It’s nothing unusual for an angler to refer to a B.A.S.S. victory as a “dream come true.”
But when Daisuke Aoki said it after winning last week’s Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open on Douglas Lake, he wasn’t just spouting clichés.
He meant it.
The 39-year-old pro from Yamanashi, Japan, crossed an ocean and battled cultural and language barriers most of us couldn’t imagine just for a chance to fish the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. Now with his dream of winning a major event accomplished, he hopes to move on to even bigger and better things when he fishes the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk — an honor he earned with his Opens victory.
Bassmaster photographer Seigo Saito, who is also of Japanese descent, caught up with Aoki for a quick Q&A after his monumental achievement.
You had some great accomplishments in Japan, winning the 2015 Japan Bass Top 50 Angler of the Year and the 2015 Basser Allstar Classic title. How does this Opens victory compare to those wins?
This was my happiest moment in my whole fishing carrier.
Along with a big trophy and a nice paycheck, you received a berth into the 2022 Bassmaster Classic for winning the Open. How do you think you’ll feel that first morning of the Classic when you’re blasting off in front of all of those fans?
I will probably be thanking my fans and families as I'm floating on the water. Then I will be thinking about my whole fishing life I've had.
Obviously, you want to win the Classic. But what other goals do you have in professional bass fishing?
Now my goal is to get qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series, fishing against the best of the best.
How does bass fishing in the United States compare to what you were used to in Japan?
Size of the lakes are different. Most of American lakes are way bigger than Japanese lakes. Also baitfish are different from each other.
What would you consider your strengths? Do you prefer power fishing or finesse? Deep or shallow?
Finesse fishing in speedy style.
What has been the strangest thing about American culture? Is it the food? The clothing? Or something else?
Nothing much, but I was surprised that American people are tougher in colder situations. I would want to wear lots of clothes, but American people are not wearing many layers.
Other Japanese anglers have relocated to the United States in the past to continue their careers in pro fishing. Is that something you plan to do, or will you still split time between Japan and the U.S?
If that is a necessary to win the tournaments, I might consider. But I have family and business I’m running in Japan, so I just cannot make that decision easy.
What was the first thing you bought with your Opens winnings?
What’s the first thing you would buy if you won that $300,000 Classic prize?
Money is not that important. I want that “The Bassmaster Classic Winner” title under my belt. That honor you cannot buy with any money. You need to be the best angler to get that done.