by: Andrew Upshaw


Many people ask me what got me started in bass fishing?  My simple and easy response is Tommy Martin.  I guess its appropriate that I tell you why and how he got me fishing.  It all started when my father, who was a Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, moved to Hemphill, a small town in deep deep east Texas.  Well we lived there a few years, and I fished out in the pasture ponds with my ol favorite lures a beetle spin and a yellow cricket crankbait, but yet I didn’t bass fish yet. One day my parents decided to move to the lake, all I could think of was getting a chance to fish another place since I had practically seined my favorite pond.

Well a year went by and I learned some very basics in bass fishing, read a lot of articles but yet still didn’t love it.  One day I found out that two of my classmates were Blake Martin and Brian Martin, which are Tommy Martins two boys.  Well Blake and Brian both played football for my dad and also some of my best friends so I immediately was so ready to meet their dad.  All I ever heard about from the locals was that Tommy Martin was the best, so of course I really wanted to meet him.  Well one Saturday morning I woke up and my mom told me Tommy Martin had called for me, and I told her she was nuts.  She told me that he wanted to take me fishing on Sam Rayburn.  So of course that entire week of school up to the point of going fishing with Mr. Martin was a complete blur.  I was actually getting the chance of a lifetime to go with by far my favorite professional angler. I wouldn’t of thought it could get any better than this, but I was wrong.

Two days before our scheduled day to go his wife, Shelia Martin, calls my mom and tells her that I should just come stay at the house with them that night because Tommy and I were going to get up early to go.  Well my mom asked me if I wanted to and you and only imagine the response to that question.  Well I go to Mr. Martins the night before Saturday, and upon entering his home the first thing we walked through was his tackle room.  I was in complete amazement.  I had never seen so much tackle in my life!  There were tons of things in there, and not only that everything was in complete order.  I was speechless.  Well that night I couldn’t sleep a wink, all I could dream of was catching a big bass, at that time my biggest was about 4 and half pounds.  Well that’s when I woke up…

That Saturday morning Tommy came in and woke me up, and he told me that he didn’t think we were going to be able to go.  I asked why and he told me to got to the living room.  I did of course and looked outside, the wind was whipping and it was pouring down rain and lightening.  I was crushed, but he told me if it lightened up we would still go.  So of course I was like OK great!  Well it did eventually let up a little but not much.  We got to Sam Rayburn and launched the boat.  I asked him what we were going to do and he told me flipping.  I was fine with that I was just happy to be there.  Well we flipped for an hour and he picked up a buzz bait.  It was fall on Sam Rayburn and overcast…the perfect conditions for a buzz bait.  Well he hadn’t been throwing it 5 min and he catches one about 6 pounds.  Well like 30 min goes by and he catches another 5 pounder.  By this time I told him to get me a buzz bait.  He did but it wasn’t the same color as his, but I honestly didn’t care.  He went on to catch a few more 4 to 6 pounders, and I finally caught about a 4 pounder, not quite what I was looking for, but yet it was still my first buzz bait fish.  We finally pulled into this one pocket and Mr. Martin had made like 3 cast with the buzz bait and a monster came out to eat it.  Tommy missed it and looked at me and told me that was an 8 pounder.  I was already in shock about the 4 to 6 pounders, but for him to say this was overwhelming.  Then Tommy did probably the nicest thing any person in the same boat as me has ever done before; he leans over cuts my buzz bait off and ties his on my line.  I asked him what he was doing and he said “Its your turn now”.  Now this is the buzz bait that he just missed an 8 pounder on so of course I was extremely nervous.  Well we continue through the pocket and I finally catch her, not a giant, but yet my biggest at the time; the fish was a little over 5 pounds.  Needless to say we ended the day with a really big sack of fish (thanks to Tommy catching all the fish).

The Turn

Now you ask why is Tommy Martin the “real” reason I fish?  To me this is simple, not only did he hook me for bass fishing, but he hooked me for competitive bass fishing.  He taught me lessons on the water that I will never forget.  Not only did he fish, but he talked.  Not just about all his success, but about the industry.  He told me what my major needed to be in college if I wanted to be a successful professional fisherman, and that was marketing.  He also told me that the only truly successful professional fisherman are humble.  At that time I didn’t know what “humble” was so I didn’t know how to be “humble”.

The Right Direction

Well a few years went by, actually a lot of years, and I finally started to be successful in bass fishing tournaments.  Of course I talked some and tried to help people in fishing because at that time I felt like I knew it all.  I was wrong.  I talked a little too much and to some older gentlemen it seemed I was boastful.  Yet all I ever really wanted was people to catch them like me sometimes.  Well I got a phone call from a close friend and he told me what was being said about me.  I was shocked. I didn’t feel like I had said anything hurtful to people but yet I guess they took some things the wrong way.  Needless to say I wanted to quit.  I didn’t want to be the “talk of everyone”, especially that kind of talk.  Well one night I got the courage to call Tommy.  He had heard some of the rumors as well and asked me if I remembered our talk, of course I asked “Which one”?  He said the one about being humble.  I kinda broke down and said yes sir.  He told me, ” Andrew the only way to be successful in bass fishing is to be humble, I’ve told you this once I don’t want to have to tell you again”.  I then learned the hard way to be humbled.  He told me to not hang my head but to learn from this while im still young.  I had a second chance, I had my spirits lifted back up in me, all because of Tommy Martin.  Tommy Martin was the reason I started bass fishing and the reason I am still in it today.  I owe him more than words can say.  He is one of my mentors, fellow fisherman, and by far one of my very best friends.  Thank you Tommy Martin!

So if anyone reading this takes anything from what I have said, take it from me don’t have to learn the hard way to get humbled. Listen when someone says listen and talk when you really need to talk, there is no reason to boast, just go win tournaments and keep your mouths shut, let your fishing talk for you!!!