10-09
46. Michael Simonton       Fremont, OH             15  34-04   54  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 5   11-05     Day 3: 5   09-06
47. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL        14  33-08   53  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-07     Day 2: 5   10-09     Day 3: 4   09-08
48. Dennis Tietje          Roanoke, LA             15  33-07   52  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-04     Day 2: 5   11-04     Day 3: 5   09-15
49. Pete Ponds             Madison, MS             14  30-13   51  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 5   12-04     Day 3: 4   07-04
50. Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR          9  23-05   50   $5,000.00
Day 1: 4   11-05     Day 2: 5   12-00     Day 3: 0   00-00
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        84       471      1156-03
2        72       430      1017-00
3        46       242       622-09
———————————-
202      1143      2795-12