COLUMBIA, S.C. – Abu Garcia® pro Brandon Palaniuk collected $100,000 for his B.A.S.S. Elite victory on the St. Lawrence River this past weekend, but it was the key to a Bassmaster Classic berth that Palaniuk valued the most.
The 25-year old from Rathdrum, Idaho, led wire-to-wire while winning his second Elite tournament of his short career, the first win being last year on Bull Shoals Lake. His return to the Classic will mark the third time in three years, having qualified the first time through the B.A.S.S. Federation ranks.
To win, Palaniuk shot right through the river on to Lake Ontario with its huge smallmouth as the goal. With the long runs, he knew he would have three hours of fishing at best each day. “I made the decision Sunday night, before practice started, to run to the lake,” remarked Palaniuk. “It was a risk as I had to quit fishing every day by noon to make it back to weigh-in. That did not leave a lot of fishing time.”
A key to Palaniuk’s secret of success was the use of a size 20 Abu Garcia Revo Premier spinning reel. “I downsized not only my bait but also my reel,” said Palaniuk. “Fishing the deep points required great awareness of bites. The balance and sensitivity of the smaller reel was critical. A larger reel would have upset the feel in this particular situation.”
Palaniuk spooled his spinning reel with 8-pound Berkley Fireline with a 6-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader. The bait was the Berkley PowerBait Twitchtail. “My whole presentation was extremely light and subtle, especially with finding my fish at 20- to 35-feet deep. Bigger baits just were not working.”