Back in June at the Lacrosse, Wis., event, Palaniuk was disqualified on Day Two for a culling violation while fishing in Minnesota waters. The state law does not allow culling of bass. Palaniuk had five fish in his livewell when he culled one. He was over the state line by 100 yards.
At the time Palaniuk had a several pound lead and was on his way to capture the title and a slot in the upcoming Bassmaster Classic. The DQ cost the 25 year-old pro $100,000 and a Classic berth. There was much hype and discussion on the archaic culling rule. But that did nothing to avenge the pain for Palaniuk.
At the St. Lawrence River, Palaniuk took a gamble traveling 107 miles one way to Lake Ontario in search of hefty smallmouth bass. The weather and the fish held out and he was able to win by more than seven pounds. Palaniuk was more excited about the Classic berth that came with the victory than he was with the $100,000 check.
However there was a little ripple once again with a rule violation for Palaniuk. On Day Two, he made a cast with six bass in his livewell and incurred a two pound penalty. In the excitement of catching a huge smallmouth, Palaniuk forget to take out a bass and return to the lake. It could have been a costly mistake since the daily weights for some of the lead anglers were only ounces apart.
On the first day of competition, Palaniuk faced 6-foot high waves on his run to his school of smallies. Using a drop-shot rig with a twitch tail minnow he went wire to wire for the victory.
Alabama pro Aaron Martens finished fifth. But, more importantly, he gained valuable Angler-of-the-Year points on leader Edwin Evers. Martens is now only 30 points behind Evers in the AOY race with one event remaining.
Switching over to the FLW side, the Championship or Cup is this week on the Red River in Bossier City, La. In a word, this event will be hot, as in the weather. In practice some pros are finding water temperatures in the 90’s. Yes, that is correct, that is the water temperature.
Early estimates indicate an angler that can average 12 pounds a day should be taking home the Cup and $500,000. That would definitely pay for some air-conditioning. The Red offers many shallow flats and a river system with locks. Expect some of the anglers to lock down to some lower pools in search for above average keepers.
At this point it could be any angler’s tournament to win. These are top pros and you can bet someone is going to find the fish.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com