Ito's smallmouth education continues

A little over a year ago, Japanese pro Taku Ito had never fished for smallmouth bass.

But he's proven to be a quick study.

In three smallmouth events last year — Lake Champlain, St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Clair — he finished sixth, 10th and 10th. Then Thursday on Day 1 of this year's event at Lake Champlain, he caught five smallmouth that weighed 20 pounds, 7 ounces.

He said these were a little tougher than some he's caught in the past — but it didn't show.

"Fish are eating a shad — I don't know what kind of shad," Ito said. "When I fight, I see them spitting up baitfish.

"I like crawdad eater smallmouth. But baitfish eater is very different for me..."

Different or not, he seemed to figure it out just fine — and we should pity his competition once Ito becomes an "experienced" smallmouth angler.

There may be no stopping him.