Winner of Mark Zona Sweepstakes 'Blown Away' by Experience

News & Tips: Winner of Mark Zona Sweepstakes 'Blown Away' by Experience...
Bruce Kastner with a trophy smallmouth bass he caught while fishing with Mark Zona on Elk Lake in Michigan.

It was a trip of a lifetime for Bruce Kastner and his wife Sarah. As winners of the 2012 Bass Pro Shops "Awesome Fishing With Mark Zona" sweepstakes, the Simpsonville, S.C., couple joined "Z" for a two-day fishing trip in Traverse City, Michigan that had them reeling in scores of smallmouth bass.

Mark Zona is a bass expert and host of "Zona's Awesome Fishing Show" airing every Friday night at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on the Outdoor Channel.  The trip put Bruce and Sarah on Mark's boat, allowing them to fish with top-notch equipment, learn a few knots and talk to Mark about his fishing experiences. And catch a lot of fish!

"I was blown away by my experience," Bruce said in an email after his trip. "... I didn't really know what to expect as far as how the trip would go, but it blew my expectations right through the roof."

On the first day, Bruce and Mark set off on Elk Lake on a cold, wet and windy day. But Mark was able to use his knowledge and experience to help make it a great one for Bruce; they caught "close to 40" smallmouth, including two trophies, which Mark called "Gorilla Kongs," Bruce said. "To call our trip a success is a BIG understatement."

But it was day two where Mark really made an impression on the couple. Sarah joined her husband the next day and the three set out once again for the lake. Bruce recalled how "Z" made it a priority to make Sarah comfortable and to help her learn some fishing techniques.

Mark Zona

"He took time out to show her how to use a spinning rod (which the mad man caught a fish on his demonstration cast)," Bruce wrote. "He consistently was positioning the boat in the wind so that she and I could cast easily and to where the fish were.

"She ended up catching more fish than the both of us on that second day, and she will remember that experience forever," he continued. "It meant so much that he was so into helping her!"

Even after the trip, Mark and Bruce have continued to remain in touch, with Mark sharing some pictures of his most recent catch. "I have nothing but great things to say about Bass Pro and Mark Zona," he said. "... Words cannot express the gratitude I have or even explain the memories and experiences I will remember forever."

The "Awesome Fishing With Mark Zona" sweepstakes was held Feb. 24 - March 11, 2012, in the U.S. and March 9-25, 2012, in Canada. Entries were submitted at 54 Bass Pro Shops store locations and online.

Bruce SarahKostner
Bruce and Sarah Kastner, winners of the 2012 Bass Pro Shops “Awesome Fishing With Mark Zona” sweepstakes", show off their catch while fishing with "Z" in Michigan.