THE LATEST NEWS

Palaniuk Caps Magical Season With Toyota Bassmaster Angler Of The Year Title

Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, won the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title at Mille Lacs Lake held out of Onamia, Minn., Sunday.

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

ONAMIA, Minn. — As the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series season progressed, Brandon Palaniuk always had a sense that he was in contention for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year crown.

But he never let himself look at the standings. He never even allowed himself to think about the race.

Now, he may never stop thinking about it.

The 29-year-old pro from Hayden, Idaho, caught 62 pounds, 3 ounces of bass to finish in 20th place at this week’s Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota. That allowed him to finish 14 points ahead of Oklahoma pro Jason Christie and secure his first career AOY title.

“I didn’t know if it would ever happen,” said Palaniuk, who topped Christie by a final margin of 902 to 888 in the AOY standings. “This has been a dream of mine since I was 8 years old. I decided 21 years ago that this is what I was going to do.

“I just made up my mind that I wanted to fish for a living — and every decision I’ve made for 21 years has led to this point.”

Hoisting the AOY trophy was the culmination of a phenomenal season that saw Palaniuk record six Top 12 finishes, including a victory on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The only time he finished outside the Top 30 in 10 Elite Series events was a disastrous 105th-place showing in the second event of the year on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.

Palaniuk said he feared that finish might haunt him for the rest of the career — until he worked some late magic during Friday’s second round.

With only six minutes left before check-in, Palaniuk landed a 6-pound Mille Lacs smallmouth that proved to be his biggest fish of the event. He put the bass in his livewell and made it back to the weigh-in with only 40 seconds to spare.

“That’s when I really got the feeling that this was meant to be, and I think that’s why I was so calm today,” Palaniuk said. “When that happened, it gave me a completely different mental outlook on the whole week.

“It was like some light switch went off in my head. I think that’s why I went to bed and woke up this morning feeling like it was going to happen.”

Palaniuk spent the majority of the tournament using a drop-shot rig with a Zoom Super Fluke in the purple smoke color pattern with a 2/0 straight-shank hook and a 3/8-ounce drop-shot weight. He threw the rig on a 6-foot-10 Alpha Angler DSR rod and a Daiwa Exist 2500 reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid and an 8-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.

But afterward, tackle and techniques seemed far secondary to his career accomplishment. The $100,000 he claimed with the AOY title pushed his career earnings past $1 million with B.A.S.S.

“When I first started fishing, I was running heavy equipment, cutting trees down and fishing local tournaments,” he said. “I would stash away as much money as I could during the summer from fishing local club tournaments. Then I just had one incredible year in 2010 when I qualified for the Elites when it seemed like everywhere I went in the country I caught fish.

“That’s when it all started happening for me — and that’s what helped me get here today.”

While most of the attention this week was heaped on the battle between Palaniuk, Christie and eventual third-place finisher Jacob Wheeler, the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race was also decided.

Alabama pro Dustin Connell claimed that title by finishing 24th this week with 60-13. Connell’s closest competition — New York pro Jamie Hartman — had a tough week, finishing in 48th place with 41-7. That allowed Connell to win the ROY race by the thinnest of margins, 765-764.

“I set three goals this year,” Connell said. “I wanted to make the Classic, make the AOY Championship and win Rookie of the Year. Then, I also won a tournament (at Ross Barnett in Mississippi), so this has just been an awesome year.”

Unlike the first three years of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, a trophy and prize money was awarded this year to the angler with the heaviest weight for the week. The title of Toyota Mille Lacs Champion and the $25,000 bonus that came with it went to veteran Texas pro Keith Combs, who bested the field with 72-5.

“I’m a Texas guy, and that means I’m a long way from home up here this week,” Combs said. “So, to get to come up here and jack these big smallmouth with a big bait and a big stick was just an awesome experience for me.” The “big bait” was a 1-ounce Strike King jig in green pumpkin with a Rage Craw trailer in the Alabama craw color, which exactly matched the color of crawfish bass had been spitting up in his livewell.

Combs won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Friday’s second day of competition. He also won the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program.

Each qualifier went home with at least $11,000. Payouts from the $1 million purse were based on the anglers’ final standings in the AOY points race.

The second-highest-placing eligible entrant, James Elam of Tulsa, Okla., received $2,000.

Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., claimed the $1,500 Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award for a 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth he caught during Thursday’s opening round.

Grand Casino Mille Lacs hosted the championship.

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Humminbird, Nitro Boats, Mercury, Minn Kota, Power-Pole, Shell Rotella, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, Huk

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Shimano, Advance Auto Parts, Livingston Lures, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, T-H Marine

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Series presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Palaniuk’s Longtime Loyalty to Toyota Paid Off

The 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title that Brandon Palaniuk won Sunday at Lake Mille Lacs started with a dream when he was an 8-year-old boy growing up in Idaho. Then it caught speed in 2010 when he purchased his first Tundra, and began to cash-in on Toyota Bonus Bucks.

“I was running heavy equipment and cutting down trees for a living to try and save enough money to launch a pro career. And there were times when my buddy and I were down to our last dollars, and thought we’d have to wash dishes on our way back from tournaments to make it home to Idaho.”

“Then in 2010 I won $20,000 as a co-angler, and bought my first Tundra,” Palaniuk remembers vividly. “That year became magical, I won the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship which qualified me for the Elites and the 2011 Classic, and the Toyota Bonus Bucks I won helped give me the money I needed to survive the first year of the Elites.”

At times during his rookie year on the Elite Series – it was just that – “surviving.” He often slept in the back of his Toyota in what he famously termed the “Tundra Suites” to save from paying for a hotel room.

