PLATTSBURGH, N.Y., Aug. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The big bites mostly eluded Kyoya Fujita, but the Elite rookie’s diligence delivered the coveted blue trophy, as the Japanese superstar amassed the winning total of 86 pounds, 12 ounces in the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.
“This feels great!” Fujita said. “My dream (has been) to win an Elite Series tournament. My dream came true.”
After placing 10th on Day 1 with 21-5, Fujita added 23-14 — the VMC Monster Bag of the event — and took over the Day 2 lead. Fujita held onto the top spot with a Semifinal Sunday limit of 22-9 and closed the deal with his Championship Monday bag that weighed 19 pounds.
The week brought a diverse meteorological mix, which included a storm system that postponed Day 2 from Friday to Saturday. Days 1 and 3 brought mostly sunny conditions, while the even number days saw dimmer, cloudy skies. Wind was a constant challenge.
Heavily geared toward sight feeding, smallmouth like sunshine, so Championship Monday’s dreary conditions, plus a week’s worth of heavy fishing pressure, seemed to be curbing the fish’s aggression. After three days with multiple 4-pounders, Fujita had only one fish over 4 Monday and fell short of the 20-pound mark for the first time.
“It was a struggle today,” Fujita said. “I got on a school of fish (later in the day) and they wouldn’t bite. I kept dropping on them and finally a big one bit my bait on the way down.”
A multiple-event winner and four-time Angler of the Year on the Japanese professional bass scene, Fujita edged third-year pro Justin Atkins by 1-6. For his efforts, Fujita won the $100,000 top prize plus a $2,000 bonus for catching the VMC Monster Bag.
Making his fourth Top 10 for the 2023 Elite season, Fujita spent his entire event in the Inland Sea, where he used Garmin LiveScope to target smallmouth bass that were following schools of baitfish. Mostly targeting the east side of Dameas and Knight islands, Fujita worked in depths of 12 to 30…