By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Day 1 of competition at the Cayuga Lake Bassmaster Elite Series got off to a real rough start for Chris Zaldain. It got a lot better as it went on.

Zaldain, who discovered in the pre-dawn hours at the ramp in Union Springs, N.Y. that his boat had been broken into overnight and half of his rods had been stolen, used some backup sticks to compile a 24-05 stringer that topped the field. Still in search of his first full-field Elite victory, the 9th-place finisher last week at the St. Lawrence River is gunning for his third straight top-10 showing and fourth of the season.

Fellow competitors Ed Loughran and Caleb Sumrall, bunking in the same location as Zaldain, also had equipment pilfered.

"The rods that got taken were my starting lineup, so I had to scramble and make do with what I had left," Zaldain said. "It was a total hit-and-run deal they took a few from each boat."

Canadian Jeff Gustafson caught a 23-11 bag to grab the No. 2 position. Scott Canterbury, the Angler of the Year points leader who finished 3rd at the St. Lawrence, assumed that same slot with a 22-14 haul.

Chad Pipkens was next with 22-08, followed by Steve Kennedy (6th last week) with 22-04. The remainder of the initial top 10 was comprised of David Mullins (22-01), Stetson Blaylock (21-13), Clifford Pirch (21-10), Seth Feider (21-08) and Paul Mueller (20-14).

An 8-01 monster caught by Derek Hudnall took big-fish honors for the day. However, Hudnall managed just two additional keepers 43rd place with 15-14.

The overcast conditions and relatively stiff breeze may have fueled the day-1 bite, which was better than many expected based on some anglers' practice observations. Fourteen of the 75 competitors surpassed 20 pounds and the top 50 weighed at least 15.

Similar weather conditions are on tap for day 2, when the field will be cut to the top 35. Only the top 10 will advance to Sunday's final round.

Zaldain said he did very little actual fishing during practice, instead spending his time attempting to find "extraordinary" grass lines and other types of structure.

"When I did fish, I caught some really good ones," he said. "I knew the quality was there, but there wasn't a lot of quantity.

"Today I got five of the right bites and I have no idea whether I can do that again tomorrow. If I can get five or six bites and get them in the boat, I know they're going to weigh good. It's just one here and one there; when a fish pulls up to a spot, it's there to feed and it's typically a big one. I'm just sticking and moving and covering water."

The biggest fish on his stringer was a 5 1/4-pounder and the other four weren't much smaller.

"I'm doing a little bit of both (fishing shallow and deep). There's a couple key ingredients that if they line up, I'll have a good day."



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

Jeff Gustafson is in his element at Cayuga using his graphs to locate quality fish offshore.

Gustafson's bag was headed up by a 5 1/2-pounder and none of the remaining quartet registered under 4.

"I wasn't expecting to catch that," he said. "I had a decent practice and today I leaned on some of those spots and they were maybe a little better than what I'd thought.

"I'm fishing offshore, using my Humminbirds; a lot of these tournaments that I do better in I'm able to do that."

He had company some of his locales, but his was the only boat on others.

"Tomorrow I'll have a little better idea of how good those spots really are I don't know if today I got kind of lucky or if my program's really that solid. It's not like pulling up on a spot on Kentucky Lake and just catching one after another. There were a few spots where I caught two fish, but most if it is just grinding out one here and one there."

Canterbury didn't get many bites in practice and that had him somewhat concerned. He caught 12 keepers on day 1.

"I had five really good bites," he said. "I caught a 5 1/2-pounder and I didn't lose any that I saw, but I was catching a lot of pickerel so I don't know what a few of them were.

"I'm just fishing a big grass flat and there's nothing particularly special about it. The crowding wasn't too bad; there were just a couple other boats in there."

Pipkens is playing the numbers game he went through about three dozen keepers to collect four fish in the 4 1/2-pound class and a heavy 3.

"I'm fishing away from the bank," he said. "On a couple stretches there's some other boats milling around, but on a couple others I didn't see another boat for a few hundred yards, at least. I didn't catch multiple big ones in any one place and the places where I caught the big ones, I didn't catch them there in practice.

