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Lessons Learned at Winyah Bay

Posted by admin on April 13, 2016


I’m on my way to the next stop of the 2016 Elite Series season at Bull Shoals/Norfork Lake.  I hung around to get a couple more things done to the Tundra at Britt Myers’ shop.  They did a great job and now we’ve got the Tundra Suites completely ready to take on the rest of the season.  Huge congrats to Britt on the win at Winyah Bay!

Winyah Bay was a frustrating event for me.  Going into the event I knew the areas where I should be to do well and fished in some of them during practice where a lot of the top five guys ended up doing most of their damage.  I don’t know if I was just caught up in what I wanted to do and was too hard headed, but I did not end up fishing there.  I did however feel like I had found the right fish to have a very good event.  Execution seemed to be the difference for me.

The first day I went to punching mats and ended up losing a few fish that definitely ended up hurting me.  I brought in three that went for five pounds five ounces and was behind the eight ball some going in day two.  With it being a tough fishery, the good thing is that I knew having a big day on day two could put me right back into the top fifty one cut.

I ended up putting together a slightly better bag, almost doubling my day one weight, but once again could only put three in the livewell.  I caught them fairly early on punching with what has become my go to set up in tough situations.  I flipped an ounce and a half Eco Pro Tungsten weight with a punch skirt and a Green Pumpkin Purple Berkley Fight’n Bug on a 4/0 VMC Heavy Duty Flipping Hook.  That set up has really gotten me out of some jams in the past on fisheries where grass is present.


Even after doubling my weight from day one I only managed to move up about ten spots and was just out of the cut.  The guys seemed to really catch them on day two with more time to fish and there were a lot of flip flops going on in the standings where a guy had a couple fish day one and came in with a quality bag on day two.  After getting those three quick bites day two I went running around to places where I felt I could get a bite fairly easily when I should have stayed in that area and grinded it out.

Before Winyah, I fished the second Southern Open at Smith Lake in Alabama too.  It was my first time being there and I was excited because I felt like it sets up very well for the ways I like to fish.  It’s a deep clear lake with plenty of rock and while I don’t have a ton of experience chasing spotted bass, it also has a very healthy largemouth population.

After practice I had located some big schools of spots and with there being so many in that three to five pound range, I decided to target them.  I had trouble getting them to bite, but every once in awhile I could provoke one.  The problem was, they were here one day and gone the next.  I ended up having to take a shakyhead and fish the flatter points that extended out into the lake.  For me it didn’t really matter where and I ran new water every day.  The difficult part for me was catching any more than twelve or thirteen pounds.  I started off just outside check range on day one, but made a little charge and ended up cashing on day two.

It’s always good to cash in an Open, but the reason I fish them is to win and make the Classic.  I’m having to opt out of the final Southern at Douglas Lake, but will be back at it for the Northerns again in June.  There was a conflict with Douglas and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and with no entry fee and two hundred thousand on the line I decided to fish it instead.

As for Bull Shoals and Norfork Lake, I’m really started to get pumped for the event.  It’s one of the only lakes on the schedule aside from the Smith Lake Open that has rock contours and allows me to fish the way I like to fish, winding a crankbait around and having something to hit.  The first time we went there I was fortunate enough to win, so Bull Shoals definitely is a special place to me.  The next time, I felt like I had another chance to win after finding a lot of quality fish.  The weather changed up some and that fizzled on me somewhat and I ended up right outside the cut.  

This year they are throwing us a curveball with the format.  I’ve never been to Norfork before and definitely need to put some time in on it during practice.  In an perfect world I will fish Bull Shoals for one day and Norfork for the other three.  That’s my plan for now anyway.  I have an appearance coming up on Saturday at the Cabela’s in Rogers, Arkansas which I’m looking forward to, then get practice going on Sunday.  I’m really looking forward to getting this one started. -BP

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Elite Series Recap from the St. John's River

Posted by admin on March 22, 2016

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First Trip of the Season

Posted by admin on February 10, 2016

Brandon Palaniuk powered by Pro Sites Unlimited

I’m back in Idahome after a trip to Florida to kick off the Bassmaster Southern Open season at Lake Toho.  I made it down to Kissimmee, Florida late Tuesday night for the event.  With only Wednesday to practice I split my day at both Toho and Kissimmee.  After an unexciting morning at Toho I ran to Kissimmee to check it out.  I found pretty much the same story down there and planned to fish Toho all day on day one.  With my new boat in the break in period, I had to run 40mph most of the time I was there which further limited my practice.

