By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

With three consecutive top-10 finishes on his ledger and four on the season, Chris Zaldain has become a mainstay at the top of Bassmaster Elite Series leaderboard. Now he's set his sights on claiming his first full-field victory.

The Texas resident by way of California caught a 13-15 bag on day 2 at Oklahoma's Lake Tenkiller to move into the lead at the halfway point with 25 pounds even. His haul consisted of four smallmouths and one spotted bass.

"I caught them all on finesse stuff, and I'm right at home doing that," he said. "It's so tough to get a bite, but I'm real comfortable fishing those tactics."

Brandon Card moved up five places to 2nd with an 11-15 bag that gave him a 24-11 total. Standout rookie Drew Cook climbed 21 slots to 3rd with a 13-07 stringer for a 23-05 aggregate.

Day-1 leader Stetson Blaylock weighed 7-09 less than half of what he caught on day 1, and dropped into a 4th-place tie with Kyle Monti and Cory Johnston with 23-02. Monti boxed four fish for 8-14 on the day and Johnston scaled 9-14.

Caleb Sumrall (7-13 on day 2, 22-06 total), Harvey Horne (11-07, 22-00), Frank Talley (14-08, 21-11) and Lee Livesay (10-02, 21-08) completed the top 10. Talley's bag was the heaviest of the day and moved him up 32 places.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

A big bite each day has propelled Brandon Card into the No. 2 position at the halfway point.

The grayer, cooler weather was appreciated by the competitors from a comfort standpoint and helped some of them catch bigger sacks than they'd brought in the previous day, but it didn't have a major positive impact on the overall bite. The number of stringers weighing 12 pounds or more dropped from 11 to 10 and it took just a 16-05 total to make the cut to the top 35.

Three anglers who were among the top 10 after day 1 fell entirely out of the cut. Kelley Jaye went from tied for 8th to 38th with two fish for 3-07, Gary Clouse dropped from tied for 8th to 54th with an empty bag and Quentin Cappo plummeted from 10th to 44th with two fish for 2-06.

The cloudy conditions are expected to persist throughout the weekend, with some thunderstorms predicted for Sunday's final round.

Zaldain spent about half the day in a single area trying to learn how fish were reacting to the weather change. Once he felt he'd learned all he could, he took his knowledge to other areas and caught the four quality smallmouths that topped his bag (he also weighed in a smaller spot).

"I could look at my Lakemaster and call my shots when you go 4-for-4, that's a definite pattern," he said. "I had all those fish by about noon or so and then I kept expanding, trying to find other stuff that'll help carry me through."

His biggest fish weighed 3-10.

"What I'm most excited about is this weather is supposed to stick around for us. I'm just going to stay the course and keep expanding; in order to win these four-day tournaments you have to keep adapting to the weather and what the lake has to offer. I invested some of my tournament time in learning and it paid off today."

Card's bags have been bolstered by big largemouths he had a 4-pounder on the first day and a 4-10 on day 2.

I caught them both from the same area," he said. "For whatever reason, that place seems to be holding some bigger fish."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Drew Cook moved up 21 places on day 2 with a 13-07 bag.

He primarily relied on soft plastics on day 1, but a topwater bait was his most effective weapon on day 2. He's fishing shallow to mid-depth water and took three largemouths and two spots to the scale.

"I had another big bite that I lost a 4-pounder," he said. "Knowing you're around some big fish helps your confidence. I just have to capitalize and put them in the boat."

Cook has gotten five keeper bites each day. A 4-pounder on his day-2 stringer was the impetus for his big jump in the standings. His sack contained four largemouths and a spot, all enticed by a Nichols Lures Drew Benton Finesse Jig.

One shallow area has produced the majority of his fish and to his knowledge, no one else has been on it.

"I caught all the largemouths in the first two hours, then it was a couple hours later when I caught my spotted bass," he said. "I don't know if it was an early deal or there just happened to be four sitting up there that I caught."

Blaylock figured that the altered atmospheric conditions would improve his bite, but that didn't happen. His best area from day 1 was entirely unproductive.

