Back to 1970 with Roland Martin

Photo Brenda Serrano.

Photo Brenda Serrano.

A couple of days ago I posted a piece on Kevin VanDam and I stated that I’d followed his career before he was actually KVD. Most of that was because of my close friend and mentor, Dave Green, but after 1991 I followed his career because he was nearly my age and he was kicking everyone’s sphincter on the The Trail. You had to follow Kevin in his early years – you were forced to merely because of his success against anglers twice his age.

Today, though, I’m posting a piece about my first bass fishing hero – Roland Martin. You have to understand, when I first joined B.A.S.S. in 1974, Roland was the king. He’d won the past three Bassmaster AOYs and his articles in Bassmaster Magazine taught me how to think as a bass fisherman. Every article he wrote I read, digested and tried to apply to my fishing – as a 10 year-old. I didn’t just go fishing at the park or local lake to practice my casting (sorry Stan, I practiced my casting in the street much to the chagrin of my neighbors and their car windows), I went with the intent on finding a pattern and catching fish. That’s what Roland Martin instilled in me. There was a method and if you could figure out where the fish were with respect to season, temperature, depth and other factors, you’d catch fish.

It was the first time I was exposed to the scientific, experimental method.

Since that time my Bassmaster Magazine collection has grown and I’ve worn out the magazines I’ve collected from 1968 through the early 1970s. In those magazines I have read every word of every article and every ad contained within those covers. Within those pages are reams of accolades and wisdom from many of the top anglers of the time but the ones that registered with me most fervently were those from Roland.

Bill Dance (front center) and Roland Martin (front left) await the final tally for the 1970 Table Rock event. The results would not only decide the winner of the Table Rock tournament but also the first Bass Master Angler of the Year winner. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jan/Feb 1971.

Bill Dance (front center) and Roland Martin (front left) await the final tally for the 1970 Table Rock event. The results would not only decide the winner of the Table Rock tournament but also the first Bass Master Angler of the Year winner. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jan/Feb 1971.

At ICAST this year I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to dinner with the Yamamoto staff along with Roland Martin, his wife Judy and Walt Reynolds. I was even more surprised when I was seated next to Roland. It would be my time to talk to him about his early career – most importantly his first year on tour. We talked at dinner and at the end scheduled a time to video an interview the next day about his first year on the Bassmaster tour – 1970.

That year Martin would place second in the first-ever AOY points race. What muddled things up was Martin missed an entire event. I wanted to talk with him about his first year on tour. The interview below is exactly that. I hope you enjoy.

 

  • Ralph Manns

    A saltwater angler in my youth, started fishing freshwater in 1957, when the USAF, with infinite wisdom, stationed me at Altus OK for about 8 years. But in those days I felt lucky to catch one or two black bass per trip. There wasn’t much instruction and guidance in magazines like Sports Afield and books then. I learned about Rapalas via Life Magazine.

    After a 3-year interlude in SEA, I was sent to Washington D.C. Sometime after arrival in August 1969, likely mid-winter 1969-70, I saw an ad for bass fishing instruction in Maryland.

    The featured speakers were John Powell and a young, blond, Santee-Cooper guide. Roland gave a fascinating talk and sold us his superb guide map of Lakes Marion and Moultry. In the following springs I spent leaves in S. Carolina. Thanks to
    Roland and an experience angler named Chuck Oliver who I met at Marion, I caught my first 8s and catches of more than 2-3 bass.

    Soon after the seminar I joined B.A.S.S. and earning a member number less than 100. I bought back issues so my magazine collection started with number one. I bought red reels, stiff pistol-grips, tightened my drags down, and tried to develop a crushing hook-set.

    But it didn’t really start learning how to bass fish until I was stationed in Austin Texas in 1973 and joined a bass club. By 1977 I had learned enough to routinely catch several per trip and think of a daily limit as a reasonable objective. These experiences led to my studying bass biology and management and eventual career as a bass behavior and biology writer. So, I thank Roland for a great deal.

    • Terry Battisti

      Ralph,

      Great story. You saw Roland in 1969? Amazing. I wonder if he was a dynamic then as he is now?

      Terry