After a tough morning again at Toho, I decided to make the run to Kissimmee and gamble on catching big ones.  I managed to catch three fish with one being the kind I wanted.  I had a seven pounder and two little barely keepers and dug myself a hole early on.  That seven pounder ended up being the highlight of trip.  Day two I swung for the fences again and just went fishing, trying to punch my way out of an early hole.  Once again I had a similar result, coming in with one shy of a limit. 

Brandon Palaniuk powered by Pro Sites UnlimitedWith the very brief practice time, I was never able to hone in on those finicky Florida bass.  Whenever I find myself not knowing which direction to go, I go to my Berkley Fight'n Bug.  It’s a little bait that has caught some big fish for me in the past and has dug me out of some holes.  It’s caught me multiple seven pound fish and even an eight the last time we were at Toledo Bend.  It’s always something I have out if it’s tough.  My set up for Toho consisted of the Fight'n Bug on a 4/0 VMC Flipping Hook with a 1.5oz Eco Pro Tungsten Weight.  I was punching a lot of mats and that set up was the best thing I had going.

After the Toho event, I met up with my friend Hunter Shryock to film some footage for the launch of some new Abu Garcia REVO spinning reels.  We managed to catch a few despite the cold and got some pretty cool footage as well.  It’s not too often I’m wielding a spinning rod in Florida!

I started making my way home afterwards, but stopped over in Texas to drop off my truck and boat to get wrapped and have a few more things done on the truck.  I’m excited about the new wrap for the season as it’ll be a little bit different look.  I can’t wait for my truck to be done as it’s been a couple months in the making, but as of now we are on schedule for the Classic so I can’t really complain. 

I am getting pumped for Grand Lake.  I was not able to get there to pre-practice and it’ll be the first time I’ve been on the lake since the 2013 Classic.  Honestly, that’s not always a bad thing.  Without thinking about what was before, I’m hoping it’ll let me have more of an open mind and be able to fish the conditions. -BP

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2015 Tournament Season Recap

Posted by admin on January 7, 2016

Brandon Palaniuk powered by Pro Sites Unlimited

The past month has been a busy one, but good one.  I just got done picking up my Tundra from the build shop in Texas for a Toyota commercial shoot back home.  My girlfriend and I drove down both my new and my old truck to Texas before the holidays.  My new truck was dropped off at the build shop and the other we used to pick up my new boat.  I was hoping to put the new boat on the water for some practice at Grand Lake before it went off limits but wasn’t able to because of the major flooding they were having.  I’m not sure how lucrative practice would have been anyway, a lot of the new products I planned to put on the boat were stuck on back order.

We flew home and ended up getting stuck in Seattle; they cancelled our flight to Idaho and had no other flights out.  I happened to run into a few of my buddies at the airport and we all decided to rent a car and drive home that night for Christmas Eve.  We went to my girlfriends parents on Christmas Eve and to my Parent’s on Christmas day.  It was a quick, but good, Christmas because I had to jump on another plane and fly out to Oklahoma City the day afterwards.  All the equipment needed to finish rigging the boat was still not available so I dumped the boat back at the factory and drove back to Idaho.  It’s definitely been a crazy December and first part of January.

Since we are in January and a new year is upon us, I thought it would be the perfect time to do a 2015 season recap.  Going into 2015, I was really excited about the schedule.  We were heading to a lot of places I have done well on in the past and some fisheries I have really liked.  B.A.S.S. did a great job creating a very diverse schedule that took us from as far East in the U.S. to as far West as we could go.  Honestly, I don’t mind driving coast to coast either.  Living in Idaho I drive long stretches to most fisheries.

Brandon Palaniuk powered by Pro Sites Unlimited

The season started at the Sabine River which I’ve always dreaded.  Going in I had some confidence in the fact that I had already fished it before.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any points there and put myself behind the eight ball to start the season.  Going from there to Guntersville, I knew I had gotten myself into trouble and would need to do well.  My chances of making the Classic depended on the next seven tournaments; I had to swing for the fence and try and make up some ground.  I did the math in my head and figured I needed at least a top thirty seven finish in each of the next seven events.  I ended up having a good practice on Guntersville and started off the tournament in 14th place.  The next day however, instead of fishing to win, I went and played it safe.  The end result was eleven and a half pounds and a missed day three cut.

Two tournaments in and far down in the points standings,  I decided then and there to not look at the points anymore and fish to catch the most possible weight each day.  This was definitely the turning point in my season.  I headed home to do a Toyota Bonus Bucks ad then hit the road to the Delta.  I was able to get things turned around a bit with a check and a 42nd place finish.  Not an exceptional finish, but I felt good about my decisions and took that momentum to Havasu with better pay off.  My practice was decent and I was able to fish very free during the actual tournament which took me to the final day cut.  All in all it was a good Western swing that got my season moving in the right direction. 

