B.A.S.S. Reporter’s Notebook: KVD in the car wash; What drives California pro Chris Zaldain

Category: press release

 Mar 1st, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Mar 1st, 2011 at 12:00 AM

KVD in the car wash: Last week Kevin VanDam completed a flurry of ESPN show appearances. Called the “car wash,” it’s something every Bassmaster Classic winner in recent years has been through.

KVD (Photo BassFIRST)

As a four-time Classic champ, VanDam has been to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., several times to run the gantlet of high-profile interviews. He was there in August 2010 after he won his sixth Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

When he returned Feb. 24 as the 2011 Classic champ, he appeared on Mike & Mike, First Take, ESPN.com Page 2, SportsCenter and SportsNation.

Live on SportsCenter, he didn’t miss a beat.

“Why do you catch more and bigger fish than anybody else?” the host asked in the 3-minute-plus interview.

“I don’t always,” said VanDam. “This weekend I made it all work out. I’ve got 21 years of experience now fishing professionally, and over that time I’ve learned a lot about how the bass react. A lot of people think there’s a lot of luck in fishing, and there really isn’t.”

What drives California pro Chris Zaldain: “Help make me a superstar.” Perhaps Chris Zaldain was joking when he made the declaration to a reporter who requested an interview after he finished seventh in a Bassmaster tournament last week. But the California angler is very serious about becoming a full-time pro.

Having fished ponds as a kid and competed on big California fisheries since he was a teen, Zaldain, 26, now wants to qualify for the top level of competition. In his book, that’s the Bassmaster Elite Series.

“I’m at the point in my career where I’d love to compete in the Elite Series,” he said. “I’ve been fishing the FLW circuit for four years now, and I feel it’s time to step up to the (Open) level and try for the Elite qualification and the Classic berth you can win.”

One of his first tests as an Open angler was the 1,700-mile drive from his home in San Jose, Calif., to Lewisville, Texas, for the Feb. 24-26 season opener of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens. It was a 25-hour grind, but he made it without incident. It wasn’t his first trip to other parts of the country; he’s fished as far east as the rivers that run through Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Lewisville Lake event was his first Bassmaster pro entry. He had competed as a Bassmaster co-angler in 2004-2005 when B.A.S.S. brought several events to the West Coast. In those tournaments, Zaldain said, he learned from many pros, including Ish Monroe, Robert Lee, Jared Lintner and others Zaldain called “West Coast legends.” He’s never met Skeet Reese, but Zaldain has followed his career for years and learned from him, too.

Zaldain was a successful co-angler, cashing a check in every event he entered. His turning point was winning a boat in 2005.

“I used that boat to learn how to operate one,” he said. “I started to fish local pro-ams. Bassmaster no longer came out to California, so I fished the FLW National Guard Series. I qualified for the FLW Forest Wood Cup for four years in a row through the series. Now I feel it’s time to try for the Elite Series.”

He figures he’ll have to produce two more Top 12s to get one of the Elite Series invitations B.A.S.S. will extend to the top five pros in the points standings after the three-event season ends in September. For the first time, a 2012 Classic entry is being awarded to the winner of each of the nine Open events (three in each Open division).

Coincidentally, the Central Open season will conclude Sept. 10, the day before Zaldain’s 27th birthday.

“To win one then and make the Classic and make the Elites would be awesome,” he said.

Women are making their mark in the Opens: Janet Parker, Lisa Sternard, Jan Heavener, Sabrina Thompson and Debra Hengst are among the former Women’s Bassmaster Tour anglers who now compete in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open tour.

Janet Parker (Photo B.A.S.S.)

At last week’s Open on Lewisville Lake in Texas, Parker of Little Elm, Texas, posted a sixth-place finish in a field of 159 pros. She made it into the exclusive Top 12 cut for the final day.

It was two successful cuts in a row for Parker. She had finished inside the cut at the final event of 2010, her first Open season, at 26th place (at the time, the cut was the Top 30).

On the final day, she hooked into what felt like dead weight.

“She wasn’t moving; I thought I had a limb. I started reeling in (and realized) it was a huge fish. She came up and threw it,” said Parker, who was fishing with a jig.

Parker won a 2009 Women’s Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Ouachita out of West Monroe, La. Other than the win, last Saturday’s finish was the third Top 10 of her Bassmaster career. She’s aiming to be the first woman to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

For Hengst, competing in the tournament was a victory in itself. Being treated for breast cancer, she was stiff and sore from two surgeries, the first phase of her battle. Hengst’s determination to fish in the tournament was the topic of a story by David Hunter Jones, senior writer for Bassmaster Magazine. Click here to read it on Bassmaster.com.

Expo Angels come through again: Mark Fisher and Joe Crosby put a plastic cup on the front table of their Wiley X booth, stuffed some dollar bills in it, and invited people to contribute toward building a playground at Tulane Hospital for Children in New Orleans.

Over three days during the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, the green cup had to be emptied time after time. In all, $444 was collected and donated to the playground fund via the little cup.

The cash was on top of the donations of tackle and goodies that the two men collected from fellow show exhibitors. Moved by a story on Bassmaster.com about the Angel Anglers’ visit to Tulane, on their day off Fisher and Crosby went booth to booth and asked for small items to send to the kids.

They ended up with a stack of  goodies from many exhibitors, including Skeeter, Pure Fishing, Eagle Claw, Booyah, Zebco, Plano, Seaguar, Top Brass, Evinrude, Navionics, TroKar, Vicious, B.A.S.S. and Wiley X.

New sponsor deals: Among the most recent new deals for Elite Series pros as they approach the March 10-13 Sunshine Showdown, the season opener on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes:


Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala.: Megabass and Phoenix Boats

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.: Costa Del Mar sunglasses

Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.: Lazer TroKar hooks

Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif.: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Tim Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala.: Lew’s reels

Jason Williamson, Aiken, S.C.: McCoy line

Catch The Bassmasters on ESPN2: The Bassmasters TV show airs on ESPN2 at 8 a.m. ET on Sundays.

Another ESPN channel, ESPN Classic, will air The Bassmasters at 10 a.m. ET on Sundays.

The free fun of Fantasy Fishing: The 2011 season of B.A.S.S. Fantasy Fishing is in full gear with many prizes still to be awarded.

After each 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament, the fantasy fan leading in points will win a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift certificate. At the end of the season, the B.A.S.S. Fantasy Fishing champ will win the grand prize of a trip for two to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic plus a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card.

Round No. 1 based on the 2011 Bassmaster Classic is finished. Next up is the Bassmaster Elite Series season opener, the March 10-13 Sunshine Showdown in Florida.

Playing is free and fun. To get started, go to the Fantasy Fishing pages of Bassmaster.com, or simply click on the Fantasy Fishing link at the top of the Bassmaster.com home page. Step-by-step, intuitive instructions help players set their teams.

Left reeling
: “I lost my favorite bait to one of about 9 pounds. It came up and jumped beside the boat. When that fish broke me off, it was the only (Smithwick) Rogue I had of that color.” – Mark Tucker of St. Louis, Mo., who despite the lost fish and lost key bait is elated to be a first-time Bassmaster winner in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open in Lewisville, Texas, on Feb. 26. He also won a 2012 Bassmaster Classic berth.

About B.A.S.S.

For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.


The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications – Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times – comprehensive website Bassmaster.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.


The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.


B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.



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