PURSUING THE AMERICAN DREAM WITH JAPANESE ANGLER MASAYUKI MATSUSHITA
Masayuki Matsushita just finished up his second year on the Bassmaster Elite Series where he qualified through the Bassmaster Opens in 2021. He also won the 2020 Bassmaster Central Open at Sam Rayburn Reservoir which qualified him for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. These are great accomplishments, but they take a lot of sacrificing as a Japanese angler. During the tournament season, he resides in a self-built home in the bed of his Toyota Tundra. There are lots of unique features he added such as air conditioning, a microwave, a mini fridge, storage shelving, and hydraulics that lift the camper shell for extra room.
Matsushita was taught how to fish by one of his junior high school classmates and he fell in love with it ever since. Influenced by fishing magazines, he developed a deep longing to visit America, the birthplace of bass fishing. He quit high school at 19 years old and went to Dallas where he visited Bass Pro Shops every day for a week straight and never got tired of it. This excitement that he experienced fanned the flame of his burning passion to move to America. After returning to Japan, Matsushita became a bass fishing guide on Lake Biwa and purchased his first bass boat at 21 years old. He claims that he almost gave up on his dream many times as it was hard to make a living as a guide and was even doubted by people around him that told him he could never make it to America, but then he was inspired by anglers like Ken Iyobe and Morizo Shimizu.
Matsushita’s life in America is not easy as he is away from his family for most of the year. He returns to Japan twice during the tournament season and once during the off-season to spend time with family. During the season, he stays in campgrounds where the average price is about $25 per night. For food, he usually buys “SUSHI” rice at Walmart and cooks it with vegetables and meat. During tournaments, he likes to get up at 4:30 am to make onigiri (rice balls). Living in America has allowed Matsushita to develop long-lasting friendships like with his friend Calvin whom he met while competing in the Bassmaster Opens. Matsushita states, “We went to a few more tournaments together, developing a strong friendship that extended to include his family. I’ve known his children since they were babies, so they’ve become like a second family to me. They are a big part of my success in America”.
One of the most challenging experiences that Matsushita has had on the Elite Series was shortly after his 3rd place finish to start off his rookie season. After that event on the St. Johns River, he was in a hurry to head straight to the next event on the Harris Chain. Without fully locking his pop-up camper, he headed down the road. About 10 minutes later, a tremendous wind blew the camper top off the bed of his truck into the middle of the road. A passerby who had heard Matsushita’s speech on stage in the previous tournament was kind enough to bring a trailer to load up the roof for him so that he could compete at the Harris Chain. There are other challenges that occur like break downs with the truck or boat, and Matsushita says that it can be extremely stressful since he can’t speak fluent English to ask for help. However, he knows that he must adjust his mindset and stay positive to be successful. A good thing about Japan is that you can easily call a nearby friend for help, but America is too big for that as he travels all over the country. On a positive note, however, he claims that many Americans have been willing to lend a helping hand when he is in trouble.
When Matsushita was in his 20s, some older people told him that his dream to live as a bass pro was over. Now he is in his 40s, and although it has taken some time, he believes that anything is possible if you truly have a dream. Matsushita states, “If you keep challenging yourself at your own timing and pace you will make it happen. You don’t need reasons why you can’t do it, but you can think of reasons why you can do it and will do it. In doing this, your dream will become true one day”. He strongly recommends that Japanese anglers see America at least once, but he also feels that it is important to be successful in Japan before expanding. Despite his struggles, Masayuki Matsushita is in love with America. He explains, “I have experienced many things in America that I couldn’t in Japan. There was no mistake in my decision to come to America, and I want to continue it for the rest of my life. There are many struggles, and each moment is tough, but overall, I find joy in it. America, which I have dreamed of for 20 years, is where I truly belong”.
Watch a video of how Masayuki has made his truck into a home on the road in the US.