Knee injury turned prep football player into aspiring bass pro

Crowley’s Bryant “Brother” Martin hooked and boated this 9.49-pounder while fishing at Caney Lake.

When a knee injury signaled the end of nights of catching passes for Notre Dame High School’s football team, Bryant “Brother” Martin of Crowley continued catching bass.

Martin, a wide receiver for the Pioneers, leapt high and twisted his body to catch a pass, got tangled up with the defender and came down very wrong. His wrecked knee was repaired by extensive surgery.

Martin, who also played two seasons of high-school baseball, shed the crutches many months later to fish the first day of the Bassmaster National High School Championship in 2018 on Kentucky Lake, the first of his three national tournament appearances at the huge lake on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

“Oh, yeah. Perfect. The day I got off crutches was the first day of nationals at Kentucky Lake,” Martin said.

He and the knee have done just fine, thank you, standing on the front deck of his Bass Cat. He was named to the Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation All-State Team in 2019 and 2020 and has been a two-time nominee for All-American.

“It’s good to go now,” said Martin, 20, who is pumped up for his sophomore season at LSU-Shreveport after fishing for East Texas Baptist University as a freshman.

Father’s influence

Bryant “Brother” Martin of Crowley showed his bass-catching skills early, including hooking up with this nice bass at Toledo Bend.

Martin has fished with his father, Brian, “all over” — mostly at Toledo Bend but also at Falcon Lake,  Sam Rayburn and Lake Somerville, all in Texas; the Atchafalaya Basin, Henderson Lake, Caney Lake, the Mermentau River, Bayou Segnette, Indian Creek and Miller’s Lake, all in Louisiana; Kentucky Lake; Priest River in Idaho and Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.

Priest River? Idaho? That’s where he fished in freezing rain in the Big Bass Zone Junior Championship twice as the back-to-back BBZJC Louisiana state champion in 2019 and 2020.

His best showing last season was a first-place finish in April in the Sabine Bass Busters Open at Toledo Bend. His 9.42-pound “hawg” was the biggest bass.

Other bass fishing highlights? There are plenty. As a high-school freshman in September 2016, Martin won the St. John the Baptist Open’s high-school division on the Mermentau River. As a senior, Martin and Grant Schexnailder, who attends South Louisiana Community College, earned 2020 Anglers of the Year title in the Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation North Division.

Guide service experience

If it seems Martin is always in a boat, fishing, well, he is most of the time.

The Martins have a camp at Toledo Bend, which serves as a base of operations for the family’s Martin’s Guide Service. Martin and his father guide for crappie and white bass.

Brian Martin (left) taught his son, Bryant, bass tactics that produce, like they did on this trip together at Toledo Bend. The Martins have a camp on the border lake and also co-own Martin’s Guide Service.

“It’s fun. I don’t know how it’s helping my bass fishing, but it’s helping my bass-fishing habits,” he said.

As a brief bio on the guide service’s website reads, “He has been in the boat ever since he could hold a rod and reel.” As a boy, he took to competitive fishing like a crawfish to beef melt. He yearned to pits his bass fishing skills against those of others.

“I love fishing tournaments, and I wanted to fish high-school tournaments like everybody else,” Martin said.

His father, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, has been a guiding force, with an emphasis on bass fishing. Brian Martin was the boat’s captain for Martin and Schexnailder all four years on Notre Dame’s fishing team. His on-the-water lessons about bass fishing and how to handle any adversity or any success were well-received, appreciated and, obviously, beneficial.

“He’d teach us not to get too down on yourself if a tournament wasn’t going too good and to fish as long as we can. Every minute counts,” said Bryant Martin, whose goal in college is “to win a tournament and get a ‘Happy Gilmore’ check. Pretty much win a big college event.”

Favorite lures

Odds are, it’ll be with one of his favorite artificial lures: a ½-ounce Z-Man’s Hite’s Hot Craw Jackhammer Chatterbait, or a flippin’ Spot Remover.

His post-college future is up in the air. Major League Fishing? B.A.S.S. Which way will he go?

“I don’t really know. To be honest with you, wherever the road takes me. I would like to fish” as a pro bass angler, he said.

About Don Shoopman 567 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.