Brandon Palaniuk from Rathdrum, Idaho is on one of those rare hot streaks in pro sports most athletes only dream of. He blew away the Bassmaster Elite Series field at the St. Lawrence River event with a 4-day total of 88 pounds 12 ounces and earned a berth to the Bassmaster Classic and a check for $100,000. The Rigid Industries pro never relinquished the lead, even after a Day 2 penalty costing him two pounds. Add together the previous event and his two days of total dominance there prior to a disqualification and Palaniuk has lead, in dominating fashion, the last six days he has fished the Bassmaster Elite Series. Rarely does this collection of some of the best in bass fishing get spanked so resoundingly by one individual over so many consecutive days.
Finishing in second was Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan weighing 81 pounds 4 ounces and in third was Knoxville, Tennessee pro Ott DeFoe with 78 pounds 10 ounces.
Mississippi mistake spurred Palaniuk on.
"This is all crazy right now," said Palaniuk. "I had a fire lit under me after what happened on the Mississippi. It was a tough pill to swallow. My goal every year is to not miss the Classic. I sure cut it close this year. One year I've got to get there with points and not put so much stress on myself."
Practice made perfect for Palaniuk.
"My success goes back to my hotel room on Sunday," said Palaniuk. "I had 7 or 8 maps of the area spread out in my room. I literally grabbed the map that I thought had the best looking spot.
"I went to the area for practice. It took two hours by truck. I did so good there I stayed overnight in the area and practiced there again. On Wednesday I came back to Waddington and ran out there. There were 8-foot waves at the mouth. I could still make it to the area and back. I knew I would be okay during the tournament because Wednesday was the worst day of weather forecast for the week."
G. Loomis pro VanDam satisfied with results.
"I feel good," said VanDam. Anytime you can average 20 pounds of smallies per day, it is pretty good. I used Strike King Lures on a drop shot rig and a tube in about 30 feet of water.
"I fished in the river knowing that fishing in the lake may have cost me if the weather turned. I also knew there were big fish in the river. With where I was in the point standings, I fished where I did because I wanted to make the Classic."
"I have been having a lot of fun here," said DeFoe. "I fished a drop shot all week. All the fish I weighed came off a drop shot. I used a 3-inch Gulp fry in green pumpkin. I used a 7'6" Fenwick spinning rod to really get the hook into the fish."