Zaldain arrives to his first area

Exactly 1 hour, 15 minutes after take off Chris Zaldain has arrived to his first fishing area. 

This is where he did a lot of his damage on Day 3. While many of the other leaders are catching fish in relatively shallow water, Zaldain is fishing a big point off an island. The point is easily 1/4 mile long and he’s focusing on water in the 40-feet range. 

Rather than drifting as we’ve seen so much this week, he’s actually casting to a drop with chunk rock on it.

Waiting on Chris Zaldain

Mark Zona and I have launched in Clayton to meet up with Chris Zaldain. 

Zaldain has been making this long run every morning and we expect him to be here in about 15 minutes. But we can’t be sure. 

The wind is a bit stronger than forecast. And it’s coming out of the Southwest. That could make it bumpier than it’s been all week. Likewise it could slow Zaldain some. 

Make no mistake, though, Zaldain will be down here. This is the third or fourth time he’s been in contention to win this season and he is tasting this one more than the others. 

Just 6 ounces from the lead it’s my guess there’s no wave too big to climb today.

Hanselman gets a green fish

Ray Hanselman just landed bass No. 2, a largemouth that went about two pounds. 

Both of his fish have come on a Strike King 5XD, which he’s ripping through grass on humps right off the main river channel on the Canadian side.

Hanselman breaks the ice

Ray Hanselman was the lone Top 10 angler to head downriver from Waddington, but the decision has already paid off. 

At his second stop, he set the hook on what turned out to be a 4-pounder. 
The catch pushed into second on Basstrakk, less than 2 1/2 pounds behind leader Chris Johnston. 

DiPalma's change up

This morning while recording details for the top lures gallery, Greg DiPlama revealed that his first stop of the day would be to largemouth water. 

He’s had the itch all week. Each day when quizzed about his strategy he focused on drift fishing for smallmouth on the river. Today would be different. 

“I’m going to make a run today and go for the largemouth. I’m going to swing for it, catch largemouth the first thing in the morning. If I strike out I’ll go back to the drifts. 

“If they are there I will catch everyone of them there within the first 20 minutes.”

How will he catch them? 

“On a Texas rigged worm.”

Simplicity at its finest for a gutsy move. 

On Thursday, DiPalma used a Riot Baits Lil’ Creeper Jig. Beginning on Friday he switched to a Carolina Rig, made with a Riot Baits Little Fuzzy, on a 3/0 Hayabusa HD Round Bend Hook with a 1-ounce tungsten weight.

St. Lawrence Day 3: 2017 through 2019 – a comparison

As noted since Day 1, this year’s Elite Series tournament, as predicted by the anglers, isn’t matching the record-breaking totals from last year’s event on the St. Lawrence River. You can’t expect to have “the greatest smallmouth tournament in the history of man,” as the 2018 event was deemed, every year.

But a trend continues to be revealed in the numbers: This year’s tournament totals are exceeding what were then considered eye-popping numbers from 2017. The St. Lawrence River is proving its ranking as the No. 1 bass fishery in the U.S., according to Bassmaster magazine. 

The following are the Day 3 totals from the last three years of Elite Series tournaments:

St. Lawrence River – Day 3 – 2017-2019

Limits caught514735
Total bass weighed-in255242175
Total weight917-6914-4649-1
Average weight per bass3.603.783.71
Big bag23-12 23-923-15
Big bass5-85-146-0
Bags of 20lbs or more13219
10th place60-8 66-861-11
20th place56-963-657-11
35th place53-1058-1352-15

Top 10 cutline prediction: 61 pounds

This week's Elite Series tournament has fished strikingly similar to the 2017 event on the St. Lawrence River. That tournament two years ago provided a fairly accurate gauge for the Top 35 cut yesterday. In 2017, 35th place after two days was 36-3; yesterday it was 36-14.

In 2017, 10th place after three days was 60-8. So the semi-educated guess on 10th place today should be somewhere in that neighborhood. Let's say 61 pounds.