Over the past six years, Brandon’s loyalty to Toyota has continued to pay him Bonus Bucks, and the days of wondering if he might have to wash dishes or cut down trees in the Idaho lumberjack woods have long since faded in the rearview mirror.

His brand new title of 2017 AOY Champion pays him $100,000, and his continued participation in the Bonus Bucks program is sure to pay dividends for years to come.

However you don’t have to be a full time pro, a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, or even win your local tournament to cash-in on Bonus Bucks. You just have to be a registered participant in any of the dozens of tournaments sanctioned by Bonus Bucks, and be the highest-placing participant.

To learn more and get signed-up, please visit http://www.toyotatrucksbonusbucks.com/ or phone (918) 742-6424, and ask for Jessica or Kendell and they can also help you get signed-up.

Last-Minute Big Fish Helps Palaniuk Hold On To Lead In AOY Race At Mille Lacs

With one day of competition left in the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship held on Mille Lacs Lake out of Onamia, Minn., Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, holds on to first place in AOY points

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

ONAMIA, Minn. — After two days of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, Brandon Palaniuk is still clinging to his lead in the race for the AOY season title.

But it’s been anything but easy.

The noted smallmouth specialist from Hayden, Idaho, caught just 10 smallies from Mille Lacs Lake Friday — and if hadn’t been for a 6-pounder that bit extremely late, he might have actually fallen out of the AOY lead.

“I just struggled to get bit,” Palaniuk said. “I was just catching one here, one there — and I wasn’t really catching any big ones. But then at 3:14 (p.m.), I made one final drop and caught a 6-pounder.”

That fish helped Palaniuk weigh in 21 pounds 1 ounce, which was good for 20th place in the daily standings and enough to keep him in the AOY lead. With 902 total points, Palaniuk leads Jason Christie (890) and Jacob Wheeler (885) by margins that can still be made up if things go wild in the final round.

Palaniuk’s big fish came so late Friday that he barely made it back to the check-in on time.

“I caught the fish at 3:14, check-in was 3:20 and I was 3 miles away,” Palaniuk said. “On top of that, I still had to cull.

“I ended up making it back with 40 seconds to spare. But that fish was a 3-pound cull. Without it, who knows where I would be?”

Since Palaniuk came into this event with a 15-point lead in the AOY standings, the ideal situation would have been for him to pile up the weight while his closest competitors — Christie and Wheeler — struggled.

That hasn’t happened.

After catching 20-8 Thursday, Christie caught 22-9 Friday and jumped from 26th place to 17th. That helped him move to within 12 points of Palaniuk in the standings, meaning another fantastic day — coupled with a tough day for Palaniuk — could land Christie his first career AOY title.

Christie said Thursday that he hoped for a weather change that might mess up other people’s patterns — presumably Palaniuk’s and Wheeler’s — and he regretted it today. “I got what I wanted,” he said, “but it just made those fish bite for them.

“Today, at 8 o’clock, I was kind of wishing I hadn’t said that.”

The higher winds and larger waves made it hard for Christie to keep his trolling motor in the water and to see the fish on the Garmin Panoptix unit he relies on. He said most of his bass came out of one school he felt fortunate to find.

“Luckily, I came across one group and I caught 22 pounds in probably 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “The rest of the day, I caught one here and one there, but I never caught a big one.”

While Palaniuk and Christie had it tough, Wheeler said “fun would be an understatement” to describe the day he had on Mille Lacs. The first-year pro from Tennessee caught 24-5 and moved into fourth place in the daily standings.

He still trails Christie by five points and Palaniuk by 17 in the AOY race.

“It was flat-out awesome,” Wheeler said. “It was probably one of the best days of smallmouth fishing I’ve ever had. I probably caught 30-plus smallmouth — and there were a lot of times when I would be disappointed to realize it was ‘just another 4-pounder’ when I set the hook.”

New York angler Jamie Hartman, whose stated goal was to win the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year award when the season began, took the lead in that race by weighing in 23-10 Friday and jumping from 48th to 36th place in the daily standings. That gives him a 776 to 770 lead over Alabamian Dustin Connell in the ROY race.

Texas angler Keith Combs is threatening to run away with the daily standings after landing 24-15 for the second straight day. His two-day mark of 49-14 is more than 2 pounds better than that of second-place angler James Elam (47-4).

Combs stands to win $25,000 if he retains the lead through the end of competition, but the rest of the $1 million purse will go to him and the rest of the field based on their final standings in AOY points.

The full field will fish again Sunday to determine the AOY Championship and the event winner. Takeoff will be at 6:50 a.m. CT from Eddy’s Resort, and the final weigh-in will be held at 3:45 p.m. at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

The field will take a break Saturday for Bassmaster University. Anglers will be conducting seminars and greeting fans near the weigh-in stand at Grand Casino Mille Lacs in conjunction with the Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo. Companies such as Toyota, Huk, Power-Pole and Berkley will be onsite featuring their latest products. Fans will be able to enjoy free boat and motor demo rides from Skeeter, Yamaha, Nitro, Triton and Mercury. There will also be arts and crafts and food vendors and activities for kids.

All venues are free and open to the public. The expo will begin at 11 a.m. CT. For more information and a full list of activities, visit Bassmaster.com/news/attend-toyota-bassmaster-angler-year-championship.

The championship is hosted by Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Huk, Humminbird, Nitro Boats, Mercury, Minn Kota, Power-Pole, Shell Rotella, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: T-H Marine, Shimano, Advance Auto Parts, Livingston Lures, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Series presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

News Categories

News Archives

Calendar of News Posts

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930