But it’s going to take more than an admirable track record and revered reputation for CITGO Bassmaster Classic reigning champion Takahiro Omori to clinch bass fishing’s most prized award again.
“I want to do good in Pittsburgh …. I’m the only guy that has a chance to earn back-to-back Classic wins,” the 35-year-old Texas transplant said.
Omori will battle 46 other top-notch anglers in Pittsburgh, July 29-31, on during the 35th annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
And more is at stake this year than ever before. Because of a one-time scheduling quirk in the Classics, the top 10 finishers in the 2005 Classic earn an invitation to the 2006 world championship event.
While all anglers have the chance take home part of the $700,000 in prize money, Omori could also a claim a chunk of fishing immortality by becoming the second pro to win consecutive Classics. (Rick Clunn first did it in 1976 and 1977.)
Already, Omori has shuffled through a whirlwind year as the reigning Classic champion, balancing his personal life and professional work with an increasing demand for public and media appearances.
“It’s been different from the normal year I’ve had,” Omori said. “I’ve tried to do the same as before I won the Classic, but I’ve been busy. I have more people recognize me on the road.”
Though he started his latest season with poise and near perfection, Omori’s performance dropped off in later tournaments. A disastrous home stretch left him in 33rd place in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
That deterioration has Omori, who has cashed $818,000 in earnings, even more determined to take this year’s Classic.
“Every year I feel like I’m improving and this year I feel like I fished better than last year.”
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 15 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage from July 29-31.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.