Gary Yamamoto arguably may be the most famous angler in the world. At 67 years of age Gary has basically done it all in the sport of fishing. He’s a very accomplished multi species angler; lure inventor, promoter, and even cattle rancher. While most of the world is familiar with his name and incredible products Gary has delivered over the last 30 years. Many might not realize, that the quiet Texas based pro, is originally from the west coast and even got his start in lure manufacturing on the shores of the Colorado River. Driven by a need to produce better lures for his own tournament success, Gary started GYCB in the early eighties with a small product line of grubs. That original line of baits would soon transcend the world’s oceans and become one of the most innovative and popular brands world wide. The Hula Grub with its realistic colors and salt impregnation basically became a mainstay in every pros box from the US to Japan. Later the Senko would literally become industry defining, bringing an entire new style of rigging and technique into play. Over the years the Yamamoto name and product line has continued to grow around the world. One thing that has fueled that growth is the competitive spirit that drives Yamamoto to constantly look for perfection.
Gary Yamamoto is still looking for that perfection, and this year marks the return of Yamamoto to the US Open of Bass fishing. Gary may not go as far as Rick Clunn in stating that the US Open is quite frankly the biggest and toughest event on the planet. But make no mistake he believes it may have been one of the most important events ever conceived “the US Open was the first event to really put big cash on the table, it drew every big name in the country because of the size of the purse and the tough conditions” states Yamamoto. For Gary the event is nothing new, he’s had top finishes in the event over the years and in 1995 was crowned US Open champion. That event only furthered the Yamamoto name and increased the international awareness of just how deadly his products were. In the late nineties Gary decided like many western anglers to move back east and compete on the Bassmaster and FLW tours. Gary found major success on both tours and even internationally in both Japan and Europe.
But even with 118 degree day time temperatures the allure of winning a second US Open title was just too much for the Legend Boats pro to miss out on. “ I towed my Alpha 211 across the country to be at this event, my wife thinks I’m half way crazy to be out here in this heat, but its really like coming home for me”. One would almost question the sanity of any angler in this event, three grueling days in the Nevada heat. Lake Mead in itself can test the mental toughness of any angler. Aside from the heat the fishing is in general, just plain tough in July. The waves can batter equipment apart as wind seems to turn a placid 70 mile long reservoir into an ocean in minutes. None the less for 30 years the best anglers in the west as well as nationally have come in search of the prestige of winning the title. Names like Clunn, Klein, Tauber, Folkstead, Velvick, Murray, Martens, Dobyns, have all held the title. And the list of anglers that have come back year after year and never won it is also absolutely impressive. Only a handful of anglers have ever won the event multiple times with Clunn probably being most famous for it. Gary Yamamoto would like to add his name to that list “ at 67 I still know I can do real well” says Gary, “ if I didn’t think I could win this event I wouldn’t be here”. At the same time the competition is fierce, and you can guarantee every angler on the water today will have Gary’s creations in their box. None of that seems to bother Yamamoto he is focused on winning a second US Open title cut and dry “ I still have some secrets” he jokes, insinuating maybe a new product in his box but promising to talk about it after the event is over. For anglers like myself who have placed high in the event, and even come close to winning it, I truly understand just what an amazing event it is. This morning will be my 10th US Open it’s the best show on earth! Las Vegas is an incredible setting to show case the best anglers in the world, but as Paul Elias mentioned years ago “the fish here might be just too stupid for many of us to catch!” Either way, the field is set, with 240 pros and co-anglers ready to take on the gentle giant known as Mead. Having legendary anglers Like Gary Yamamoto come home to do battle again only makes it more memorable.