A Year to Remember: Chris Zaldain on his 2019 Bassmaster Elite Season

Category: article

 Jan 20th, 2020 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Jan 20th, 2020 at 10:03 AM

A Year to Remember: Chris Zaldain on his 2019 Bassmaster Elite Season

In his 8th season, Chris Zaldain laid down a performance for the storybooks in the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series. With three 2nd place finishes, five top tens, a 4th place finish in Angler of the Year points and the most total weight caught throughout the season, Zaldain had the kind of year most anglers only dream of. The fact that the 2019 season was his first season running the One-Boat Network™ with Humminbird® and Minn Kota® products should be no surprise and was quickly credited by the Texas pro as an instrumental factor in his success.

“The most advantageous piece of equipment I had on my boat this year was no doubt the Humminbird 360 Imaging and a close second was LakeMaster mapping,” explained Zaldain.

“I had three second-place finishes this year, and the one that sticks out the most to me was my second-place finish at Lake Lanier. I was catching huge spotted bass, a lot of which were suspended over trees in literally 50 to 60 feet of water. I was getting my bites in 40 to 50 feet of water. There is absolutely no way I would have had the confidence to fish that program without 360 Imaging.” Hear more about that event in this Bassmaster article and video.

Zaldain went on to emphasize how the Humminbird technologies have changed his technique this season. Originally a California kid, he comes from a Western background, so he has always felt somewhat comfortable fishing off the bank in deep, clear water. But he felt especially confident out there this year. “360 Imaging absolutely changed the way I fish. I spent a vast majority of my time fishing off the bank.”

“I don’t remember in eight years of tournament fishing where I spent the majority of my time out there. But with 360 Imaging, nothing was able to hide from me at any point, which gave me the confidence to stay out in those unpressured areas,” offered Zaldain.

It can be challenging to stay out in those unpressured areas for long periods of time. Zaldain explained how useful his Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor was when it came to locking in on perfect offshore fishing spots.

“The Spot-Lock feature on my Minn Kota Ultrex was another huge contributor to my confidence in unpressured areas this tournament season. Once I found offshore spots I liked, I was able to accurately lock my boat to the exact area without fail,” commented Zaldain.

“All I had to do was push a button on my Ultrex, and Spot-Lock made sure my boat didn’t drift from the hot spots I found. If I needed to move or adjust, I was able to do so with ease using the Jog feature moving my Spot-Lock position in 5 foot increments to where I needed to be.”

But it wasn’t just 360 Imaging or the Ultrex with Spot-Lock that took his confidence to the next level. Combining these products with Humminbird LakeMaster mapping offered new locations and destinations he could be confident in, helping him take home third place at the St. Lawrence River.

“This was my fourth year competing on the St. Lawrence, but it was so different than years prior. LakeMaster mapping exposed areas that I’d never seen before and I was able to commit to a long 90-mile run to the mouth of Lake Ontario.”

“Covering 180 miles each day only left me with five or so hours to fish, you need to be confident to be able to settle in on one area so far away from the ramp. Relying on LakeMaster’s pinpoint accuracy and confirming what I saw with 360 Imaging gave me enough confidence to stay down there. I found humps and drop-offs I hadn’t seen before and was able to get a few extra bites and take home that 3rd place finish.” says Zaldain.

An extra bite or two can make a world of difference in tournament fishing. LakeMaster mapping was key to helping Zaldain and others on the Humminbird team find areas where they could connect on those key bites and secure top finishes this year. The ability to accurately select your casting locations once on the spot also saves casts and is giving today’s competitive anglers the ability to use their time more efficiently on the water.

“A lot of times this year I would find myself fishing in the same areas as Keith Combs, Seth Feider and other guys who also run the LakeMaster chip. Certain hot-spot areas stick out like a sore thumb to those guys. But others who were running different mapping cards just couldn’t find those areas. Being able to locate hot areas that other guys couldn’t led those of us on the Humminbird team to some really, really solid finishes.”

Zaldain placed in the top 10 the majority of his 33 competition days this year, including the three second place finishes he mentioned, and one third-place finish. He attributes this success not only to Humminbird 360 imaging and the LakeMaster chip, but also his use of some of the connected capabilities of the One-Boat Network.

“This was the first time in my Elite Series career that my electronics, trolling motor, and shallow water anchors all talk to each other, and it made my life a whole lot easier. Wherever I was in my boat, I could look down at a screen, see waypoints that I placed and get to work. When you can control your Ultrex trolling motor or Talons right from any Humminbird unit, it really unlocks a new level of efficiency. Even in my first season using these products, I quickly came to learn how to get the most out of the network.”

Looking back at Zaldain’s 2019 Elite Series season, efficiency and execution are two words that come to mind. Four top-five finishes confirm this was his most successful year in tournament fishing thus far.

“This was an amazing year,” finished Zaldain. “But I truly believe I’ve only begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the capabilities of the One-Boat Network. I’m already working on rigging my boat for 2020 and you can bet I’ll be putting the best from both Minn Kota and Humminbird back to work on the Elite Series next season.”

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