One down, one to go

What a thrill it was to win the 2020 Bassmaster Central Open at Sam Rayburn. I thought I might not do it after the second day, but I had just enough to bring the trophy home. 

I have always wanted to fish the Bassmaster Classic and to fish with the Bassmaster Elite Series. Now I’m going to the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic in March on Lake Ray Roberts. I know I have to fish the final two Central Opens to qualify. I will do that. I couldn’t be more excited. This has been a tough road for me, but I’m halfway to my goals. 

I’ve fished all of the Central Opens for fives years now. I had a horrible first tournament this year, so making the Elites for next year is going to be tough. I don’t know if it can even be done, but I’m going to try my hardest. If I don’t make it this year, I’ll come back next year and the year after that. I’ll keep fishing them until I qualify, however long that takes. I will have a career at that level. 

There is tournament fishing in Japan, but it isn’t like the United States. The waters are a lot more crowded, and there isn’t as much opportunity to earn a living and advance a career. I’m not complaining. I love my home. It’s just that if you want to fish at the top with the best you have to come over to the United States and fish the big professional circuits like B.A.S.S.

Getting there is a lot of work and expense though. In a normal year I spend maybe $40,000 flying back and forth from Japan. I do have some good sponsors and they help me a lot, but it still takes a lot of our family money. This win will really help us with that.  

This year might be different. I don’t know how much I’ll spend. With COVID-19, I have to quarantine in Japan in a hotel room for two weeks a soon as the plane lands so I’m going to stay here in Texas until the Central Opens are over. I don’t want to do that, but I don’t really have a choice.  

When I come back here next year for the Classic, I'll be with my wife and my kids. That’ll be great. I miss them when I’m not home. It’ll be good for them, too. They’ll be here to see me compete in the Classic. The whole family will be together. We can’t wait.  

The last thing I want to say is thanks to my friend Calvin Balch. He helps me with a lot of things. My English isn’t very good. I have trouble understanding things and expressing myself. He helps me — with this and a lot of other things. He’s my friend. I’m lucky to have him. 

And thank you all for wanting to hear from me. That means a lot to me.