"A lot of the fish are just swimming around and when they set up on a place, you can catch them. You just don't know if it's going to be a pound-and-a-halfer, a pickerel or a 5-pounder."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 75 anglers, 64 limits, 3 fours, 5 threes, 1 two, 2 ones.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., Aug. 23 Partly Cloudy 72/51
- Wind: From the NW at 9 mph

> Sat., Aug. 24 Mostly Sunny 72/53
- Wind: From the SE at 6 mph

> Sun., Aug. 25 Mostly Sunny 77/56
- Wind: From the SE at 6 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 5, 24-05 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 24-05

2. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, ON -- 5, 23-11 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 23-11

3. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 5, 22-14 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 22-14

4. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 5, 22-08 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 22-08

5. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 22-04 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 22-04

6. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 5, 22-01 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 22-01

7. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 5, 21-13 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 21-13

8. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 5, 21-10 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 21-10

9. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 5, 21-08 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 21-08

10. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 5, 20-14 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 20-14

11. Patrick Walters -- Summerville, SC -- 5, 20-11 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 20-11

12. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 5, 20-04 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 20-04

12. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 5, 20-04 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 20-04

14. Lee Livesay -- Gladewater, TX -- 5, 20-02 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 20-02

15. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 5, 19-15 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 19-15

16. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 5, 19-09 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 19-09

17. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 5, 19-08 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 19-08

18. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 5, 19-06 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 19-06

19. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 5, 19-05 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 19-05

20. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 5, 19-02 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 19-02

21. Mike Huff -- Corbin, KY -- 5, 19-01 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 19-01

22. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 5, 18-14 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 18-14

22. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 5, 18-14 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 18-14

24. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 18-13 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 18-13

25. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 18-02 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 18-02

26. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 5, 17-09 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 17-09

27. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 5, 17-06 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 17-06

28. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 5, 17-05 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 17-05

29. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 5, 17-00 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 17-00

30. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 16-15 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 16-15

31. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 5, 16-14 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 16-14

32. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 5, 16-13 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 16-13

33. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 16-11 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 16-11

33. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 5, 16-11 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 16-11

35. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 5, 16-10 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 16-10

36. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 5, 16-04 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 16-04

37. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 16-03 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 16-03

37. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 5, 16-03 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 16-03

39. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 5, 16-01 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 16-01

39. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 5, 16-01 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 16-01

41. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 5, 15-15 -- 60
Day 1: 5, 15-15

42. Shane LeHew -- Catawba, NC -- 5, 15-14 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 15-14

43. Derek Hudnall -- Baton Rouge, LA -- 3, 15-14 -- 58
Day 1: 3, 15-14

44. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 5, 15-12 -- 57
Day 1: 5, 15-12

45. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 5, 15-11 -- 56
Day 1: 5, 15-11

46. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 5, 15-09 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 15-09

47. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 5, 15-08 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 15-08

48. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 5, 15-07 -- 53
Day 1: 5, 15-07

49. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON -- 5, 15-04 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 15-04

50. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 5, 15-01 -- 51
Day 1: 5, 15-01

51. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 5, 14-15 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 14-15

52. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 14-14 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 14-14

52. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 5, 14-14 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 14-14

52. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 14-14 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 14-14

55. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 5, 14-12 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 14-12

56. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 5, 14-05 -- 45
Day 1: 5, 14-05

56. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 5, 14-05 -- 45
Day 1: 5, 14-05

58. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 13-11 -- 43
Day 1: 5, 13-11

59. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 13-05 -- 42
Day 1: 5, 13-05

60. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 5, 13-01 -- 41
Day 1: 5, 13-01

61. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 5, 12-13 -- 40
Day 1: 5, 12-13

62. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 5, 12-05 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 12-05

63. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 4, 11-10 -- 38
Day 1: 4, 11-10

64. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 11-09 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 11-09

65. Rob Digh -- Denver, NC -- 5, 11-02 -- 36
Day 1: 5, 11-02

66. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS -- 3, 10-15 -- 35
Day 1: 3, 10-15

67. Harvey Horne -- Bella Vista, AR -- 4, 10-09 -- 34
Day 1: 4, 10-09

68. Jesse Tacoronte -- Kissimmee, FL -- 4, 09-10 -- 33
Day 1: 4, 09-10

69. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 2, 09-09 -- 32
Day 1: 2, 09-09

70. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 5, 09-00 -- 31
Day 1: 5, 09-00

71. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 3, 07-15 -- 30
Day 1: 3, 07-15

72. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 3, 06-02 -- 29
Day 1: 3, 06-02

73. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 3, 05-07 -- 28
Day 1: 3, 05-07

74. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 1, 02-11 -- 27
Day 1: 1, 02-11

75. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 1, 01-13 -- 26
Day 1: 1, 01-13