International angler exchange - Major League Fishing

International angler exchange

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Four Japanese exchange fishermen waved to the crowd as they soaked in a warm ovation at FLW Tour event on Lake Martin. The anglers participated in an FLW tournament for the first time. From left to right are: Noriaki Narita, Takashi Koyama, Mitsuhiro Handa and Seiji Kato. Kato finished in third place in the Co-Angler Division, winning a $4,000 check. Photo by Yasutaka Ogasawara. Anglers: Takashi Koyama, Mitsuhiro Handa, Seiji Kato, Noriaki Narita.
April 30, 2001 • Rob Newell • Archives

Recently, Operation Bass arranged a foreign exchange program of sorts. Japanese bass anglers were invited to compete in a Wal-Mart FLW Tour event as co-anglers, and later this fall, American pro anglers David Walker and Scott Martin will go to Japan to compete on behalf of Team Timex and Randy Blaukat and Wes Thomas will participate as members of Fuji’s team.

Four of Japan’s best bass anglers, Seiji Kato, Nariaki Narita, Takashi Koyama and Mitsuhiro Handa came from Japan to compete in the FLW tournament at Lake Martin in March. It did not take long for all four anglers to prove that they have the skills to compete on American waters.

On the first day of competition, Nariaki Narita brought in five bass that weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces to take eighth place in the Co-Angler Division. On the second day of competition, Kato, a famous Japanese lure designer, bumped his fellow countryman Narita out of the top 10 and took over seventh place.

Being in seventh after the opening round meant that Kato was paired with Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., for the final day of co-angler competition. Clunn is as much of a legend in Japan as he is in America. “I wanted Kato to do well,” Clunn said after spending the day with him. “I have always admired Japanese culture. They are a very disciplined people and a very spiritual people, as well. And I think we as Americans underestimate their dedication to this sport.”

Kato eventually ended up third in his first American tournament. Narita finished 25th, Handa finished 47th and Koyama finished 100th.

The anglers reported catching their bass on drop shot rigs, hula grubs, split shot rigs, and crankbaits. They took home a combined total of $5,300 for their finishes. That’s 671,881 yen!