Japanese pro Takahiro Omori reeled in some last-minute heriocs to become the 34th annual CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic champion on the waters of Lake Wylie in Charlotte, N.C. Landing his two biggest bass with under five minutes remaining in the competition, the 33-year-old Tokyo native and Emory, Texas resident won the 2004 title, with his five fish limit weighing in at 39 pounds, 2 ounces to post a 2-pound-12 ounce margin of victory over Californian Aaron Martens. Omori earned $200,000 for the victory and became the first foreign angler to win the Classic.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Omori, who pounded the stage repeatedly and cried openly before the 13,200 spectators at the weigh-in at the Charlotte Coliseum. “I've waited 18 years for my dream to come true—since I was 15.”
The CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic, hosted by B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), is professional bass fishing’s world championship. Qualifiers for the three-day event include the 40 top pros on the CITGO BASSMASTER Tour and the five top-ranked anglers from each of three CITGO BASSMASTER Open circuits. Anglers may weigh only five bass per day and each bass must be at least 12 inches long. Only artificial lures are permitted. The first Classic, held at Lake Mead, Nev. in 1971, was a $10,000 winner-take-all event.
Multiple winners: Rick Clunn (4); George Cochran, Bobby Murray and Hank Parker (2).