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A behind the scenes look at Deps Headquarters and interview with the founder, Mr. Okumura

Date: 7/6/10
Interview: Mr. Okumura
Subject: Deps - Japan
Interviewer: B.Hiroshima



Introduction: When it comes to big baits in Japan Deps is considered one of the pioneers and continues to develop some of the most exciting lineup of premium JDM baits. We take a look inside the operation at Deps Japan and spend some time with Mr. Okumura, the Founder and Owner of the company. 

B.Hiroshima:  You are known in America as one of the first trophy bass pioneers in Japan, when and where did you start fishing? 

Mr. Okumura: In my childhood I fished ponds and rivers, but I began bass fishing seriously around age 20 on Lake Biwa. 

The outside of Deps Headquarters at Ukyo-ku, Japan in the Kyoto Prefecture

B.Hiroshima: When did you start targeting trophy bass?  

Mr. Okumura: During my first serious year of bass fishing a friend invited me on a fishing trip to Lake Biwa. It was on the third day that I caught a bass of 56cm (22 inches) from then on my goal was to catch big bass.

B.Hiroshima:  When did you realize the effectiveness of throwing bigger baits for bigger bass? 

Mr. Okumura: I went to Lake Baccarac in Mexico around 12 years ago and met a Japanese fellow from Los Angeles. This man told me a story about an angler back home that pursued 10 pound bass with a bait called the Castaic-trout bait. I gave him money and asked him if he could purchase the bait and send it to me since big baits were not sold in Japan as of yet. After receiving the bait I went to the Ikehara dam (Nara prefecture in Japan) and had fish about 60-70 centimeters chasing the bait. From then on I caught many bass of 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) and over on the lure. From this experience, I began to understand the effectiveness of big baits.

Deps Highsiders during production

B.Hiroshima:  With Lake Biwa producing a world record tie, what is it about the great Biwa-ko that makes it breed such big fish?

Mr. Okumura: It is thought that one factor is the mixture of Northern strain and Florida strain largemouth. In addition there is an abundance of crustaceans such as shrimp and crawfish, small fish such as sweet fish and lotus fish. This results to bass being blessed with forage at an early age. Also it may have been good that bass were thinned out moderately for many years by fishermen (bass are considered an invasive species in Japan). What's interesting is in south Lake Biwa there was an abnormal bluegill infestation that lasted 4-5 years. From an early age the bass in this region grew up on bluegill, so it is thought that bass matured into a larger size as a result.

A look at the factory where baits are built, painted and packaged

B.Hiroshima:  Do you know roughly when Florida strain bass were first introduced into Lake Biwa and the Ikehara chain of lakes?

Mr. Okumura: In the Ikehara dam chain of lakes largemouth bass were introduced as an economic resource for both the catch and for fishing. In 1988 10,000 Florida strain bass were bought by the people of the native Shimokitayama town and were released into the chain of lakes surrounding the Ikehara dam. It is rumored that some of these Florida strain bass were quietly released into Lake Biwa during this period, however this cannot be confirmed. 

Deps B Custom blades are stocked and await shipment

B.Hiroshima:  When did the packs of big fish start showing up in Biwa?

Mr. Okumura: Anglers that fished the Ikehara dam were the first to catch 10 pound bass consistently. However the Japanese bass record (7120 grams/15.69lbs) fell suddenly in Lake Biwa during the month of January year 2000. Since then the average big bass has slowly risen year by year in both lakes. 

F Sonic 2 lures in an array of patterns

B.Hiroshima:  Switching gears here.....Where is Deps located?

Mr. Okumura: The company is located in Ukyo-ku, Japan in the Kyoto Prefecture.

Deps is known for their incredible attention to detail and offers lures in a dizzying array of finishes

B.Hiroshima: Around what year did you start customizing and making your own lures?

Mr. Okumura: Around 1998 I was catching a lot of big bass on commercial 1oz spinner baits, but one day a monster bass hit my bait and broke it! Since then I began making my own baits.

Innovative Prop Jigs

B.Hiroshima:  Were there any lures made outside of Japan that inspired you?

Mr. Okumura: Yes, lures such as the Castaic trout and Stocker trout.

B.Hiroshima:  Can you tell us a little about your process in developing a new lure at Deps?

Mr. Okumura: I make my lures all by hand at first and test them in the field. As I fish them I slowly try to improve on them, however sometimes I end up with more failure than successes.

All Deps lure designs begin right here on the prototyping table

B.Hiroshima:  You have some of the most impressive looking patterns and finishes on the market, how important is matching your lures to the real thing?

Mr. Okumura: If you’re fishing a muddy area pure paint and an elaborate style may not be the best quality. However with regard to the bass of monster size, I believe the action and material used in a bait must be as close to the real thing as possible. In addition as the water clears bass utilize their sight more, therefore the reality of appearance becomes more important.

Deps rods are ready for shipment, the company is currently partnered with Optimum Baits

B.Hiroshima:  With the introduction of the new Huge Customs line of rods, is there a growing number of big bait enthusiasts in Japan or are these rods also aimed at the American market?

Mr. Okumura: The big bait boom has gone away in Japan and the big bait lover has settled in the minority. However I believe the Huge Custom series will not be overlooked by the big bass hunter who knows the power of the big bait and still trusts it most. In addition I am very interested in the American market and am currently exporting through Optimum baits (http://optimumbaits.com/OB2/).

It helps that Mr. Okumura is a passionate big bass hunter and is constantly designing new lures designed to target lunkers

B.Hiroshima: Thank you Mr. Okumura for his great insight, it has been an honor and privilege. We look forward to your upcoming lures and rods and hope to see more of them here in the U.S. soon.

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