Chris Zaldain in a big fish flurry

Chris Zaldain had a big fish flurry late in the day yesterday. We’ve been waiting on that for quite some time. 

The last 20 minutes he’s been in a flurry. Catching a fish on virtually every cast. But none have been much over 2 pounds. 

The sun continues to get brighter and Zaldain keeps plugging but the clock continues to chip away as well. 

He has less than 45 minutes of fishing. 

Check in is 5 pm. And it will take 1 hour, 15 minutes to get back. It could take longer with the increased boat traffic. 

The thing is it takes so long to catch these fish. Several minutes for any fish that can help him. 

I keep remembering the Elite on Guntersville when Zaldain has a late flurry and was probably 5 extra minutes from having enough time to win there. 

Kennedy the tinkerer

Steve Kennedy is a lure tinkerer by trade, sort of. The Alabama pro channels his professional engineering background into modifying lures. Sometimes even without the hooks. Here’s what he told me this morning when interviewed for the top lures gallery. 

“In practice almost exclusively, I threw a G-Ratt Baits Sneaky Pete with the hooks removed. I caught a four-pounder on my first cast and put it away, thinking I’d use it during the tournament.”

The glide bait failed to produce fish early on during the tournament. Not to be outdone, Kennedy engineered a workaround while retaining the high potential of his area to produce during the week. 

He switched to a 4.8 Keitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait, and using a needle, threaded the line through the body and added an inline 2/0 Gamakatsu Treble Hook. For missed fish he followed up with a 1/8-ounce marabou hair jig. 
What made this all a good move is that Kennedy was able to fish his same area—this time with hooked lures—and make it to Championship Sunday. 

Canterbury vs. Frazier

Scott Canterbury made a big move upriver, stopping on a main-river point around which Micah Frazier was drifting. Canterbury set up his drift just south and to the shoreline of Frazier, and immediately hooked up with a 4-12. Frazier countered with a throwback and a solid keeper that allowed him to cull up. Frazier finally ran farther upriver to set up a drift. “I told you down there I was two bites away from winning,” Canterbury said. “Now I’m one away. I need a 6-pounder.”

Combs thinks big

This morning after interviewing him for the top lures gallery I hitched a boat ride with Keith Combs to the takeoff dock. He was already thinking big—just like his lure selection. On the center seat of his Ranger was a Cloverhill Big Texas Cinnamon Roll. What else was Texas big in the boat were his lure choices. Watching LIVE you’d think Combs was back home jacking on big largemouth. Instead he was armed and ready for action with this lineup of lures. This week on the St. Lawrence River he rotated through a crankbait, jerkbait and tube jig. The lineup includes a 3.5-inch Strike King KVD Pro Model Tube threaded through a 5/16-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tube Jig Head. A Strike King KVD 300 Jerkbait, and Strike King 5XD and 6XD crankbaits are the other power fishing choices.
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Decision time

The day is progressively getting brighter which is a good thing for all the anglers. 

Smallmouth seem to love the sun and when it’s brighter they seem to pull up shallower. The more sun they get the more fuel they have and more they want to burn. 

The last few hours of today should be really interesting if this trend continues. 

Looking at BassTrakk no one seems to be distancing themselves from the pack. The door is open for virtually everyone. 

Two bites from Zaldain like those from the previous three days and he’s in the lead. That goes for Chris Johnston as well. 

The thing we are seeing is that as the day wears on we are starting to see those big black bodies swimming in shallower water. 

The more sun they get the blacker they get. 

From this point on it will boil down to who makes the right decisions and how well the execution for each plays out.

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Two bites away

Scott Canterbury can’t look at Basstrakk, so he has no idea he’s currently in the lead. But he’s confident in what’s happening for him today. “I’m two bites away from winning this thing,” he said. “The right bites.”

Canterbury upgrades again

Scott Canterbury has about 18 pounds when I tracked him down fishing a downriver point on an island north of Ogdensburg, and it didn’t take long for him to upgrade a bit. He picked up his trolling motor to leave when another smaller picked up his drop shot. It wasn’t a giant - just 2-13 - but it added a couple of ounces and kept him in the lead. But he’s a spare 8 ounces ahead of Micah Frazier. In fact, there’s barely more than 2 pounds separating the Top 4 anglers, according to Basstrakk.