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LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – Aaron Martens heard the chuckles from the crowd when he explained the primary pattern he used during the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels.

But as crazy as it sounded, he was serious.

Martens made a short run up the Colorado River each day and fished thick patches of shoreline vegetation where big largemouth bass were feeding on blackbirds. Flipping a bait designed to mimic their prey, he caught enough bass the first three days to enter Sunday’s championship round in fourth place. Then during the championship round, he caught five bass that weighed 19-5 and took home the $100,000 first-place prize with a four-day total of 68-9. He used a drop shot rig some during the week, too. But after the final weigh-in, the buzz was about the birds.

“I do that all the time,” Martens said. “I don’t know why people don’t believe me when I say it. The birds fall out of the nest, and the bass eat them. Birds are definitely part of their diet.”

Martens used a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce weight and a 4/0 Heavy Cover Gamakatsu hook rigged with a green pumpkin punch skirt and one of two plastic trailers. His choice of trailer was determined by which weight he was using — a large Rage Craw for the 1/2-ounce rig and a Speed Craw for the 3/4-ounce setup. He paid special attention to areas where lots of blackbirds were nesting.

“I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it, because I’ve known about it for 25 years,” said Martens, who said several fish spit up black feathers in his livewell during the tournament. “I’ve caught them in California and had them spit up full-grown blackbirds. Maybe it’s such a good pattern because so many people don’t believe it.”

Though the pattern led to a victory, Martens said there were times when it was frustrating to execute. The thickness of the tules that line the riverbanks, combined with the high winds that blew during much of the tournament, caused him lots of problems with tangles and forced him to change baits frequently. Once he hooked a fish deep in the tules, landing it was an adventure. The process was aided by a 7-foot, 6-inch extra-heavy flipping stick from the namesake series he helped design for Enigma. He also relied heavily on 30-pound Sunline SX1 braid.

“I had to use a 3/4-ounce weight instead of a 1/2-ounce today because I started pitching way back in the tules,” Martens said. “I would have loved to go even heavier, but I was afraid to. I had five or six bass drop the 3/4-ounce weight today, and I just didn’t think a 1 ounce would work.”

The come-from-behind victory was Martens’ seventh career win with B.A.S.S., and his first since 2012. It was particularly sweet, coming on the heels of his 13th career second-place finish at the Sacramento River last week.

“I told my wife after I got my 13th second that it was time for me to win a tournament,” Martens said. “I came here with 13 seconds and six wins. That math just really doesn’t add up.”

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