He's put Canada's longest-running syndicated fishing show to bed, but Bob Izumi isn't retiring.
Last week, Izumi announced his "Real Fishing Show" had come to an end after 38 seasons. That prompted a flood of retirement well-wishes, but the affable 63-year-old Blenheim, Ont., native will remain very much in the public eye.
He'll continue working as a brand ambassador for his sponsors and recently boosted his social-media presence, adding a TikTok account -- Izumi has been on Facebook and Instagram -- to deliver content.
He's also involved in projects with LandPass -- an exclusive app that brings landowners together with hunters and anglers -- as well as Izumi Aquaculture, a Burlington, Ont., company involving Izumi's brother/business partner, Wayne, that repurposes gravel pits into fish farms.
Izumi plans to continue fishing bass tournaments -- his long-standing passion/addiction -- while also enjoying quality time with his four month-old grandson, Tommy.
"The word retirement isn't really in my personal vocabulary," Izumi said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I'm going to keep working in the industry as long as I can . . . I love the fishing business.
"I've met so many great people in fishing and this business and that's one reason why I'd never just walk away from it."
Izumi began the "Real Fishing Show" in 1983 to help support what he calls his "tournament fishing addiction." The show would become Canada's longest-running syndicated series.
"One of the main reasons I stayed in it for so many years was to keep fishing tournaments on the side and let that help support it," he said with a chuckle. "But for me, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and move on while still staying relative to the fishing business through other channels.
"I also want to fish for fun, which for me is competitive tournament fishing, and I realize there's only so many good years left to try to keep up with some of these young guys who seem to be dominating most events out there."
Izumi said the global pandemic had no bearing on the timing of the move. He added he decided '19 that this would be the show's final year.
Izumi said there's plenty that goes into the production of a TV show that viewers are unaware of. In recent years, Izumi had personally taken on scheduling locations, guests and venues for each episode.
And then there was the matter of getting there.
"Many of the times when we'd do Northwestern Ontario, we'd drive 22 hours there over a day and a half," Izumi said. "We'd shoot the day we got there, finish the show the next day and start driving back.
"We did that a lot and in recent years so, yeah, there are parts of it I won't miss."
Izumi often spent 300 days annually on the road and away from his wife, Sandy, and their two now-grown children, Darren and Kristin. It's not something Izumi wants to do now as a grandfather.
"I'm looking at this little guy and I can't believe how special he is," Izumi said. "I've said to myself, 'I don't remember these days when my kids were little because I was travelling so much.
"Yes, I had a good bond with my kids and I still do to this day, but much of it happened when they were growing up rather than when they were little. It's probably my only regret . . . I don't want to miss that with my grandson. I want to be able to take that little guy out in the boat and have a bond with him."
But there are definitely elements of Real Fishing the down-to-earth host will miss.
"What I'll miss the most is all of the wonderful people I'd meet on location," Izumi said. "It's all about memories and we made a ton of them over the years, that's for sure.
"I'm still going to keep making memories but the show allowed me to a do a lot of checks on that bucket list."
"Real Fishing" took Izumi all over the world. He fished for marlin off the Great Barrier Reef, tangled with tenacious peacock bass multiple times in the Amazon Forest and waded for brown trout in Tasmania.
"I'm almost embarrassed that I've got to experience so many incredible things throughout my TV career," Izumi said. "It's almost like I don't want to feel like I'm bragging but it's embarrassing because it was so good.
"I don't know if I deserved it but I certainly enjoyed doing them."
But for Izumi, nothing will beat fishing in Canada and the variety of species available to anglers.
"I'd return from some of the most incredible trips and I'd be off to a tournament and I'd still say to myself, 'The best fishing in the world is still right here in Canada,'" he said. "You fish Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, all of these exotic places and then you come back and look at the diversity of the fishing we have in Canada and you just shake your head.
"It was great to see all of those other places and be able to experience the fishing there . . . but it really is the best here."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press