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Palaniuk Again Leads Elite Series Tournament On St. Lawrence River

 

WADDINGTON, N.Y. — Who or what can stop Brandon Palaniuk?
 
Not wind and 6-foot waves.  Not a daily trip by water of 200-plus miles. Not a 2-pound penalty.  But maybe Jonathon VanDam can.
 
Trailing Palaniuk by less than 4 pounds, VanDam says it’s possible to stop Palaniuk from closing on the tournament at St. Lawrence River, the Aug. 8-11 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament out of Waddington, N.Y.
 
Palaniuk, of course, hopes the tournament turns out his way. And so far, it has been going his way. Despite all the obstacles Palaniuk has encountered, the Elite Series pro from Rathdrum, Idaho, persevered Saturday, not letting go of the lead he’s had since the event began.
 
With a three-day tally of 65 pounds, 7 ounces, the 25-year-old pro secured a margin of 3-12 over VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich. VanDam rose from fifth place into second on Saturday with 61-11 to become Palaniuk’s biggest threat.
 
In third after Saturday was Cliff Pirch of Payson, Ariz., falling from second with 60-8. One ounce behind Pirch was Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., in fourth place at 60-7.
 
Fifth was taken by Kevin Hawk of Guntersville, Ala., who after a banner day leapt from 17th place by boosting his weight to 60-6 — just 1 ounce behind Pipkens.
 
The Top 5 head up the 12 anglers left standing after Saturday’s cut. The dozen finalists will compete Sunday for the tournament’s title, $100,000 and an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
 
Palaniuk took command on the first day by running to the big smallmouth of Lake Ontario more than 100 miles away from Waddington, the takeoff point on the St. Lawrence. To get into the lake, he had to navigate 6-foot waves.
 
The second day, he had to take a 2-pound penalty for having six fish in his livewell. For Saturday’s round, he again ran the river to reach Ontario.
 
All those challenges came on top of the mental weight of a disqualification of his Day 2 weight when he was leading during the previous Elite event in June.
 
And now he’s in front in another Elite event. Boating conditions Saturday were still dicey at times, but better fishing conditions helped him to the 20-9 he brought to the scales.
 
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be today,” he said. “Still, I had to run 15 to 25 mph in the waves. And with the wind switching directions, it was like being in a washing machine out there. The waves came from all directions, and I couldn’t get into a good rhythm with them.”
 
He got a break when he reached his spots after navigating the river and lake for about 2 1/2 hours.
 
“The wind and waves died down and allowed me to concentrate and fish a little bit longer. I had a little over two hours before I had to make the run back,” said Palaniuk, whose fishing time has been short each day.
 
Palaniuk said he had to “bounce around” to relocate the smallmouth.
 
The key to his day, he said, was one of those moves, which brought him to his three largest fish. He boated those within 30 minutes.
 
He said he’s committed to his Ontario spots for Sunday.
 
“Definitely I’m going back,” he said. “It [the wind and waves it creates] is supposed to be better tomorrow. I’ll be running.”
 
VanDam, a smallmouth expert, didn’t hesitate when asked if he could overcome his 3-12 disadvantage.
 
“Definitely,” said VanDam, who chose to go after St. Lawrence River smallmouth. “I’ve caught some big smallmouth here. And you have to take into account the risk he [Palaniuk] is taking in making a 100-mile run. Who knows what can happen? I’m going to go out and catch what I can.”
 
Interestingly, the same JVD-Palaniuk faceoff occurred last season at the Lake Michigan Elite event, another smallmouth fest. VanDam trailed Palaniuk by 3 ounces going into the final day. VanDam won by more than 2 pounds.
 
Saturday’s largest bass was weighed by Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala. His 5-13 smallmouth beat Palaniuk’s 5-12 smallie of Friday to become the newest candidate for the Carhartt Big Bass bonus of $1,000, plus $500 if the angler was wearing Carhartt clothing.
 
With his Saturday bag of 23-14, Kennedy again bested Palaniuk, whose 23-9 bag of Thursday had been the previous largest of the event. Kennedy went to the head of the line for the tournament’s Berkley Heavyweight Award of $500 for the best five-fish limit.
 
