Tournament Fishing's Four-Letter Word: Part 1

A three-part series look at how competitive bass fishing has changed and evolved since the 1970s

Conventional wisdom says that conventional bass tournament fishing has come a long way in the last 45 years. I'm not so sure for a lot of reasons.


Once upon a time there was a man named Roland Martin. When he came onto the scene in the 1970s, he dominated the world of tournament bass fishing like no one before or since. In fact, it's safe to say that no one will ever dominate the sport as thoroughly as he did in the early '70s.

In 1970, Martin fished his first B.A.S.S. event and finished second. He won his second tournament. In his first 25 contests, Martin won 7 times, finished second 8 times, finished in the top-10 22 times and never finished worse than 16th.

Unlike today's contests, which never top 200 competitors, Martin's earliest tournaments sometimes had fields of 200-plus and occasionally more than 300. Yet he averaged a top-three finish in the first few years of his career.


Today the pros have exclusive use of their boat and motor throughout the event and can fish wherever they please, in the early 1970s Martin had to share a boat with another pro competing for the same prize money.

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