Fishing regulations in Minnesota do not allow for the culling of a limit of fish. If you are fishing inside the state boundaries you are not allowed to replace any fish already in your live well. Palaniuk only culled one time during that day’s competition. He just happened to be in Minnesota when he did it. Palaniuk did not realize he was in Minnesota waters.
It was a few hours after the weigh-in when the tournament director notified Palaniuk someone had filed a formal complaint about the culling error. He was surprised about the violation and stated he didn’t even realize he was inside Minnesota. After meeting with the director and determining the location of the cull, it was concluded Palaniuk was inside the state border by about 100 yards.
Before the DQ, Palaniuk was in the lead by more than six pounds over the second place angler. The DQ dropped him well behind the top 50 anglers with no chance to fish on day three. The mishap probably cost Palaniuk $100,000 and a slot in the Bassmaster Classic in February.
The 25- year-old angler showed the world he was a true professional in the way he handled the DQ penalty. It was a hard pill to swallow for the young pro but he learned from the experience. Palaniuk did not try to deny the fact he culled in wrong waters. He didn’t hide or try to blame someone else. He accepted the fact he broke a rule, although unintentionally.
The area Palaniuk was fishing had the state line wavering back and forth along the river. On one side you’re in Wisconsin and the other side is Minnesota. Even with a GPS it would have been difficult to determine which state was which. Throw in the pressure of competition and the normal culling process it is easy to see how the error occurred.
Some may argue the ruling was not fair to Palaniuk. But, what about to other competitors that chose not to fish the no-cull waters? Before every tournament the rules and off-limits areas are covered in a meeting all anglers and marshals are required to attend. It was an unfortunate event.
Rules are rules and must be complied with. The enforcement of the rules maintains the integrity of the sport. Also, anglers become more aware of their actions to understand the regulations and the consequences for breaking one.
The sting will be with Palaniuk for a while. But in the long run he is a stronger angler and competitor. And the sport of professional bass fishing maintains its reputation. Few other professional athletes and fewer pro sports can say the same.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com