MANITOULIN – Celebrity angler Bob Izumi was the special guest at this year’s Manitoulin Ice Showdown and, by all accounts, was both a great fit and a great asset to the event.
Mr. Izumi was all smiles during his five-day stay on Manitoulin and said he and his crew had a lot of fun. The Expositor pulled him aside for a fireside chat Saturday evening during his meet-and-greet event at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre.
“One of the goals of this Ice Showdown is to promote the four-seasons fishery on Manitoulin Island. That doesn’t always work because a lot of places don’t have the same opportunities at different times of year,” said Mr. Izumi. “This is a great multi-species fishery here that has lots of fish and lots of big fish. It’s very marketable—it’s got all the important ingredients in the recipe.”
This was only Mr. Izumi’s second time to the Island, which marks the breaking of a decades-old promise between him and a former crew member.
“Back in the ‘80s, I had a cameraman for about eight years from Sudbury and he made me promise that I’d never do a show on Manitoulin,” he said. “It’s taken me all this time to finally break my promise with my cameraman; now that I’ve broken it, I know why he didn’t want me to film here—he didn’t want me to show how good it was!”
After he and that crew member parted ways, the idea of a Manitoulin show didn’t come up until last fall when he and the crew visited Batman’s Campground in Sheguiandah.
“(Manitoulin Island) is very cool and has a lot to offer. Even the surrounding big water is full of fish.”
The Island surprised Mr. Izumi and his crew in more ways than just the fishing.
“Here’s what’s blown my mind on this trip. In our first trip to Batman’s, (owners) Andre and Lisa were so nice. There were even a lot of regulars who stay there to fish and they treated us royally,” said Mr. Izumi. “This time, we’ve been everywhere on the Island and we’ve met so many people, and they’re all just as nice.”
He even met an on-Island resort owner who hails from Mr. Izumi’s home of Milton.
As Mr. Izumi has gotten older he has gained a newfound appreciation for the non-fishing aspects of a fishing trip.
“Places like this remind me of something I’ve only realized in the last decade: the fishing is important but it’s not the most important. It’s really about the neat people you meet. Everybody was friendly, nice; it didn’t matter where I went whether it was gas stations, stores, restaurants or touring a fish farm, I’ve met more nice people on this trip than any other I’ve taken,” said Mr. Izumi.
That’s high praise for someone who gets around quite a bit in the angling circuit. He has been a professional angler for four decades and has hosted fishing shows for 37 years.
Although the Izumi crew did not partake in the fishing during the event, they managed to get in a fair amount of fishing in the days leading up to the weekend.
“It’s been pretty good and we’re lucky to have caught pretty well all of the big lakers on video,” he said.
During the derby, he and his crew spent the bulk of their time travelling around to the various weigh-in stations and visiting anglers on the ice. Although the warm weather and sunny skies was a nice bonus for the anglers, it did cause large amounts of slush buildup in certain spots—so much so that on a filming expedition, his SnoBear vehicle nearly got stuck. Mr. Izumi was given the joking Native name of “Bob Stuckinslush,” although he said it was far from the worst name he’s received.
“It’s better than Smelly Cat or Fatty, which are two that I’ve heard of so far!” he said with a laugh. “But don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see, okay?”
His team worked in conjunction with Islander Neil Debassige’s show Fuel The Fire TV and the two will be sharing footage for their respective shows.
“It’s humbling to be able to fulfil a life-long dream of mine with my show, getting to film with Bob, Wayne and their crew. They’re a fantastic group of people, down to earth, and it’s like the show says—real fishing,” said Mr. Debassige. He added that the Izumis had kind words about Fuel The Fire TV’s mission to encourage viewers to find their passions and get outdoors, which served as a reminder of the power of his program.
Mr. Izumi’s special will be aired four times in 2021 on Global Television, as well as several times on the World Fishing Network in the US and on Sportsman Channel Canada. Fuel The Fire TV also airs on Sportsman Channel Canada.