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.
Lane said Holtman has the right mindset for catching tournament-winning fish.
“John was all about getting four or five bites — all about catching big fish, tournament-style fishing,” Lane said. “He didn’t want to throw a spinnerbait. He wanted to flip and use the frog and go out and catch 6-pounders. I think the next grass tournament he fishes, he’s going to do pretty well.”
As the day advanced, the wind picked up even more — reaching 25 mile an hour gusts — and making Power–Pole anchors a necessity.
“I’d never used Power-Poles, but we wouldn’t have been able to fish at all without them,” Holtman said. “I see how much they can help. Some of the areas we were fishing were big grassy mats, and the Power-Poles anchored the boat so we could fish without using the trolling motor. I can’t wait to put the Power-Poles on my boat. I think they’re going to make a difference in my fishing.”
Along with the fishing trip with Lane on the champ’s home waters, Holtman won an 8-foot Power-Pole Sportsman; $200 each in fishing gear from Snag Proof, Berkley and Luck “E” Strike; a two-night hotel stay; and $800 in cash.
“I want to thank Bassmaster for doing all of this — for setting me up with Chris and for the prizes from the sponsors. I’m so appreciative of that,” Holtman said. “It was a great experience, and I had a great time. Chris is such a great, humble guy and represents Bassmaster well. I really enjoyed fishing with him.”
Lane encouraged Holtman, a Rydal, Ga., resident, to fish in Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series competitions.
“John is going to win some tournaments down the road — there’s no doubt in my mind,” Lane said. “He was really excited about flipping and about throwing a frog. He’s a great guy to go fishing with. He had some big blow ups on frogs — even in that wind. He got a lot more bites than I did.”
See more photos from Holtman's day on Lake Guntersville with Chris Lane.