Opens profile: Aoki living a dream

Daisuke Aoki was ranked as the No. 1 professional bass angler in Japan in 2017.

Add Daisuke Aoki’s name to the long list of Japanese bass pros who have found success fishing Bassmaster tournaments in the United States. He has competed in 15 Bassmaster Opens since 2019 and has made the money in seven of those events.

By winning the Bassmaster Southern Open at Douglas Lake, Tennessee, in mid-April of 2021, he achieved his life-long dream of qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic. The accomplishment brought tears to his eyes when he accepted the winner’s trophy on stage.

Winning is nothing new for Aoki. He was ranked as the No. 1 professional bass angler in Japan in 2017. He has won Angler of the Year titles three times in his home country, which he regards as his greatest accomplishment there.

Although the waters Aoki has fished in the U.S. are larger than those in Japan, he has proven his ability to break down large lakes and find the bass. Since the baitfish here are different than those in Japan, he has had to adjust his lure choices to match the forage.

The 38-year-old angler lives in Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi, Japan, with his wife Kyoko Aoki and their two boys, Yuudai, 10, and Koudai, 8.

Besides fishing professionally in Japan and in the U.S., Aoki is the founder, CEO and managing director of DSTYLE, a premier Japanese finesse fishing tackle company. As with Japanese baits in general, DSTYLE baits feature exquisite detail.

A wacky-rigged, weightless DSTYLE finesse worm is one of the baits Aoki used to clinch victory at Douglas Lake. Finesse fishing is his favorite way to catch bass in Japan and in the U.S., which is true of many Japanese pros.

He often fishes finesse baits “speedy style” as he did at Douglas. He caught many bedding bass there by twitching a wacky-rigged Senko quickly across the bottom.

Aoki’s parents did not fish, but he was fortunate to befriend someonewho introduced him to bass fishing when he was 12. It was love at first bite. Four years later Aoki fished his first bass tournament at Lake Ashino. He doesn’t remember where he finished in that event, but it stoked his burning desire to fish professionally.

At age 19 he began to fish bass tournaments earnestly from a 12-foot aluminum boat. He soon stepped up to a Skeeter bass boat and has been fishing from a Skeeter ever since.

Aoki speaks little English and said that many people helped him get to the U.S. and learn how to drive to Bassmaster Open tournaments here. He travels alone and stays in motels, which is no small feat given the language barrier. That Aoki and other Japanese anglers who struggle with English are able to stay motivated and focused on fishing in America is remarkable.

When not competing in a tournament, Aoki stays at the Hyabusa office in Denton, Texas, which is a short drive to Lake Ray Roberts where the 2021 Bassmaster Classic took place.

Aoki is stoked about fishing the 2022 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell, but his cup is only half full.

“Now it’s time to get promoted to the Elite Series,” he said.