THE ELITE INVITE
off of work and he set out to follow his dream.
He started out the Opens season in late Feb. with a trip to Lake Lewisville in Lewisville, Texas. Right out of the gate he racked up a top-10. “I felt great, my goal was to finish the series in the top five in points to get the invitation to fish the Elites and this 7th place finish kept me right there,” stated Zaldain.
The second stop took him to the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Okla. “It was far away; but it felt like home and I flipped it like the Delta,” recalled Zaldain. His confidence in flippin’ his home waters transferred well to the River and he knocked it out of the park in Oklahoma with a second place finish against 131 other Opens anglers. With only one Central Opens stop left, Zaldain sat in first overall in the standings.
The last hurdle was Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. “All that was on mind was going to Table Rock and solidifying my position as AOY,” explained Zaldain. “This tournament had originally been scheduled earlier in the year but it was hit with record rainfall and they cancelled and sent us home. When the time came to head back there in Oct., I had already spent a lot of time and energy in practice and I just went back and gave it some more.” Zaldain finished in the top-20 in Branson and cemented his place as the top angler in the Central Opens, sealing the envelope on his Elite Invite.
When asked by B.A.S.S. if he would take them up on their offer to join the ranks of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros Zaldain said, “I’ll definitely fish the Elites; that’s why I joined the Opens this year.”
“It is definitely going to take hard work and dedication,” noted Zaldain as he looked at the road ahead of him. “I am looking at it like I’m leaving for seven months on a new job that I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get. I will be on the clock, fishin’ like it is my nine to five. I work hard to get knowledge on the fisheries that I go to and I pride myself on extensive internet research. I can’t wait to get started.”
Hoping to get more experience on the business side of fishing, he said, “It is a tough economy out there and you have to show a company what you can do for them. You can’t just garner sponsorships on your fishing skills - you got to get working and that is what I’m going to do.”
The announcement on the B.A.S.S. ban on the Alabama style rig in the Elite circuit was a decision he was pleased with. “I like it- I like it a lot,” said Zaldain. “Growing up in California has given me the tools to fish a tournament with a tough bite and excel at it. Like Cody and Aaron I can tie on the light line, one lure and fish a tough bite. As we know, ‘the rig’ can make anyone a superstar; so I like the ban. Not that I don’t think it’s a fun lure to fish. I caught my first fish on one at Clear Lake and it was a 9-pounder. It was definitely fun and that thing flat catches fish. It is making fish that don’t want to bite, bite. It can change any tournament that it can legally be fished in.”
Excited to be the first angler sent out to the Elites from California since 2005, Zaldain wanted to thank all of the support he has received from the West Coast.
His first Elite event will take place in March on the St. John’s River in Palatka, Fla. Thus far, he has acquired sponsorships with Skeeter, Yamaha, Seaguar, Powell Rods, Top Shelf and Skinny Bear Jigs. He can be followed at www.zaldain.com