Kennedy’s big day propelled him from 46th place into 12th, qualifying him for the final competition day.
 
In the 2013 Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., continues to lead, even after finishing the tournament in 25th place. Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., who qualified for the tournament finals, trails Evers by 32 points. Michigan’s Kevin VanDam (Jonathon’s uncle) is 39 points behind Evers.
 
Like Evers, Kevin fell out of the tournament after ending up Saturday in 14th place,
 
The Aug. 22-25 tournament on Lake St. Clair in Michigan will wrap up the season-long race, and the 2013 AOY will be crowned.
 
Fans are invited to watch the tournament’s 12 finalists take off Sunday at 6:30 a.m. ET at Whittaker Park in Waddington. The weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. ET.
 
2013 Tournament at St Lawrence  8/8-8/11
 
St. Lawrence River, Waddington  NY.
 
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3
 
   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$
 
1.  Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            15  65-07   99     $500.00
 
  Day 1: 5   23-09     Day 2: 5   21-05     Day 3: 5   20-09   
 
2.  Jonathon VanDam        Kalamazoo, MI           15  61-11   98
 
  Day 1: 5   20-09     Day 2: 5   21-08     Day 3: 5   19-10  
 
3.  Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              15  60-08   97
 
  Day 1: 5   20-11     Day 2: 5   22-09     Day 3: 5   17-04  
 
4.  Chad Pipkens           Holt, MI                15  60-07   96
 
  Day 1: 5   20-04     Day 2: 5   21-12     Day 3: 5   18-07  
 
5.  Kevin Hawk             Guntersville, AL        15  60-06   95
 
  Day 1: 5   19-05     Day 2: 5   19-00     Day 3: 5   22-01  
 
6.  John Murray            Phoenix, AZ             15  59-15   94
 
  Day 1: 5   19-09     Day 2: 5   20-07     Day 3: 5   19-15  
 
7.  Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL               15  59-00   93
 
  Day 1: 5   20-10     Day 2: 5   21-08     Day 3: 5   16-14  
 
8.  Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL         15  58-15   92
 
  Day 1: 5   18-07     Day 2: 5   23-05     Day 3: 5   17-03  
 
9.  Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN           15  58-10   91
 
  Day 1: 5   18-05     Day 2: 5   23-05     Day 3: 5   17-00  
 
10. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ             15  58-08   90
 
  Day 1: 5   19-05     Day 2: 5   18-13     Day 3: 5   20-06  
 
11. Gerald Swindle         Warrior, AL             15  58-08   89
 
  Day 1: 5   19-09     Day 2: 5   19-13     Day 3: 5   19-02  
 
12. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL              15  58-04   88
 
  Day 1: 5   14-12     Day 2: 5   19-10     Day 3: 5   23-14  
 
13. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK           15  58-03   87  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-00     Day 2: 5   19-15     Day 3: 5   20-04  
 
14. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI           15  57-14   86  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   21-01     Day 2: 5   21-09     Day 3: 5   15-04  
 
15. Dennis Tietje          Roanoke, LA             15  57-07   85  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   21-09     Day 2: 5   18-00     Day 3: 5   17-14  
 
16. Chris Zaldain          San Jose, CA            15  57-05   84  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   14-03     Day 2: 5   19-15     Day 3: 5   23-03  
 
17. Casey Scanlon          Shawnee Mission, KS     15  57-05   83  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-01     Day 2: 5   21-06     Day 3: 5   17-14  
 
18. Bobby Lane             Lakeland, FL            15  57-03   82  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   19-04     Day 2: 5   19-07     Day 3: 5   18-08  
 
19. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX              15  57-02   81  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   22-02     Day 2: 5   16-14     Day 3: 5   18-02  
 
20. Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR           15  56-13   80  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   15-15     Day 2: 5   22-11     Day 3: 5   18-03  
 
21. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL            15  56-06   79  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-02     Day 2: 5   19-07     Day 3: 5   18-13  
 
22. Andy Montgomery        Blacksburg, SC          15  56-03   78  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-12     Day 2: 5   18-03     Day 3: 5   20-04  
 
23. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          15  56-03   77  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-05     Day 2: 5   19-12     Day 3: 5   18-02  
 
24. Morizo Shimizu         Osaka JAPAN             15  55-03   76  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-05     Day 2: 5   18-13     Day 3: 5   19-01  
 
25. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK              15  55-01   75  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-07     Day 2: 5   18-10     Day 3: 5   18-00  
 
26. Mike McClelland        Bella Vista, AR         15  54-14   74  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   15-14     Day 2: 5   20-08     Day 3: 5   18-08  
 
27. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS        15  54-11   73  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-05     Day 2: 5   18-01     Day 3: 5   20-05  
 
28. Derek Remitz           Grant, AL               15  54-10   72  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-12     Day 2: 5   20-03     Day 3: 5   15-11  
 
29. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS               15  54-04   71  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-00     Day 2: 5   18-08     Day 3: 5   18-12  
 
30. Kotaro Kiriyama        Moody, AL               15  54-03   70  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   20-02     Day 2: 5   14-12     Day 3: 5   19-05  
 
31. Hank Cherry            Maiden, NC              15  53-12   69  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-10     Day 2: 5   18-07     Day 3: 5   16-11  
 
32. Jared Lintner          Arroyo Grande, CA       15  53-12   68  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-15     Day 2: 5   18-08     Day 3: 5   17-05  
 
33. Jeremy Starks          Scott Depot, WV         15  53-10   67  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-13     Day 2: 5   18-09     Day 3: 5   16-04  
 
34. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          15  53-09   66  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-09     Day 2: 5   19-00     Day 3: 5   18-00  
 
35. Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK             15  53-08   65  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   19-04     Day 3: 5   17-13  
 
36. Davy Hite              Ninety Six, SC          15  53-08   64  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-06     Day 2: 5   17-15     Day 3: 5   19-03  
 
37. Matt Greenblatt        Port St Lucie, FL       15  53-06   63  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-06     Day 2: 5   16-15     Day 3: 5   19-01  
 
38. James Elam             Tulsa, OK               15  52-10   62  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   17-14     Day 2: 5   17-06     Day 3: 5   17-06  
 
39. John Crews             Salem, VA               15  52-09   61  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-09     Day 2: 5   18-07     Day 3: 5   17-09  
 
40. David Walker           Sevierville, TN         15  52-05   60  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   19-10     Day 2: 5   17-15     Day 3: 5   14-12  
 
41. Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR         15  52-05   59  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-02     Day 2: 5   18-10     Day 3: 5   17-09  
 
42. Charlie Hartley        Grove City, OH          15  52-02   58  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   20-15     Day 2: 5   14-08     Day 3: 5   16-11  
 
43. Britt Myers            Lake Wylie, SC          15  51-12   57  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-03     Day 2: 5   18-07     Day 3: 5   17-02  
 
44. Randy Howell           Springville, AL         15  51-07   56  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   20-15     Day 2: 5   14-15     Day 3: 5   15-09  
 
45. Timmy Horton           Muscle Shoals, AL       15  51-00   55  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-01     Day 2: 5   17-03     Day 3: 5   15-12  
 
46. J Todd Tucker          Moultrie, GA            15  50-01   54  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   18-06     Day 2: 5   19-14     Day 3: 5   11-13  
 
47. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY           15  49-00   53  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   20-04     Day 2: 5   15-13     Day 3: 5   12-15  
 
48. Terry Scroggins        San Mateo, FL           15  49-00   52  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-11     Day 2: 5   17-15     Day 3: 5   14-06  
 
49. Scott Rook             Little Rock, AR         15  48-08   51  $10,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   16-07     Day 2: 5   18-09     Day 3: 5   13-08  
 
50. Kevin Short            Mayflower, AR           15  46-02   50   $5,000.00
 
  Day 1: 5   19-08     Day 2: 5   16-10     Day 3: 5   10-00  
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Totals
 
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
 
 1        95       481      1621-05
 
 2        95       482      1640-01
 
 3        50       250       887-11
 
----------------------------------
 
         240      1213      4149-01
 
 

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