A 2 1/4-pound largemouth was his biggest specimen on day 2. He also weighed a smallmouth and three spots.

"I expected it to be different, but I didn't realize it would be tougher," he said. "A couple of guys caught them better, but overall it was a down day.

"I'll check (his best day-1 area) again tomorrow, but I'm not going to spend much time there. If I don't get bit, I'll move on, or maybe I'll start somewhere different and go to it later. I need to do stuff to catch bigger fish I kind of messed up today by trying to catch the little ones."

Notable

> Day 2 stats 75 anglers, 39 limits (3 fewer than day 1), 14 fours, 10 threes, 8 twos, 1 one, 3 zeroes (1 more than day 1).

Weather Forecast

> Sat., Sept. 21 AM Clouds, PM Sun 86/69
- Wind: From the S at 12 mph

> Sun., Sept. 22 Scattered T-Storms 80/64
- Wind: From the SSW at 11 mph

Day 2 Standings

1. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 10, 25-00 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 11-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15

2. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 10, 24-11 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 5, 11-15

3. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 10, 23-05 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 09-14 -- Day 2: 5, 13-07

4. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 10, 23-02 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 15-09 -- Day 2: 5, 07-09

5. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 9, 23-02 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 14-04 -- Day 2: 4, 08-14

6. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 10, 23-02 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 09-14

7. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 10, 22-06 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 14-09 -- Day 2: 5, 07-13

8. Harvey Horne -- Bella Vista, AR -- 9, 22-00 -- 93
Day 1: 4, 10-09 -- Day 2: 5, 11-07

9. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 9, 21-11 -- 92
Day 1: 4, 07-03 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08

10. Lee Livesay -- Gladewater, TX -- 10, 21-08 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 11-06 -- Day 2: 5, 10-02

11. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 8, 20-13 -- 90
Day 1: 3, 06-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-00

12. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 10, 20-12 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 07-05 -- Day 2: 5, 13-07

13. Shane LeHew -- Catawba, NC -- 10, 20-11 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 06-12 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15

14. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 10, 20-06 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 10-02 -- Day 2: 5, 10-04

15. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS -- 9, 19-15 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 13-11 -- Day 2: 4, 06-04

16. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 9, 19-11 -- 85
Day 1: 4, 06-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10

17. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 10, 19-10 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 07-07 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03

18. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 10, 19-07 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 10-15 -- Day 2: 5, 08-08

19. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 10, 19-07 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 10-15 -- Day 2: 5, 08-08

20. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 10, 19-05 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 09-06 -- Day 2: 5, 09-15

21. Mike Huff -- Corbin, KY -- 10, 19-03 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 10-13 -- Day 2: 5, 08-06

22. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 9, 19-00 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 08-00 -- Day 2: 4, 11-00

23. Jesse Tacoronte -- Kissimmee, FL -- 8, 18-12 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 14-03 -- Day 2: 3, 04-09

24. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 10, 18-10 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 09-11 -- Day 2: 5, 08-15

25. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 8, 18-03 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 08-11 -- Day 2: 3, 09-08

26. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 8, 17-14 -- 75
Day 1: 3, 07-10 -- Day 2: 5, 10-04

27. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 10, 17-11 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 10-11 -- Day 2: 5, 07-00

28. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 9, 17-08 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 10-14 -- Day 2: 4, 06-10

29. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 10, 17-08 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 08-15 -- Day 2: 5, 08-09

30. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 7, 17-04 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 12-00 -- Day 2: 2, 05-04

31. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 10, 16-15 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 08-02 -- Day 2: 5, 08-13

32. Patrick Walters -- Summerville, SC -- 10, 16-10 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 10-11 -- Day 2: 5, 05-15

33. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 8, 16-10 -- 68
Day 1: 3, 06-02 -- Day 2: 5, 10-08

34. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 6, 16-08 -- 67
Day 1: 1, 04-06 -- Day 2: 5, 12-02

35. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON -- 8, 16-05 -- 66
Day 1: 4, 08-00 -- Day 2: 4, 08-05

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 3.

36. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 8, 15-14 -- 65 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 09-15 -- Day 2: 3, 05-15

37. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 10, 15-13 -- 64 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 06-09 -- Day 2: 5, 09-04

38. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 7, 15-10 -- 63 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 12-03 -- Day 2: 2, 03-07

39. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 9, 15-07 -- 62 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 09-11 -- Day 2: 4, 05-12

40. Derek Hudnall -- Baton Rouge, LA -- 10, 15-01 -- 61 -- $5,000
Day 1: 5, 07-04 -- Day 2: 5, 07-13

41. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 10, 14-13 -- 60 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 08-11 -- Day 2: 5, 06-02

42. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 9, 14-12 -- 59 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 09-11 -- Day 2: 4, 05-01

43. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 9, 14-10 -- 58 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 07-12 -- Day 2: 4, 06-14

44. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 7, 14-07 -- 57 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-01 -- Day 2: 2, 02-06

45. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 8, 14-01 -- 56 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 05-00 -- Day 2: 5, 09-01

46. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON -- 9, 13-13 -- 55 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 09-08 -- Day 2: 4, 04-05

47. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 7, 13-11 -- 54 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-08 -- Day 2: 5, 11-03

48. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 7, 13-09 -- 53 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 09-14 -- Day 2: 2, 03-11

49. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 7, 13-02 -- 52 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 08-12 -- Day 2: 3, 04-06

50. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 9, 12-14 -- 51 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 07-02 -- Day 2: 5, 05-12

51. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 8, 12-11 -- 50 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 07-01 -- Day 2: 3, 05-10

52. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 6, 12-07 -- 49 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 02-05 -- Day 2: 5, 10-02

53. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 6, 12-07 -- 48 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 03-04 -- Day 2: 5, 09-03

54. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 5, 12-03 -- 47 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 12-03 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00

55. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 8, 11-15 -- 46 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 03-10 -- Day 2: 5, 08-05

56. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 6, 11-09 -- 45 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 02-14 -- Day 2: 5, 08-11

57. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 9, 11-09 -- 44 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 06-08 -- Day 2: 4, 05-01

58. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 6, 11-09 -- 43 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 05-08 -- Day 2: 3, 06-01

59. Rob Digh -- Denver, NC -- 6, 11-08 -- 42 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 07-00 -- Day 2: 2, 04-08

60. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 7, 10-12 -- 41 -- $2,500
Day 1: 3, 05-09 -- Day 2: 4, 05-03

61. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 4, 10-09 -- 40 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 01-01 -- Day 2: 3, 09-08

62. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 9, 10-05 -- 39 -- $2,500
Day 1: 5, 04-13 -- Day 2: 4, 05-08

63. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 7, 09-05 -- 38 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 03-15 -- Day 2: 3, 05-06

64. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 6, 08-13 -- 37 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 03-02 -- Day 2: 4, 05-11

65. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 5, 08-10 -- 36 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-14 -- Day 2: 3, 05-12

66. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 6, 08-10 -- 35 -- $2,500
Day 1: 4, 04-03 -- Day 2: 2, 04-07

67. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 6, 08-07 -- 34 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-04 -- Day 2: 4, 06-03

68. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 5, 08-06 -- 33 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-01 -- Day 2: 3, 06-05

69. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 5, 07-13 -- 32 -- $2,500
Day 1: 0, 00-00 -- Day 2: 5, 07-13

70. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 3, 07-06 -- 31 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 04-15 -- Day 2: 1, 02-07

71. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 5, 06-13 -- 30 -- $2,500
Day 1: 0, 00-00 -- Day 2: 5, 06-13

72. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 3, 06-07 -- 29 -- $2,500
Day 1: 1, 01-09 -- Day 2: 2, 04-14

73. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 2, 05-06 -- 28 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 05-06 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00

74. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 4, 05-03 -- 27 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-00 -- Day 2: 2, 03-03

75. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 2, 02-01 -- 26 -- $2,500
Day 1: 2, 02-01 -- Day 2: 0, 00-00