John Holtman entered the sweepstakes, “Fish with 2012 Bassmaster Classic Champion Chris Lane,” only once. That was all it took, Holtman learned when he answered his phone last week and heard the news straight from the world’s top bass fisherman. The resident of Rydal, Ga., was selected from a large pool of hopefuls — 55,000 entries were logged for the contest.

“John was really happy, and we both can’t wait to go,” Lane said. “The exciting part of the great response the contest generated is what it says about the growing popularity of bass fishing as a sport and the efforts B.A.S.S. and its anglers have made to grow it.”

Fishing Guntersville with the reigning Classic champion comes with its advantages, and Lane will focus on frog fishing and flipping on what he describes as “hands down, the best lake fishing in the fall.”

“Winning this feels like one in a million to me,” said Holtman, director of operations for an heating and air conditioning company. “I only entered one time. I was shocked when Chris called. I’m excited about fishing with him. He’s a great guy.”

With Holtman, Lane won’t be fishing with a newbie. Holtman, a veteran of the Bassmaster Weekend Series with the dream of becoming an Elite Series angler, might have a few pointers for Lane. After all, Guntersville, a 70,000-acre impoundment in north Alabama, is one of contest winner’s favorite fisheries, and it’s one he’s fished often.

Holtman looks forward to Lane demonstrating the best frog fishing techniques on the bass-catching expedition. He’s been fishing tournaments since he was 25 and says it’s the competitive nature of the events that has him hooked.

Lake Guntersville was named the No. 3 bass lake in the nation by Bassmaster Magazine after an extensive survey of experts to compile the list of the country’s 100 Best Bass Lakes in 2012. Lake Falcon in Texas, Holtman’s other favorite fishery, took the top spot in that same competition.

In addition to the trip with Lane, Holtman won an 8-foot Power-Pole Sportsman; $200 in gear from Pure Fishing; $200 in gear from Luck “E” Strike; $200 in gear from Snag Proof; $250 in cash; and a two-night hotel stay.

For now, Lane is focused on the final event in the Bassmaster Elite Series for 2012, the Ramada Championship on Oneida Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., Aug. 23-26.  If he is selected as a fan favorite to compete in the Toyota Trucks All-Star Championship, that will extend his season into September. In between, he’s excited about fall fishing on Lake Guntersville.

Regarding preparation for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, Lane said: “When this season is over, I’ll get rested and regroup. Then I’ll start feeling that hunger that burns inside all of us to get back out there and try to win another one.”

Image courtesy John Holtman

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