Chasing fish and chasing dreams
Kazuki Kitajima - University of Arkansas

Not all collegiate anglers have aspirations to go pro. Some fish simply because they love the sport; some fish to take the national title home to their school; and some fish to catch that one that got away. But there’s one college angler fishing in the 2008 BoatU.S. NCBFC who came from halfway around the world to chase a dream.

University of Arkansas angler Kazuki Kitajima was born and raised in Japan. After Kitajima graduated from high school, he moved to the United States to begin chasing his dream: to fish at the pro level in the United States.

“I have been fishing since I can remember. I used to fish with a friend of mine, then my dad started fishing more. We would all go together sometimes,” Kitajima recalls.

It was in high school that the fire of Kazuki’s dream was stoked. He met a teacher who taught him a lot about bass fishing. “That was also around the time that Takahiro Omoiri was really becoming famous,” he said. This inspired Kazuki even more and gave him the extra faith that he could follow in Omoiri’s footsteps.

“I wanted to come to America because bass fishing is bigger here than in Japan. I chose to move to Arkansas because that is where I saw that a lot of the good anglers came from,” he said. So that’s exactly what he did. When he arrived in Arkansas, Kitajima did not know how to speak English. He started fishing BFL events as a co-angler and learned the language by attending a community college while living with an Arkansas family.

After graduating from community college, Kitajima decided to attend the University of Arkansas. Shortly after beginning the semester, he heard of the school’s fishing team and joined. During this time, Kitajima continued his BFL career and took home his first win as a boater in 2006 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Kitajima has already competed at the pro level with his first appearance on the FLW Tour this past year on Beaver Lake. With this kind of experience and drive, he and his University of Arkansas partner Bodie Drake are definitely be a team to watch for in this year’s championship.

Regardless of how Kitajima and Drake finish at this year’s championship, Kazuki has already made history as the first collegiate angler from Japan to compete for the national title. Will he make history again with a win as the first international collegiate bass champion?