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Rookie Sensations – Brandon Palaniuk | Print |  Email
Written by Paul Strege   
Saturday, 19 February 2011 23:58

Walking in the shoes of an Elite Series newcomer…

When the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series tour commences on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida on March 10th, several anglers will realize a lifelong dream of competing on angling’s largest stage when they officially begin their B.A.S.S. careers. As Elite Series newbies, they have many things in common. They have assembled sponsorship teams willing to invest in their potential as future tour anglers, they are preparing for the upcoming season with as much zest and drive as any tour veteran, and lastly, they are competing to secure their future positions on tour. For as much as they have in common, however, they are uniquely different.

The following perspective is that of B.A.S.S. Elite Series rookie, Brandon Palaniuk.

Path to the Elites
For 23 year-old Brandon Palaniuk, the odds of qualifying for the Elite Series could not have been more daunting. He did it through the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, requiring an arduous, step-by-step advancement from the club level.

From successfully competing in club competition, to earning a spot on the Idaho State Team, to making it to the federation championship, and finally securing a tour card by winning the whole thing, the story of Palaniuk’s amazing amateur run could easily fill the pages of a small novel.

“I had been dreaming of fishing the Bassmaster Tour since I was eight years old. So, to get the opportunity to compete at that level is unbelievable. I knew in the back of my mind it would eventually happen, but for it to happen so quick was unexpected.”

Support of a Nation
Palaniuk might be the greatest underdog amongst Elite Series rookies since he has very limited experience outside of Idaho waters.

“I have never been to any of the lakes that we are going to. In fact, I have never been to the state of Florida.”

One steadfast supporter that he has in his corner, however, is the Idaho B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. Palaniuk’s home state federation enthusiastically signed on as a sponsor after he won the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship. The Idaho Federation Nation used a portion of the proceeds gained in the state’s prize boat sale to support Palaniuk’s 2011 tour run.

“Most of my money came from the federation. I ended up selling the certificate for the boat that I won in the federation championship, and the Idaho federation chipped in a bunch of money, too. Idaho’s an federation alliance state, so when I won Nationals, the state won a Triton boat as well. They decided to use some of that money to help me out.”

Palaniuk’s boat and truck will be wrapped with B.A.S.S. Federation Nation branding. The purpose of the wrap is to foster recruitment of new federation anglers.

“We came up with the wrap idea because I will be the first angler to qualify for the Elites through the Federation Nation, and we wanted to bring more guys into it. That is probably what I am most excited about. I am able to show everyone what the federation can do for you at your level, no matter your age or financial situation. Everybody has dreams and the federation helps you reach those.”

In addition to the federation, Palaniuk inked a team deal with Skeeter Boats. The agreement further secured his financial position heading into the Elite Series season.

Preparation / Partnership

To prepare for the season at hand, Palaniuk intends to prepare in a similar manner as he did throughout his federation journey.

“I am going to do as much preparation as I can, looking over maps, researching on the internet, and reading old magazines. I hope to put enough together so that when I get to the lake, I have a plan and can put more time on the water. I am also going to try to limit the preconceived notions about what may be going on with the fish. The only constant in fishing is that things change.”

Initially, Palaniuk will be traveling alone on the tournament trail, camping in the back of his pickup truck. He believes the solidarity will help keep him focused on his main goal for the 2011 season: Rookie of the Year.

Goals / ROY Race

“Rookie of the Year is what I am shooting for. I obviously fish every tournament to win, but when you are fishing against the caliber of fishermen that are on the Elite Series, it is unrealistic to win every one. Looking at all the other anglers that will be in this season’s Rookie of the Year race, it has to be one of the most competitive classes ever. There are five or six former FLW Tour guys and several other talented rookie anglers, so I think it will be an exciting race. If I can pull it off, then I will consider it a successful season.”

In addition, he hopes to garner greater name recognition and earn a spot on the 2012 tour.

Bryan Kerchal

As the reigning Federation Nation Champion, Palaniuk automatically qualified for the Bassmaster Classic in addition to a spot on tour. It should come as no surprise that as a humble, talented, and young federation angler, comparisons have already been made between Palaniuk’s rise to national prominence and Bryan Kerchal’s epic tale.

“One story that I’ve already been reminded of and one that I expect to come up more frequently as the Classic approaches is that of Bryan Kerchal. There are a lot of similarities there that people have brought to my attention – ones that I cannot ignore. That is a super cool thing for me because I am proud to be a federation angler as he was, and to be able to accomplish what he did would be a dream come true. He was the same age that I am when he won the Classic, too. Just little things like that. I am hoping to do well so that I can honor him.”

If Brandon Palaniuk can become the second Federation Nation angler to win the Bassmaster Classic, there is no doubt that he will become an overnight household name. For that reason, Palaniuk is another Rookie Sensation to keep an eye on.

Brandon Palaniuk - Bio
Hometown: Rathdrum, Idaho
Age: 23
Qualification Circuit: B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship
Titles / Honors: 2010 Federation Nation Champion
Career Winnings: $0
Bassmaster Classics: 1 (2011)

Last Updated on Monday, 21 February 2011 05:34

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