Sweepstakes winner learns winning frog tactics from 2012 Classic Champ

Chris Lane and John Holtman
Cara D. Clark
John Holtman (right) won the chance to fish with 2012 Bassmaster Classic champ Chris Lane via a sweepstakes on Bassmaster.com.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a blustery day on Lake Guntersville last Friday, John Holtman is confident in his ability to fish a floating frog for bass. That’s because Holtman, who won a Bassmaster.com sweepstakes contest, spent the day fishing with a master of the technique, 2012 Bassmaster Classic champ Chris Lane, as part of the prize package.

“When I talked to Chris, I told him I wanted to go out and frog fish — not find schooling fish,” Holtman said. “There was no chance I’d want to chase schooling fish when I was with the best frog man in the world.”

Holtman, a competitor on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers, wanted to add a new skill to his tournament fishing. Before the sun ascended above the tree line on the shores of Guntersville, Lane pulled up to the first grass mat on his home lake, where he observed Holtman’s technique and began offering tips.

“He told me I was fishing too fast and to slow it down,” Holtman said. “He told me to let it sit, sometimes for a 10 count. If they swipe at it, and you don’t hook up, he said they’ll usually set back up for an ambush, and you can throw it again. I was spooking the fish by moving too fast.”

Holtman caught the first fish of the day, a 4-pounder in a milfoil mat, by following that advice. Holtman was fishing a black-and-red frog when the bass struck just off the bank in about 4 feet of water.

“I caught that first fish because I slowed it down,” Holtman said. “I’ve been missing a lot of fish by moving too quickly.”

The first bass, fat from a steady diet of shad and bluegill, was the biggest of the day’s catch. As they moved to other spots on the lake, Holtman caught another largemouth on a frog, and Lane caught three bass — one on a frog and two by “punching” lures through grass mats.