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Mariko Izumi, TV's 'sexiest angler,' brings show to St. Petersburg

The first rule of fishing in a bikini: Watch your hook. Here, Mariko Izumi, left, and a pal show off a new fine-finned friend. Season 3 begins shooting next month.

Handout photo

The first rule of fishing in a bikini: Watch your hook. Here, Mariko Izumi, left, and a pal show off a new fine-finned friend. Season 3 begins shooting next month.

You're a 26-year-old woman with a college degree in French. You're a "foodie" and you love to travel.

So what do you do for a living?

You host a fishing show.

"It just kind of happened," said Mariko Izumi, who started working part-time for an upstart outdoors channel in Toronto, the World Fishing Network, while in grad school. Izumi is the host of Hookin' Up (nudge, wink) on WFN. The half-hour show is a mash-up of reality shows — think No Reservations on a much smaller budget with a little Wild On thrown in.

What it's not is some guy casting his line from a boat.

Sure, there's some fishing, but Izumi also tackles challenges at each location that don't use tackle. For example, the episode airing Monday night was shot in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area and includes her taking a flying lesson.

"It's one of those shows," Izumi said, "you could put on MTV, you could put on the Food Network, you could put on the Travel (Channel). The show can really appeal to anglers and non-anglers."

Izumi is from one of fishing's royal families in her native Canada. She's the daughter of pro angler Wayne Izumi and the niece of Bob Izumi — host of the long-running fishing show Real Fishing.

"I always say to people that my father and my uncle are the expert fisher people, and I'm just someone who likes to fish and really enjoys it," she said.

But it's safe bet that Mariko is the only Izumi in the family to be called the "world's sexiest angler."

(Sorry, guys, she's engaged.)

The Times caught up with her during a break from the show. Izumi lives outside Toronto, where she chatted with us while driving.

The WFN press release calls you the "world's sexiest angler." Are you?

(Laughs) I don't know, it's hard for me to say. I've been told that. Let's put it half-way: I have some chance, I guess. I'm sure there are other sexy anglers out there, too.

Is it difficult to fish in a bikini?

No, no. It's definitely not difficult to fish in a bikini. In fact, when it's hot, it's the best. Because if you're sweating, then you're more comfortable, right?

No safety issues?

The same issues as if you're in just like regular shorts and T-shirt. You always have to be careful of the hook, obviously. No, it's not really dangerous — it just makes for a good tan.

What brought you to the Tampa Bay area?

One of the reasons is because Joe Mercurio, who is the host of the Pro Tarpon Tournament Series — he's a native of Sarasota and he hosts that (PTTS) fishing TV show — invited me to take part in the whole weekend for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. ... One of the things we did was an afternoon fishing derby with a whole bunch of the kids on the dock just outside the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel and Resort. ... It was really fun to help and watch the kids fish for an hour outside in the sun.

The description of your show on my cable guide says you "travel the globe and cook with world famous chefs, attend wild parties and fish with some of the best anglers." That sounds like a pretty good job!

I definitely cannot complain. I totally love my job and consider myself to be a very lucky girl. … It's always something fishing-related no matter what. Sometime it's cooking, sometimes it's just eating, which is excellent, too. But sometimes the (challenges) are something very specific to that area. For example, in Miami, which we shot right after the St. Petersburg-Clearwater episode, I did trapezing — kind of like a circus school right on the beach. I went to DJ school to learn how to scratch records because Miami is known for its music and DJ scene. Basically, WFN can challenge me to all sorts of things. I'm pretty much traveling the world doing all sorts of fishing and non-fishing related things. But a lot of times it's got something to do with cooking, because I really like food.

Do you watch a lot of food TV?

I do. Especially when I'm on the road, if I'm by myself in my hotel room. I'm shooting for WFN and I'm usually watching the Food Network.

What's the biggest fish you've caught?

People always ask that. And I'm pretty sure in terms of size it would be a shark. I was in Miami about four years ago and I caught a hammerhead. … That was a very big fish, but it wasn't a Jaws or anything.

Get hooked

Hookin' Up with Mariko Izumi airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. on the World Fishing Network (WFN). Next week's episode was filmed in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. For more information, see wfn.tv/hookinup.

Fast facts

Get hooked

Hookin' Up with Mariko Izumi airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. on the World Fishing Network (WFN). Next week's episode was filmed in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. See wfn.tv/hookinup.

Mariko Izumi, TV's 'sexiest angler,' brings show to St. Petersburg 04/15/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 17, 2010 12:14am]

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