By Pete Robbins

For many years, eager Japanese bass anglers made the pilgrimage to fabled US lakes like Fork and Castaic to chase the monster largemouths that weren’t believed to exist in their native land.

But now that Japan, and in particular Lake Biwa, has been established as a big fish factory, there’s a reverse migration of sorts going on – eager American lunker hunters are either plotting ways to get to Biwa or else they’re taking lessons from the Japanese lunker hunters’ techniques.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kota Kiriyama, a native of Japan who now lives in Alabama, is keeping up with the trend. For several years he’s held a tournament called “Kota’s American Dream” in which the winners of a tournament in Japan would qualify for an all-expenses paid trip to fish the BassCat Owners Invitational in Arkansas.

Now he’s turned the tables.

This October 23 and 24, Kiriyama and his sponsors will hold the American Dream tournament in the United States for the first time. The event will be held out of Ingalls Harbor (Decatur, Ala.) on Lake Wheeler, a renowned TVA impoundment. The winners will get an all-expenses paid trip to fish Lake Biwa.

In organizing this event, Kiriyama is proudly representing both his native country and his adoptive home. “I want to make Decatur an international city and help people understand other cultures,” he told Decatur Daily. He expects at least 100 teams to compete in the event. Clearly local politicians are excited about the revenue and notoriety that this tournament will bring to their area. Representative Parker Griffith of Huntsville and State Senator Arthur Orr attended his press conference last week.