As legendary Bassmaster writer Steve Wright already briefly mentioned, Chris Zaldain woke up this morning to find his rod and bait lockers raided by some no-good selfish jackleg.
But true to form of the Chris Zaldain I know, he quickly shook it off, was all smiles at take-off this morning in the midst of his misfortune—and he went fishing.
And a fantastic morning it’s been for him. BASSTrakk has him unofficially close to 19 pounds, which is a great start on Cayuga. And he is (unofficially) at the top of the leaderboard, although Stetson Blaylock is rumored to have close to 20 pounds ...
Zaldain enjoyed a solid finish last week at St. Lawrence, which helped him climb up the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year leaderboard.
He is persevering and rolling with the punches. Plus he’s within striking distance of the most respected title in all of bass fishing.
In addition to Zaldain’s quality showings this season, he’s worked very hard to build his personal brand and fully support Bassmaster through an interesting time. Standing at his side through all of it has been his wife Trait, also a professional angler. Together they are a very dynamic team who are near the top of the list of anglers deserving a blue Bassmaster championship trophy.
However, as we all know, “deserves” has nothing to do with it. When he beats the 75-angler field, he’ll earn his trophy—and the Zaldains wouldn’t have it any other way.
Today his focus is evident in the midst of his early morning discovery. That speaks to the man, his support system (Trait) and his tenacity as a top competitor in the highest level of competitive bass fishing.
Zaldain is a leader.
What’s more, the outpouring of support from other competitors and his many fans was very encouraging. Anglers like Carl Jocumsen, Jake Whitaker, Micah Frazier, Seth Feider, among others, voiced their support and offered gear to help him get back on his feet.
To me, that’s just another example of many that speaks to the quality of men that make up the 2019 Elite Series field.
The environment is awesome, the camaraderie is more evident than ever before. It’s like a band of brothers who are hard-nosed competitors until the final bell rings each day, but they are there to pick each other up when they fall.
This is Bassmaster.
And Zaldain is there among the best of them, both on and off the water. An example for us all to learn from.
You can’t help but root for the young veteran this week. While it’s early, perhaps it’s his week.
Chin down, dude. Your day is coming.