Palaniuk runs down title
WADDINGTON, N.Y. – Brandon Palaniuk wanted – needed, in his mind – to find a way into the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, the world championship of bass fishing.
“I don’t care about the money, just give me the Classic berth,” Palaniuk said after he led on the first day of the Aug. 8-11 Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown at St. Lawrence River out of Waddington, N.Y.
The instant qualification that comes with a Bassmaster Elite win was the only unlocked door left to him.
Sunday, the 25-year-old pro from Rathdrum, Idaho, walked right through that door. Palaniuk’s prize included $100,000 as well as the Classic qualification he coveted. The 2014 Classic will be his fourth consecutive appearance.
“It’s been one of my goals since I started (the Elite Series) to never miss a Classic. The Classic is our Super Bowl, so you don’t want to miss it,” he said after his win. “To be able to go out and have a shot at hoisting the Classic trophy is what every kid, every guy out here fishing, dreams of.”
Now a two-time Bassmaster Elite Series champion, Palaniuk won the Showdown wire-to-wire, and by a margin of 7 pounds, 8 ounces. His total weight of 88 pounds, 12 ounces of smallmouth bass bested the 81-4 total produced by Showdown runner-up Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.
A hand’s-down win is Palaniuk’s style. In April 2012, when he took his first Elite trophy, the margin was 11-14. He won that one in wire-to-wire fashion, too.