Yusuke Miyazaki has family, friends and fans on two continents who are pumped about his upcoming appearance in the Bassmaster Classic, which will be the first for the Japan native after 12 years as a full-time B.A.S.S. pro.
"Yes, everybody's very excited," he said. "It's a big thrill for all of us."
He displayed a level of consistency on the Bassmaster Elite Series this year that had eluded him in the past, finishing among the Top 50 in six of the eight events and making his first Sunday appearance (Top 12) since achieving that feat twice in 2007. He ended up 21st in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race, which was a 62-place improvement over the previous campaign.
He said his on-water decision-making was solid in 2011, but his execution was lacking. He attributed part of that to the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated his home country just as the season was getting under way, which hindered his ability to focus.
"I started getting the key bites in the tournaments, but I wasn't catching them last year. My fishing was right, but I couldn't concentrate. I knew my family was okay, but a lot of people were missing and I felt like I needed to get back over there. I was always thinking about it.
"I found the fish again this year, and I was more fortunate to put those 5- or 6-pound kickers in the livewell. I was able to pay more attention to everything and I focused on controlling everything that I could."
Like most of the field, he'll go to Grand Lake in February with just one objective in mind.
"In the Classic, not too many people care about 2nd place. Everybody tries to win – that's everybody's goal."