Do you consider guys in their mid-50s and mid-60s “old codgers”? I don’t since I’ve reached that plateau, and then some. However, Ruston team bass anglers, Martin Elshout (he’s 63) and Mark Price (a spry 54) are now considered to have attained that status by younger competitors on the team fishing circuit.
Elshout recalled an incident that pegged them in the senior citizen category.
“We are known as ‘old codgers’. We got this title several years ago. Mark was weighing in our fish in a local tournament; we had won a couple of tournaments in a row and had another big bag of fish. I was standing in the crowd as Mark was weighing in and I overheard two younger guys talking to each other. One of them said, ‘Those two old codgers got ‘em again’”, Elshout said, chuckling.
The duo has flown under the radar around their home territory, unless you were competing against them. If you were, you know exactly who these two guys are and just how successful they have been over the past 35 years they have composed the Price/Elshout, or the Mark/Martin team, whichever you prefer.
Earlier this month, the Ruston-based team qualified for the two-day championship match on the Bass Champs circuit with the Red River being tournament waters for the event. At the end of the first of two days, the team was in second place, having rotated their fishing spots from lily pads to log jams where they had found fish during practice.
Plastic frogs, Speed Craws, jigs and Sweet Beavers were the lures that were putting fish in the live well for the pair. During this event, only three fish per day for the team could be weighed in for competition.
“On the first day, I caught all three of the largest fish that we weighed in. On the second day,” Elshout said, “Mark caught the three largest ones to be weighed in.”
When the final weigh-in was completed, Elshout and Price won the Bass Champs season finale with a two-day weight of 18.93 pounds, finishing a mere four ounces ahead of the second place team.
For their efforts, they were awarded a Skeeter FX20 bass boat powered by a 250 Yahama outboard motor and all the trimmings.
“Mark and I have fished team tournaments for 35 years. I’m sure we’ve been fishing partners longer than anyone in team tournaments. A couple of reasons we’ve been successful, I believe, is that first, we fish hard and never give up. Even when we’re not doing well, we stay after it for as you know in fishing, things can change in a hurry,” Elshout explained.
“More than once, we have caught some really nice fish in the last hour of the tournament. We spend a great deal of time on the water not only in tournaments but also just ‘fun’ fishing.
“We are always learning what the fish are going and that carries over to tournament time. I will also say,” he added, “we are both Christians and we both believe that this has something to do with our success as well as getting along with each other all these many years.”
Fishing the grind of tournaments all across the south has to take a toll on not only the body but the pocket book as well. Therefore, having sponsors who believe in you and help defray the costs is a necessity. Ludwig Brothers Marine, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards and Kistler Rods are the sponsors who help Elshout and Price to what they do.
Back to this age thing. How have the years of fishing together changed the duo? Mark Price nailed it down succinctly when he offered, tongue in cheek, “We used to fight over who gets the front of the boat. Now we fight over who gets to sit in back.”