Westernbass Magazine February 2012, Page 42

Westernbass Magazine February 2012, Page 42




G alo O Dcae L lltg D ae E ts N TICKET


opping the Bassmaster Central Open An-

gler of the Year (AOY) points, an invitation

to the Elites and first billing on Kramer’s

California Top 40 sums up the year for 27-year-old, Chris Zaldain from San Jose, Calif. Zal-

dain, a former kick boater, calls his home water the

California Delta; but in the next 60 days he will find

himself embarking on a solo trip around the coun-

try in a bass angling adventure with the best of the

best-ask anybody at a fishing pond anywhere- it is

the stuff that dreams are made of.

“They are calling me a hometown hero; but it

doesn’t feel like it, yet,” commented Zaldain as he

recalled his experience in the Central Opens of 2011. “I

keep seeing kids saying I want to be just like you and

that feels strange; because I always wanted to be like

KVD or Ike or Skeet Reese-that was always my goal.”

Explaining that he worked his way to the Elite

invitation from the ground up Zaldain reminisced

about the days of kickboat and float boat

tournaments. He then said, “I did that for about three

years then I went on to the FLW EverStarts and

B.A.S.S. Opens as a co-angler. I was fortunate to win

a boat in 2005 and while most guys sell their boat

wins for prize money, I kept mine and wanted to do

something with it that would make a difference.”

Zaldain’s way of making a difference was taking

a year off. He went on a bass tournament sabbatical


and put all his time, money and effort into learning to fish from the front deck of a fully-rigged, bass boat. It was a foreign concept to him at the time. Committing three days a week on the water, sunup to sundown, for one year, he made his difference and when the time came for the 2007 FLW National Guard to come out west, Zaldain was good to go.

“With that year behind me, I knew I was ready to fish pro in the biggest and baddest circuit the West had seen,” stated Zaldain. “February came around and I went out to my first tournament. It was at Havasu and I made a top-10. It was incredible. I was at the top of the ramp with Dean Rojas on one side and Gary Dobyns on the other and they were congratulating me. I was so excited.”

That was only the beginning of Zaldain’s rise to the top. In 2007 and for four consecutive years Zaldain continued fishing the National Guard and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup every year. For him, things changed in 2011 when FLW pulled the Guard tournaments and sent out the EverStarts. He explained, “I felt this was a step back for me and I wanted to go forward, so I decided if I didn’t want to go backwards, I would have to step up and I went to the Opens with the goal of getting to the Elites.”

His step up turned out to be a step in the right direction. With the three tournaments in the Central Opens ahead of him, Zaldain was granted four weeks