Three of the top five anglers after Day 1 are from Japan, which likely is a first in B.A.S.S. competition. Is it coincidental? The solid answer is not at all.
Shin Fukae, Ken Iyobe and Seiji Kato all brought impressive credentials from Japan to the U.S., where the three have become even more successful.
Fukae, the current leader, has over $1 million in earnings on the FLW Tour, and won its angler of the year title in 2004, his rookie season. Fukae fished the 2015 Bassmaster Classic after winning the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open held on Lake Champlain, not surprisingly his favorite lake.
Iyobi, in third place, is a lure designer by trade and spent two seasons on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour, from 2015-16. This season, Iyobi is fishing all three Open divisions with the goal of requalifyig for the Elite Series.
Kato, in fifth place, is a legendary lure designer whose credits include the Daiwa TD Minnow, Lucky Craft Sammy and dozens of other hot baits. His latest endeavor is Jackall Lures, which he founded. Kato also has a long history of competition with B.A.S.S. At the 2007 Elite Series event held on Lake Amistad, he won what back then was the co-angler title. Kato has fished the Open tour continuously since 2015.
Not to be left out is Carl Jocumsen, the Australian who reached his dream of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2015. He competed for two seasons and now fishes the FLW Tour, and the Northern Opens.