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Palaniuk lands victory on Santee Cooper

CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. — Championships come down to decisions and execution — two things that Brandon Palaniuk mastered en route to amassing a four-day total of 72 pounds, 2 ounces for a dominant win at the Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes brought to you by the United States Marine Corps.

 Notching his fifth Elite victory — his second in 2020 (the first at Lake Champlain) — Palaniuk earned a top prize of $100,000.

 After leading Day 2, Palaniuk entered Championship Sunday in third place, just 1-3 behind Carl Jocumsen. On Sunday, the pro from Rathdrum, Idaho, added a limit of 22-11 to his previous weights of 21-1, 18-13 and 9-9 to edge Jocumsen.

 “This one is so unexpected,” Palaniuk said. “Every single one I won before, I had a good practice and I knew that I would have a shot at the Top 10 and a shot at the win. This one came out of nowhere.”

 Spending his tournament in Lake Marion, Palaniuk attributed his final-round success to a prelaunch decision to start in the mouth of the Potato Creek area. Having started there on Day 1, he had a feeling the area was ready to reward him again.

 “I was sitting at the dock this morning and something told me to go try it,” Palaniuk said. “With the (warm) weather, the humidity, I felt like I could catch them on topwater, but when I got there, the water was dirty.

 “I couldn’t get them to eat it, so I just picked up a 1/2-ounce bladed jig with a 4-inch white X-Zone Swammer. I had not caught a fish on this all week and I caught a 4-pounder and a 3 1/4-pounder.”

 Palaniuk caught a lucky break that he exploited when he saw a big fish blow up just out of casting range. Idling toward the commotion, he spotted a brushpile he had not found earlier in the week.

 “I tied up a drop shot and caught a giant (7-12) on 10-pound test,” Palaniuk said. “I caught my other limit fish on the drop shot, but I ended up culling them out later.”

 Palaniuk’s drop-shot rig comprised a green pumpkin blue flake X-Zone Deception Worm rigged on a No. 1 VMC Finesse Neko Hook with a 1/4-ounce VMC teardrop weight.

 Later in the day, Palaniuk returned to the Jack’s Creek area, which produced several of his fish this week. There, he caught two of his keepers by punching a black/blue laminate X-Zone Muscle Back Finesse Craw on a 3/0 VMC Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook with a 1 1/4-ounce tungsten weight.

 “I think it came down to versatility; that’s why I was able to have the kind of day I had,” Palaniuk said. “Without that big one on the drop shot, without those two I caught this morning, I wouldn’t have been able to win.”

 Palaniuk overcame a Day 1 penalty of 2 pounds, 4 ounces for inadvertently making a cast with six fish — one more than his legal limit — in his livewell. Palaniuk self-reported the infraction.

 “It went through my head about 47 times in the last hour (before weigh-ins),” Palaniuk said. “I kept thinking, ‘If somebody beats me, let it be (more than the penalty weight).’

 “One of the things I say a lot is, ‘Control the controllables.’ When I do something like that, it bothers me because it’s something I can control and I knew this event was going to be so tough that 2 pounds is not something you want to be giving up.”

2020 Tournament of Champions

Day 1 Results

Day 2 Results

2020 TOC Club Results

TOC Charity

Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation and TOC sponsoring club Fat Belly Bassmasters have selected The Homeless and Wounded Warriors of MN for this year's TOC fundraising charity. Help us raise money for our veterans in need. Any Gofundme donation will help make an impact and is tax deductible.
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Rapala signs Elite rookie Downey to pro team

Industry News Industry News

When he was 10, Bob Downey caught his first “giant” bass on a Rapala lure. That’ll happen a lot more in the future, as Rapala recently signed the Bassmaster Elite Series rookie to its Pro Team.

“To be representing and partnering with a company that’s so iconic is pretty neat,” Downey says. “I’m super thankful for the opportunity. I’m really excited to work with the Rapala team.”

Rapala too is enthusiastic about working with Downey.

“He’s a great, humble guy, talented fisherman, loves Rapala baits and looking to make a start fishing professionally,” Rapala field promotions manager Dan Quinn says. “The stars aligned that we could work with him on his first year on the Elite Series.”

Downey qualified for the Elite Series by finishing fifth in the 2019 Bassmaster Central Open Angler of the Year standings. He qualified for the 2020 Bassmaster Classic by winning a Central Open on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. He learned tournament fishing as a collegiate angler for the University of Iowa. As a pro, he will represent Rapala, VMC and Sufix.

“He built a great reputation over the last few years,” Quinn says. “He’s well respected as a good-quality guy in addition to being a good-quality fisherman. Which is what we always look for to fly the Rapala flags.”

Downey began fishing at such a young age that he doesn’t remember catching his first bass. He’s got a photo of himself showing off a small largemouth he caught at age 2. Growing up in a Minneapolis, Minn., suburb, he fished in the Land of 10,000 Lakes with his parents, grandfather and uncles. In all of their tackleboxes were Rapala baits.

“Rapala, from a very young age, was a well-known brand for me,” Downey recalls. “My first floating Rapala I got from my uncle when I was about 10 years old.”

It was on that Original Floating Rapala that Downey caught his first lunker bass, a 6-pounder.

“And I’ve used Rapala baits ever since,” he says.

Downey’s favorite Rapala baits are DT-6 crankbaits, Shadow Raps and Shadow Rap Deep jerkbaits. He’s a big fan also of the Original Wiggle Wart, an iconic offering from Storm, another Rapala Respected Brand. He anticipates all those baits will be key to success this season on the Elite tour. Other baits he expects will yield key fish include VMC Tokyo Rigs and Neko hooks, Rapala BX Brat crankbaits and Storm Arashi Vibe lipless crankbaits.

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Central Regionals

                                               2019 Central Regionals

Team Minnesota had a good showing at the 2019 Central this past week in Alabama.
To the left are few of the pictures made available.

Congratulations to Kent and Zach, who will move on to the Nationals this fall.

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events (180 days out)

MN B.A.S.S. Nation Tournaments

G-MAN's Advice to Aspiring Competitive Anglers
Wired2Fish Apr 6, 2018

Gerald Swindle has some great advice for anyone looking to break into the professional Bass Fishing Industry.  He shares what he believes are the most important things to focus on in your High School, College and Amateur career. 

The B.A.S.S. High School Nation is helping shape the future of the sport, one high school club at a time. The High School club members enjoy camaraderie and competition, as well as education and conservation programs.

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