Bassin’ Across the Pond

Basser Magazine 1986 vol 5 no 2.

Most people are aware of Japan’s obsession with bass fishing and lure design. Japanese anglers such as Takahiro Omori, Norio Tanabe, Shin Fukae and Morizu Shimizu have come over and made an impact in the U.S. bass ranks and companies like Lucky Craft, Mega Bass and Yo-Zuri have changed the way anglers in the U.S. look at lures.

The interesting thing is very few Americans outside the west knew bass fishing even existed in Japan until the 1998 timeframe, when Seiji Kato fished the Bassmaster Western Invitational at Elephant Butte, NM and gave the winning bait – a Pointer-78 – to his second-day partner Dennis Hoy (see Scorecard Snapshot – Lure of the Rising Sun).

Well, here’s a little glimpse of how long bassin’ has been popular in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The picture is the cover of Japan’s most revered magazine – Basser. The issue date is 1986 vol. 5 no. 2. In this issue Basser sent over writers to cover the 1986 Bass Master Classic and the 1986 U.S. Open, then run by US Bass. Not only did they send writers, though, they sent anglers to fish in the Open, held on Lake Mead.

The cover features Zell Rowland and Ray Scott at the Classic along with some of the contents presented inside.

The fact that the magazine is volume 5 lets the reader know that the magazine had been in print for four years prior to 1986. In other words, Basser started in 1982. Though that may not be as long as Bass Master Magazine had been in print, it leads one to ponder that bass fishing had been popular enough prior to that in order to dedicate an entire magazine to the sport.

In the coming weeks we are going to start posting some snippets from this magazine and we feel confident you’ll be amazed how advanced Japan was at this time during the mid-80s.

I would like to thank Harold Sharp for sending this magazine to us.

  • rich

    I have a Japanese friend who started corresponding with me around 1980. He came to the US for a couple weeks to fish with me and with Tom Seward in 1984. He and all his fishing friends were avid readers of Fishing Facts, In-Fisherman and BassMaster, and didn’t think highly of their homegrown publication.
    We still correspond a time or two a year.

    • Rich, what didn’t they like about their magazines? Do your friends still feel the same way? The Japanese folks that I have talked with (since about 1999) have said nothing but good things about their magazines. I for one wish we had a publication in the US that went to such great depths covering the sport. But, being a single-language speaking person (and not that good at my own language) I have no idea what the content is. I just get them for the pictures. 🙂

      • I get Basser for the pictures, illustrations, and ads too!

  • rich

    Terry, you’ve got to remember that at the time, there were no Japanese anglers fishing the US circuits, and the Japanese bass fishing community was in its infancy. They were trying to emulate what was going on in the US. They didn’t yet have the foundation for the kind of fishing innovation that’s come out of their country in the past 18 to 20 years. They preferred the US magazines because they got the scoop on new techniques 6 months ahead of what basser and Tackle Box (I think that was the other one) were able to give them.

  • fish_food

    I always end up giving away my Bassmaster and FLW mags after reading them (or putting them in the recycle bin if nobody wants ’em) but have saved all my copies of Basser over the years. Rod & Reel is another great Japanese fishing mag.

  • Dodge

    Like Michael Corleone once said, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in”, your Bass Fishing Archives really pulled me back in, Terry. I’ve been out of the scene since 2006; my whole good old memories and knowledge of bass fishing was about to fade away instead of my son growing up. He becomes 7 this year.

    Before I forget things, I gotta write this.
    Japan’s largest bass fishing association is called JB, but it was called JBTA, organized in ’85. Spreading its name to the fishing fans in Japan, they invited Roland Martin for a tournament as a guest on the same year. Even though anglers only had aluminum boats with small engines at that time, one angler thought it’d be embarrassing to Martin to ride on such a tiny thing, then he purchased a bass boat and let Martin to ride. I tell you what. The boat happened to be the very first bass boat owned in Japan.

    How did he do on the tournament? He beat the heck out of Japanese anglers, came in 2nd place with the tactics they would never thought to win.
    On Lake Kawaguchi, the average size of bass was one pounder; therefore, they tended to use finesse techniques as such Charlie Brewer’s Slider worms with Slider heads (1/16oz). Nevertheless, Martin used big willow leaf blade type spinnerbait to win.

    The most important thing, the winning bait was BlueFox’s big willow spinnerbait, something called “Okeechobee Special”.

    That day, I was 10 and decided to bass fish.
    (sorry about my English. I haven’t used the language for a long time).