Chris Zaldain has had more days of Elite Series competition over the last three tournaments than his other Angler of the Year competitors. And he thinks that's important.
"I'm hot - three top 10s in a row," said Zaldain after his second-place finish at Oklahoma's Lake Tenkiller on Sept. 22. "The more time I spend on the water, the deadlier I get, the better decisions I make. I've stayed sharp."
To quote Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Also working in Zaldain's favor at Lake St. Clair is the fact that he concentrated on smallmouth bass at Tenkiller, when largemouths and spotted bass were also in play.
"I'm in smallmouth mode," he said. "I've been in smallmouth mode the last couple of months."
Granted it doesn't sound like a big difference, but for comparison's sake, Zaldain's 12 competition days over the last three events are two more than Scott Canterbury, who made the Day 2 cut at Cayuga and Tenkiller, but not the Day 3 top 10 cut, and two more than Chris Johnston, who missed the Day 2 cut at the St. Lawrence River.
Johnston's plenty sharp though. If you remember, he would have been in contention for the title at the St. Lawrence River, if not for a "brain freeze" that led to a 7-pound late penalty there. And he fished all four days at Cayuga in finishing 7th and all four days at Tenkiller in finishing 3rd.
Although Stetson Blaylock has the biggest hill to climb, 4th in the AOY race, trailing Canterbury by 20 points, he's sharp too. Blaylock has fished 11 of the possible 12 competition days, finishing 23rd at the St. Lawrence River, 8th at Cayuga and 8th at Tenkiller.