Bob Izumi is a Canadian fishing icon, and a true champion of recreational fishing. His fishing empire has made an indelible mark on the Canadian outdoors industry. In the early 1980s, Izumi became a household name with his television series, Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing Show. He built on this success with a syndicated radio show and popular print magazine. He is also a Canada’s first full-time professional fisherman, and continues to compete and win championships throughout North America. Underscoring all of Bob’s successes is his cheerful personality and passion for the sport — one which he continues to support, promote, and participate in with unyielding enthusiasm.
Over the next few months we will be chatting with Canadian anglers who contribute to the overall success of sportfishing as a heritage activity. We’re pleased to have Bob kick off this ongoing series.
Who introduced you to fishing? Can you describe any fond memories you may have of that experience?
My father, Joe Izumi, used to take myself, my brother, two sisters and the neighbourhood kids to Rondeau Bay. We didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t have a boat and he raised us as a single parent. To forget his worries he’d take us fishing. At one time he had as many as nine of us crammed in a Volkswagen beetle to fish off the bank
Do you remember the first fish you caught and where it was?
I definitely don’t remember my first fish but we used to catch lots of panfish off the shore. We definitely had a good teacher! My dad used to say “You can’t catch fish unless your bait is ion the water”…he was a very competitive person.
Do you have a favourite place to fish?
That’s a tough one as I’ve fished a lot of places in the last 39 years of fishing for a living. If I had to pick just one place it would be the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario. I’ve won a lot of bass tournaments in the region so there’s a lot of fond memories.
Do you have a favourite lure or bait?
Absolutely not! I’m a tackle junkie and like fishing all kinds of techniques and lures. As a kid I’d work on the farms and all my money went to fishing tackle. To this day I’m always looking for a better mousetrap!
Is it difficult or time consuming to get those amazing photos and footage of you and your guests catching fish?
The answer is yes and no. The most common question I’ve been asked over the years is, how long does it take to shoot a show? We’ve shot a half hour TV episode in 35-40 minutes where the fish action is non-stop — cast after cast, fish — and others take a lot longer. An example would be a Belize saltwater trip was a show we aired a number of years back. Over a 5 day fishing adventure we lost numerous 100 pound plus tarpon, got completely spooled trolling for wahoo, etc. We put together what we had and squeaked out the show. That’s why we call the show Real Fishing, as we show it like it happens.
What’s the worst or most embarrassing day of fishing you’ve had?
When you spend a lot of time on the water you’re bound to have bad days. Our worst days don’t happen often but it would have to be getting skunked catching no fish at all. Those are the shows no one ever sees. LOL but crying on the inside when they happen! My next book should be 101 Real Fishing Excuses… the water was too muddy, the water was too clear, too much current, not enough current, blah blah blah.
Why do you believe recreational fishing is important to Canadians?
We are blessed with an incredible natural resource here in Canada. I’ve been able to fish all over the world and I truly believe our waters have more species, numbers and diversity than any other country.
What issues currently affect recreational fishing? What can we do to solve these issues?
All of us that fish need to keep the tradition alive by introducing as many newcomers as we can to see what they’re missing out on. Introducing children and adults to this sport is equally important. Basic fishing can be inexpensive and easy to get into but it always helps if there’s some guidance when first starting out.
Do you think anything needs to be done policy-wise to maintain our fishing heritage?
The Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association has done a great job working with various provinces on programs like license free fishing and National Fishing Week, and other programs. There are a lot of clubs that are always looking for volunteers to help out with kid’s derbys and conservation projects that are very important to the future of our fishing and fisheries.
Are you able to share one of your favourite fishing photos with us and describe where it was taken?
This photo is a more recent shot of my son Darren and I at the FLW Canada bass tournament in Trenton where we placed 4th. Fishing some team events with him over the years have been a lot of fun. Back in 2010 we won our first event as a team fishing the Renegade tour on Lake St Francis. I’ve been fortunate to have plenty of great memories.
Do you know a Canadian angler who fits the profile of a “Champion of Recreational Fishing?” Perhaps they introduce new anglers to the sport, or advocate for sustainable policies in government. Maybe they’re breaking down barriers on and off the water, or creating innovative ways for people to fish ethically. We’d love to chat with them! Please contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Canada Fishing is the national voice of Canada’s anglers, and we lead the effort to preserve your right to sustainably fish on our lakes, oceans, rivers and streams. By informing anglers of current and potential issues and threats affecting recreational fishing and access to public waters, our goal is to motivate anglers to take action on matters of importance to the future of fishing and conservation. We’re also your voice on Parliament Hill. If you would like to contribute to our efforts to “Keep Canada Fishing,” you can donate now via PayPal.