After the Western swing of the Elites I headed to the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.  The momentum carried on as I had another good event, making the final day cut.  I was making cuts and fishing with the right mindset heading into the next Elite at Kentucky Lake.

Practice for Kentucky Lake was not great.  I tried finding spots I could have to myself and not have to fish around three or more boats.  I got in a hole early in the tournament as I bounced around continuing to look for my own water, but never found it.  Sometimes you just have to fish where the fish are.  The second day, with an hour and a half left, I had about eleven pounds and I started idling around looking.  Finally, with about thirty minutes left, I found a wad of them and put about eighteen and a half pounds in the boat in fifteen minutes.  I missed the cut by about a pound, but that flurry saved me in the points and was the last of my iffy tournaments.

Coming into the next part of the season, I was pumped for smallmouth fisheries. We started off at the St. Lawrence River.  We couldn’t run to the Lake, like the time I won there, but I was able to piece things together on the River.  I fished places I’d never practiced or fished before; I slowly figured out what the fish were doing and where they were going and it helped me get a 20th place finish.  With that solid finish, I tried to continue that drive into the Chesapeake.

The Chesapeake Bay was most likely the event I was most proud of because of the changes I made.  I was chasing big smallies with a mix of largemouth and found the right quality (3.5-4.5 lbs), the problem was I just couldn’t put them in the boat.  I had some technical malfunctions and lost a few.  I had to make some big adjustments everyday but was able to climb into the standings each day, ultimately scratching out another top twenty finish.

From there, we headed to the last regular season event at St. Clair.  That place was awesome.  I found some fish in practice, but nothing that I felt solid about.  I was not happy about my practice; in fact, I told my girlfriend that I was worried I was going to screw it up.  I didn’t know where I was in the points, but thought I was somewhere on the bubble.  Day one I had four fish and was close to leaving my area to head in.  I had caught one big fish in practice on a spot I had found three years ago.  I rolled up there and fished the sweet spot.  James Elam was up above fishing near it, but not on the same spot.  I caught four more fish and weighed in twenty three pounds with a good one that weighed a little over six pounds.  That got me started.

We worked together in that area and shared it well.  By the last day the current had changed and they were moving.  They are major roamers in that area and drift around with the current, with the wind direction changing, it had the bait and the fish doing the same.  Although I would’ve loved to win, I wasn’t disappointed.  I ended up doing a lot better than expected in the event and in the points. 

Going into the Angler of the Year Championship at Sturgeon Bay, I was sitting in 13th place.  I was truly shocked.  I figured that I only needed to catch one fish to make the classic, which took a lot of the pressure off.  It was tough.  I would randomly catch a big smallie on a jerkbait or drop shot, but it was tough to pattern.  The final day of practice I scrapped what I was doing and went looking for new stuff and found it.  The first day I had around fourteen pounds.  The second I fished around Zaldain who had about twenty and I had seventeen.  The last day, I gave him that area as he wanted to win.  We ended up actually sharing another area which he won off of.  I finished 10th in the points which is the best I have ever finished.

For me to finish in the top ten against these guys, I’d call it a successful year.  Mix in a few good Opens and that was the icing on the cake.  As a whole it felt good.  I learned about fishing smart and damage control.  You have to know when to go for a win and when to cut your losses.  My goals going into 2016 are to improve on last year, to make better decisions and balance things out.  I’ll be fishing more in 2016: the Southern Opens, Northern Opens, Elite Series, and Major League Fishing.  It’ll be a busy season, but I’m looking forward to it. 

I haven’t been to Grand Lake since the last day of the Classic a couple years ago.  I’m sure it’s changed.  They’ve had record high water the past couple of years and the last I looked it was over full pool now.  Having success there in the past, the hardest thing is going out with an open mind.  I’ll definitely check some old spots in practice, but I will spend a lot of time looking for new water.  Overall, 2016 looks like another diverse schedule.  We are going to a lot of good fisheries at different times of the year then we typically do which should even the playing field.  I prefer to go to places we have no history.  I would love it if we didn’t even know where were going beforehand and just had to show up and fish the tournament with no practice.  I think that would be awesome.  – BP

Home > News > 2015 Tournament Season Recap

Big News for 2016

Posted by admin on January 1, 2016


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Home > News > Big News for 2016