A standout for Adrian College back in the day, you might remember Jarrett Martin from one of the most iconic College Fishing National Championship fish catches of all time, when he and Nickolas Marsh pulled a giant from under a dock in the waning hours of the 2019 National Championship on the Potomac River. Now, Martin has added another Potomac highlight, albeit one that pays better than a great internet moment and a college Top 10, taking home a new Phoenix boat, plus $12,500 in winnings and contingency money for his win in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Regional on the Potomac River. The event was presented by The Bass University TV.
With a total of 47 pounds, 7 ounces for 14 fish, Martin averaged over 15 pounds a day to win in style. A big part of that was a massive 20-11 catch on Day 2, which put him squarely on top and in position to outlast the rest of the competition on a tough final day.
For most of the event, he mined a stretch of mats in Pohick Creek, which is where most of the rest of the contenders fished as well.
“Pre-fishing was a little bit rough,” Martin said. “I tried to go run a lot of the patterns I’ve run in the past, I’d been there twice, I caught a couple of fish on docks, but I couldn’t get a solid milk run going like I have before. So, it resulted in going into the creeks and really dissecting the creeks. I fished and fished and fished and really never found anything until the last day, and I finally went up into Pohick.”
In Pohick, he immediately started to get quality frog bites. Though he didn’t actually catch any, he had a starting spot, and when he found the area, nobody else was around.
“I pulled in the first morning, and there were already six boats all over the entire flat,” he said. “So, I went into the corner where I had caught them and started going back and forth, on like a 100-yard stretch. I’d just go back and forth on it all day, when the tide was wrong, the fish would come up hit it, but they’d never actually eat it until that tide got right.”
Through the event, Martin figured out that the tide needed to be at a certain level. Whether it was rising or falling didn’t matter.
“I figured out that a 1.9-foot tide was the best tide,” Martin detailed. “Regardless of it going up or going down, for some reason, right there in that spot I was in, once 1.9 hit you could see big red crawdads come up to the surface and start flicking around in that scum, and man, they just started eatin’. You’d get a 30-minute window where they would just eat.”
On Day 1, Martin rustled up 14-5 all day. On Day 2, he hit the tide just right and put the biggest bag of the tournament on deck in a jiffy.
“On Day 2, I rolled into that spot – first cast, 4-pounder,” Martin said. “I looked back at the tide, it was at 1.8. I was like, ‘Alright, it’s coming up, these fish are about to go off.’ And they did. It was unbelievable, I had all of my fish by 8:45 a.m. that morning. I just sat in that spot with a flipping rod in my hand and protected it all day.”
On the final day, Martin was thrown a pretty significant curveball by the weather. With most of the top anglers also fishing in Pohick, adjusting wasn’t an easy task.
“On Day 3, I roll into there, and the wind is blowing in there,” he said. “I pulled in, and looked at my waypoints, and I’m already 20 yards past my waypoints, going to the mats. I was sitting where the fish were. I was like ‘This is bad, this is not ideal.’”
After scratching out one keeper early, Martin got dealt some more bad luck. The fish in Pohick started biting, but for Jim Vitaro and others who were fishing alongside him, not where Martin was.
“For some reason, those fish fire off to [Vitaro’s] right,” Martin said. “As soon as those fish fire, everybody kind of circles up and tries to get in on the action. I’m pretty much blocked out, and I didn’t want to go in there. So, I pull the plug around 10:30 or 11, run to the other side and catch a 3-pounder and put it in the box.”
Around 11:30, with just two in the box and his main area wrecked from the wind, Martin knew things were slipping away.
“Luckily, my co-angler [Brian Short] had caught some good ones in Mattawoman,” Martin said. “He said we ought to run back in there if nothing else gets going. At probably 11:30, we decided to send it on back there. So, we run back, start fishing this mat, and like the fifth cast, I catch a 4-pounder. We go a little farther, another 20 minutes, and I catch a 3-pounder. That was all I could get, so thank goodness for him having caught some fish there the day before.”
As it turns out, four fish on the final day got the job done, sending Martin home to Ohio with the biggest payday of his career. Almost as good, is that he caught literally every one of his fish on a frog. Doing most of his work with a SPRO Bronzeye 65 in black, Martin also caught a few on a BOOYAH Pad Crasher in cricket frog. For his tackle, he rolled with a Shimano Curado, a 7-foot, 3-inch, heavy power Daiwa Tatula Elite and 65-pound Sufix 832 braid.
A Project Engineer at Thomas Door Controls, Martin has won before in college and fished live on the final day of the National Championship, but this is his biggest win yet.
“I don’t think it’s really fully processed yet,” Martin said. “I drove all the way home, 8 hours, right after, and I had all kinds of phone calls and texts. I just answered the phone the whole time, I never listened to music or anything, I was just silent. I couldn’t believe it, this is what we work for, this is what everybody works for. There are so many factors that go into tidal water, making it so you can have success, being able to win, it’s definitely a dream come true. Making the All-American, I think the All-American is one of the most coveted tournaments out there, I never thought I would be in this position.”
1. Jarrett Martin – 47 – 07 (14) – $62,500 (includes $2,500 Phoenix Bonus)
2. Jim Vitaro – 46 – 10 (15) – $10,000
3. Ryan Powroznik – 44 – 06 (15) – $5,000
4. Christopher Helfer – 44 – 01 (15) – $3,000
5. Brody Campbell – 44 – 01 (15) – $2,000
6. Michael Duarte – 43 – 10 (15) – $1,800
7. Josh Smith – 43 – 03 (15) – $1,800
8. Cody Salzmann – 42 – 05 (15) – $1,900
9. Bryan Elrod – 41 – 01 (15) – $1,200
10. Dick Shaffer – 39 – 09 (15) – $1,000
The top six boaters and Strike King co-anglers qualified for the 2022 All-American.