MORIZO GOES INTERNATIONAL IN OKLAHOMA
Story and photos by Matt Pangrac
Moore, OK - Following the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Lake Michigan at the end of June, Japan’s Morizo Shimizu made the drive to Oklahoma in early July to film a show for his television series “Burning Heart,” which airs only in Japan on cable television.
For the past four years, Shimizu has hosted the Burning Heart program which consists of six shows each season. Prior to that, he was featured in a television series that aired in Japan called “Morizo Kingdom” for six seasons.
Filming a bass fishing show in Oklahoma over the 4th of July weekend is a challenging proposition, but the location offered Shimizu the most convenient chance to capture some on-the-water footage before putting his truck and boat in storage in Springfield, Missouri and heading to ICAST in Orlando, Florida. Following ICAST, Morizo flew back to Japan where he will stay until returning to the United States in late August for the final Elite Series tournament of the 2012 season on New York’s Oneida Lake.
Shimizu filmed two full days (July 5th and 6th) on two small public lakes in northeast Oklahoma with Hiromi Kitada and Daisuke Ujie, who flew in from Japan to shoot the episode which will air in Japan on July 27th. The BASS ZONE was invited to document the filming of the show and also serve as a camera boat.
Throughout the filming, Shimizu exclusively used products from his MoDo line of fishing tackle (which stands for Morizo Design) for Ever Green International, a successful Japanese fishing company that just recently announced plans to begin distributing selected products in the United States.
Each day, Shimizu filmed under sunny skies and temperatures that topped out at 104 degrees. The first day was slow. He had just three bites, but they were the right ones. After starting the first day fishing for three hours without a bite, Shimizu caught his first bass – a 10.70 pound giant. Shortly after, he lost another one that he described as a “giant,” and ended the day with a largemouth in the six pound range.
On the second day of filming, Shimizu opted to fish the second small lake and boated around 15 largemouth on seven different baits in about two hours of fishing. Around noon, he loaded up and relocated to the lake where he caught the 10 pounder the previous day. After three hours without a bite, he scored a five pounder.
What follows is an interview with Shimizu following the completion of filming:
The BZ: What were first thoughts when you saw where you would be filming?
Shimizu: It looked like a really good bass fishing lake.
The BZ: Talk about catching the 10 pounder.
Shimizu: It was so exciting. I never thought that I would ever catch a 10 pounder while I was filming for a TV show in my life!!
The BZ: How do Japanese bass anglers who have never been to the United States view bass fishing here? Is there a difference between catching bass in Japan and bass in the United States?
Shimizu: Three are lots of fish in Japanese lakes, but I am sure that the U.S. lakes hold more bass. The lakes over here usually fish about the same way as they do in Japan, but there are a few techniques that I only use in Japan.
The BZ: Do you feel any pressure to catch fish when you are filming for a show? Would you rather film a TV show or fish in a tournament?
Shimizu: I feel lots of pressures because I need to produce a show that is fun to watch. It’s challenging to film and show my fishing style within a schedule and just two days.
Neither tournament fishing nor filming a television show is easy. I think that fishing a tournament is more challenging though, because you have to deal with everything by yourself.
The BZ: Talk about the MoDo line of lures that you used during the filming.
Shimizu: I have designed around 10 different styles that include Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, pencil popper, and a popper. They all come in different sizes and it takes about three years to design a new item.
I spend a really long time designing each bait, and it takes so much time because I want the bait to be perfect.
The BZ: In 2011, you made your first Bassmaster Classic. Has anything changed since you reached that goal?
Shimizu: There were many changes, but it’s hard to say what the biggest one was. After I fished in the Classic, I think a lot more Japanese fans realized how valuable and important the Bassmaster Classic is to professional fishing.
The BZ:It has been a difficult year for you in 2012. Why do you think it has been so challenging?
Shimizu: It is easy to answer. I am not good enough at fishing. I still need to improve myself. Also, I have had lots of issues with my health to deal with this year. I think that I have put in the necessary time to establish myself as a champion in the near future. I hope that my fans wait for that moment!
The BZ: What is your goal for the last Elite Series tournament on Oneida Lake in August?
Shimizu: To win and make it into the 2013 Classic.
The BZ: What are your plans for the rest of the year after the Elite Series season is over?
Shimizu: I would love to be voted to the All-Star Week. If not, I will fish the U.S. Open at Lake Mead and that would be the last event for me this year here in the States.
The rest of the year, I plan on researching and developing baits, meeting with sponsors, shooting more shows, and shooting some DVD’s. I have some fishing trips for Japanese magazines lined up because I have been over here in the States most of the year. There are still tons of things to do for me after the season is over. I rarely have days off.”
Note: Special thanks to B.A.S.S. photographer, Seigo Saito, for translating the questions to Morizo Shimizu via e-mail.