Fishing Tips

Palaniuk Fulfills Life-Long Dream with Angler of the Year Title

Posted 10/5/2017

Yamaha Pro Already Motivated to Win Another Title in 2018

As Brandon Palaniuk accepted his first B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year trophy on the weigh-in stand at Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, two thoughts flashed through his mind. First, the Yamaha Pro felt relief that he had at last won the coveted title after holding the points lead since July; and secondly, that he was already motivated to win the title again.

“As the season began to wind down and the title got closer and closer, the more I wanted it and the harder I fished for it,” explains Palaniuk, who’s been a fulltime Bassmaster® Elite competitor for seven seasons. 
“When the 2017 tournament schedule was announced, I realized the final four events had the potential to be strong smallmouth venues where I thought I could really do well, so all I tried to do was make sure I was in contention for the Angler of the Year title when we began those tournaments, and it just worked out.”
In those final four events, the Hayden, Idaho angler finished 3rd at both the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, 29th at Lake St. Clair, and 20th at Mille Lacs. Palaniuk finished lower than 29th only once during the 10-event season, and he had six top 12 finishes, including a win at Sam Rayburn in May.


“The win at Rayburn was definitely a high point during the season, but my second day on the St. Lawrence in July is really what saved my AOY season ” continues the Yamaha Pro. “After the first day of competition, I was in 72nd place, but the next day I caught 25 pounds of smallmouth and jumped into the top 10. That day, I gambled, and fished 95 miles from the spot I’d fished the day before. 
“It took an hour and 20 minutes to make the run, and in an hour in 30 minutes I had caught the 25 pounds. I added 22 pounds up there the next day, and about 18 pounds the final day to finished third.”
The low point of the season occurred in the second tournament, at Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, where Palaniuk finished in 105th place. Even though he was around fish the entire week, he had trouble getting them into the boat. His line broke. Fish simply came loose. He fell behind the first day and never caught up.
“As bad as that week was,” remembers Palaniuk, “I tried to use the rest of the season to redeem myself. At every event afterward, I compared my finish to what I had done at Okeechobee. To me, my win at Rayburn was a huge confidence booster and just validated that I had been making the right decisions.”
Palaniuk’s motto this season has been “They’re going to be where you find them,” which describes how the Yamaha Pro approaches every lake. In essence, he keeps an open mind and starts practice with no pre-conceived ideas. This allows him to look at any body of water, consider the current conditions, and think more clearly about where the bass may be or where they may move to if conditions change.


“I have had this type of philosophy all my career, and I think it very likely helped me locate and catch fish this season I might not have otherwise caught, especially because we had so much bad weather,” Palaniuk explains. “I like to move around, adapting to the conditions rather than staying in one place.”
It’s a formula that has worked well for the Yamaha Pro, as he’s banked more than $1 million in prize money in only seven years as a pro. He’s just 29, too, so it’s only natural that winning this season’s the B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year title has already motivated him to try to win it again. Y