Editor's note: B.A.S.S. has designated 2019 as the Year of the Fan. To celebrate, B.A.S.S. is profiling some of the sport's biggest supporters.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Personality goes a long way for B.A.S.S. super fan John Holtz, in himself and the pro anglers he follows. Holtz is a gregarious sixth-grade social studies teacher who competes in local circuits and enjoys spreading his love of bass fishing.
Getting the fishing bug early in life, Holtz jumped into tournament fishing recently, attempting to incorporate the tips and tactics of his favorite Elites. He said he enjoys most things Bassmaster, especially how pros interact with fans, but he’s all about learning how to improve his game.
“I kind of really like getting into the pro tips,” he said. “Once you like the personality, then you want to know what they’re doing. I think the thing of it is, how many sports can you actually talk to people who are higher up in the echelon, and they talk back?”
Growing up in Olathe, Kan., Holtz got the bass bug early by fishing the family pond. Catching his first fish at 3 years old began his fascination — he has a photo of himself and his dad holding up the fish. With no cable TV, his fever grew quickly.
“We’d go to the public library, and I’d always hit up Jimmy Houston Volumes 1 and 2,” he said. “I’d get out the Roland Martin stuff, and I’d go out to the pond. I just loved it. I loved it because a lot of kids in my class didn’t have a clue. There I was, when the teacher would ask something about stream biology, I knew it. I lived it.”
His dad was a river fishermen in central Missouri and they often went out for crappie, but bass filled his dreams. An uncle, Don Bundell Jr., hooked him up with Bassmaster Magazine to fuel that fire, and he’s since been a devout member of B.A.S.S.
Holtz fished and fished, and he vividly remembers his first foray into tournament fishing. In sixth grade, a cousin took him to a Thursday night jackpot event where he caught his first derby fish.
“This is how weird I am — it was a chrome and blue Cotton Cordell rattletrap,” he said. “I can remember the bass came across the log to hit it. It was 18 1/2 inches. I was able to weigh it in.”