Casey Martin has just finished his rookie season fishing the FLW Tour Majors as a pro. And while most guys would be home relaxing; he's in Canada trying to become even better. Because he's hoping that this past year will be just the first of many for him as a pro.
We spoke in January right before Okeechobee. I mentioned then that it was like you had a "golden horseshoe" somewhere, and you went out on day 1 and caught a HUGE bag of fish. As the tournament went on and your lead shrank, you mentioned you were exhausted. Was it more physically taxing on you than you expected it to be?
For sure there were things that I hadn't fully anticipated. It was so different for me this year because at the end of the day I couldn't just load the boat up and go home. There are people who want to talk to you after each day's weigh-in is over, and I was filming Circuit Breaker which required recaps and things like that, PLUS I was staying about 40 minutes away from the lake. You add all that up, you eat, you retie and reorganize your gear and your boat, and pretty soon it's 10:30 or 11 o'clock at night and you have to get back up and do it all over again at 4 am.
And it's not like The Big O is always flat calm either.
No, lol, not at all. So your body is getting beaten up a little too.
So you leave there, you do ok for the next few events but you're not winning and/or placing in every event you fish either. Is it hard on you?
It's a huge difference, being in the front of the boat. You don't realize that it's really just one or two bites that's the difference between 15th or 115th. This season I had some highs and lows. It definitely is more mental than I thought. When you're a co-angler your focus is really only what can you throw for bait, because that's really the only thing you have control of. When you're in the front, then it's so much more than that. It's bait, it's your area, your co-angler, the cameraman, should I stay, should I go, are these fish gonna turn on? Not only that, but I made it a point to be self made in this sport, and paid all my entry fees out of pocket. And it's a huge difference to pay $4,000 to enter a tournament. It makes it that much more difficult to say "well at this point I'm just pot-committed to this spot", because you almost need to win $10,000 just to break even by the time you add gas, lodging, meals, and gear to your entry.
When I fished the Northern Open at the James River this year the cameraman followed me for over an hour. In the beginning, I didn't like it because I hadn't caught anything real good yet and I felt like it added pressure. Do you like having the camera around?
Yes and no. I mean, they're following you. Their trolling motor is running, their graph is running, you wonder if they're spooking fish, you feel like you wanna move but they want a shot first so you stay to try to get it, but you're mind is telling you to run. It's tough.
I asked you in January "Where do you think you'll have your best finish this year", not only did you win at Chickamauga, you absolutely D-E-S-T-R-O-Y-E-D that tournament. Your total weight was over 100 lbs, and you won by over 20, and you could've almost won a 4 day tournament in three days. Did you know in practice that you were on fish that good?
No way, not even close. I had, in fact my first spot actually when I rolled up on it the fish were gone. There was one other guy there and I'm not really sure if he fished it out or not, but my other spot I was sharing with two other guys and I only fished it real briefly in practice, I caught one 5 pounder and left. I had no idea that I was gonna be culling fish that big. And actually, I lost a big one the last day or I would've had a really great day!
Are you kidding me? You DID have a really great day!!!
(Laughing) Well, yeah, but you know what I mean.
The schedule for next year just came out, where are you most excited to go?
Kentucky Lake, or Pickwick. They're both great fisheries.
Anyplace where you were less than thrilled to be going?
Hartwell. I just don't have a lot of confidence with that body of water.
Anyplace you were hoping to have gone that didn't make it?
Guntersville. I was really hoping to go there because it's one of my favorite places to fish now.
One thing that I think most people don't understand about this sport is that as hard as it is for our families to be at home while we're gone, it's really hard on us to be away for so long. If there was an award for the most supportive wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/family member, Lindsey (Casey's girlfriend) would have to be the odds-on favorite to win it year after year until they named it after her. (Casey laughs a little when I say that). I know myself and a lot of other people out there would acknowledge that having that kind of support is really incredible.
Absolutely! She's been so patient and so wonderful, getting up, ya know, being ok with me being gone for long. Right now I'm in Canada trying to get better at targeting fish in deep water while she's at home and she's always encouraging me and helps me stay positive. And I gotta hand it to her because she's learned a lot in the last two years too, so it's not like she's just been around, ya know. But you're right, she should win an award. I'm really lucky to have her support.