|Brandon Palaniuk, B.A.S.S. photo by James Overstreet|
The plan worked and worked exceptionally well. Palaniuk's 88-pound, 12-ounce four-day bag brought him victory with a 7 1/2-pound margin over Jonathan VanDam, who himself finished with 2 1/2 more pounds than anyone else in the field. Palaniuk needed only a solid final day because of the lead he had built through the first three days, but instead he put a huge exclamation point on the win with more than 23 pounds of beautiful Lake Ontario bronze.
Palaniuk caught most of his fish on a drop-shot rig, which he fished off steep points inside two major Lake Ontario bays. His primary bait was a green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow, which he fished on 8-pound-test Fireline Crystal with a 6-pound Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon leader. Terminal tackle included a No. 2 Gamakatsu splitshot/dropshot hook and a 3/8-ounce tungsten dropshot weight.
I commend Brandon Palaniuk for crafting a plan he believed in and persisting, ignoring every voice around that said there were too many things that "could happed." He fully understood all those risks -- especially on the third morning when the winds were the worst -- but he also knew that with the quality of the fishery in so much of the river it would be tough to clearly separate himself from the pack without committing to the giant run for to those larger lake fish. He went for it all and got it and will be fishing in Guntersville in February instead of working the show floor. Well played!