With Takahiro Omori winning the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge, the question should be asked: Does Omori own Elite events held in the state of Alabama?
The Japanese angler who now lives in Emory, Texas, has won the last two Elite Series tournaments in Alabama. His previous win was in 2016 at Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala. Omori won that one by 4 pounds, 3 ounces over Dave Lefebre. At Lake Martin he topped second place Roy Hawk by 7 pounds. Martin is his seventh Bassmaster win, but only his second Elite victory.
Oh and by the way, Omori won a 2001 FLW Tour tournament on Lake Martin.
Don't be surprised if you hear Omori saying Roll Tide or War Eagle (cheers for the University of Alabama and Auburn University). "I love Alabama so much now," he said from the Bassmaster stage. "I might have to move to Alabama," he said smiling broadly.
What is it about Alabama that works so well for Omori? Is it barbecue and sweet tea? The fisheries he's won on here are quite different. Wheeler Lake is a huge Tennessee River impoundment, which typically has current. It has largemouth and smallmouth bass. Lake Martin is an impoundment of the much smaller Tallapoosa River which typically has less current. It has largemouth and spotted bass.
At Wheeler he won fishing topwater baits on a big flat. At Martin he won going up into the river and throwing squarebill crankbaits. Perhaps the similarity in the two tournaments is that both were held at times when the state had an influx of rain. At the time both fisheries had timber and other debris floating in the water.
"That win here in 2001 paid for my house," he said. "This time I might retire," said the 47 year old, clearly kidding. After all, an Elite Series win does come with a $100,000 check.
But Omori doesn't win every tournament he fishes in Alabama. At the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville he finished 48. And at the 2015 Guntersville Elite he finished 68.
Here are the other Bassmaster events where Omori grabbed the championship trophy.
-1996 Missouri Central Invitational, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
-2001 Texas Central Invitational, Sam Rayburn, Texas
-2004 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, Lake Wylie, North Carolina
-2005 Tour #1 (similar to an Open), Kissimmee Chain, Florida
-2005 Central Open, Lake Norfork, Arkansas