Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kota Kiriyama passed along some photos and details from the 5th annual Kota's American Dream tournament, which was held this year at Lake Kitaura in Japan. Winners Naohito Hiramoto and Takeshi Hamanaka are pictured here holding their plaque – their weight was 3,150 grams (just a little shy of 7 pounds).
The tournament featured just 23 participants during its inaugural edition in 2008, but this year it drew 165 entries. The winners earn a berth in the annual Bass Cat Owners Invitational.
Lake Kitaura is located in the portion of the country that was most heavily damaged by the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011.
"I can still see the hope that the people are working hard to climb the long stairs again," Kiriyama said. "I was glad to see people's smiles and I would like to thank all the people who helped me get this tournament together, especially Rick Pierce from Bass Cat. Also, I would like to thank Power-Pole, Gamma line, Owner Hooks, FM factory, Jackall Lures, Okada Corporation, Navionics, Yamaha outboards, DNA sunglasses and Shimano for their continuous support and understanding what I do.
"There are many people in Japan whose dream is to visit the U.S. and fish one day, but for many reasons they cannot make it, so I'd like to keep offering this event for as long as I can. The competition gets harder and harder, but more people keep joining."
More photos and video are available in the Japan section at www.KotaAmericanDream.com.