Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 08/08/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Waddington, NY -  Idaho’s Brandon Palaniuk brought in a limit of smallmouth weighing 23-9 on the first day of competition at the seventh Elite Series tournament of the 2013 season on the St. Lawrence River out of Waddington, New York.  

Palaniuk will enter Friday with nearly a pound-and-a-half lead over 2nd place finisher, Yusuke Miyazaki, who brought 22-2 to the scales.  Dennis Tietje finished in 3rd place with 21-9, and Kevin VanDam finished in 4th with 21-1.  Ohio’s Charlie Hartley rounded out the top 5 with 20-15. 

In all, 72 anglers broke the 15 pound mark on Thursday, and 95 of the 99 anglers brought a five bass limit to the scales.  As expected, smallmouth dominated the day, as the majority of anglers crossed the stage with a limit of brown fish.  

In the Toyota Angler Of the Year race, TAOY leader Edwin Evers finished the day in 25th place with a limit weighing 18-7.  Entering the tournament with a 44 point lead, Evers lost some ground to Kevin VanDam, who gained 21 points on Evers.  Skeet Reese, who entered the day in 2nd place in the TAOY race, finished in 36th place with 18-1.  

Aaron Martens, who was tied with VanDam for 3rd place in the TAOY standings, also gained some ground on Thursday by bringing in 20-10 to finish the day in 8th place.  

The Five Day One Facts from the St. Lawrence River:  
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (August 8-11)
Location:  St. Lawrence River – Waddington, New York    
Leader/weight:  Brandon Palaniuk (23-9)
50th place weight: (Tie) Alton Jones (17-3), Fred Roumbanis (17-3)
Total weight separating 1st place from 10th place: 3-4

1st Place: Brandon Palaniuk (23-9)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“My goal was to catch 23 pounds today.  I thought that if I could do that, I would put myself in contention to win.  I had caught a little bit bigger (weights) during practice, so I knew that the potential was there and I just had to make it happen.

Brandon PalaniukHow would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“A lot of the guys already know that I’m making a really long run.  It took me almost three hours to get to my first spot today, so I ended up with about two hours of fishing.  I knew where I was going, and I caught two 3 ½ pounders on my first two casts.  I ended up culling both of those fish out within the first hour. 

“I’d say that I probably made around 200 casts today.  When you’re talking about two hours of fishing time, it really cuts down on the number of casts that you can make during the day.”

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“Rolling up and catching one on my fist cast was key.  That gave me the confidence that I was going to be able to catch them today and I knew that the fish hadn’t gone far. I was really thinking, ‘Are they going to be there, and can I get there and back in eight hours.’ 

“I timed the run out yesterday (during practice), and the waves were bigger then. I pretty much just ran out there yesterday and didn’t hardly practice at all.  I have to fuel up twice, so I had to know where I was going to fuel up and where I was going to run.”

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“It’s definitely the longest run that I’ve made during a tournament.  I’ve made some long runs, but when you’re talking about 193 miles of lake (Ontario), it can get big quick. It doesn’t take very much wind to make it big.  I ran a total of over 200 miles today. There were six footers (waves) out there today.” 

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“This is the only thing that I’ve got and I have no choice but to win.  I’m going again tomorrow regardless because I want to win and make the Classic.  I lost a couple fish today, but I don’t know if they would have helped.  These fish go straight from the bottom all the way to the top in half a second.  They just jump off sometimes because their mouths are so hard that you don’t get a good hook in them.” 

2nd Place: Yusuke Miyazaki (22-2)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“I was hoping to catch between 18 to 20 pounds.  I had probably 19 or 20 pounds on the first day of practice, 14 pounds on the second day of practice, and 18 or 19 on the final day of practice.  I was hoping to catch somewhere around that same weight today.”

How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“I didn’t go as far as the lake, but I ran pretty far – far enough.  I struggled this morning, but I started culling little by little.  In the last 40 minutes, I made three culls that really helped.  Before those culled, I had around 18 or 19 pounds, so I culled up over three pounds.
Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“I caught fish all day long, but my second and third stops of the day were really important.  I really settled down after I caught a good limit this morning, and then I just kept concentration on catching a big fish and staying in big fish areas.” 

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“The River is so big that it’s hard to cover everywhere.  I just concentrated on one little area during my practice time and found a good school of fish.  I decided to stay with that school.  This is my first time here, but I drove around for two or three days before the off limits.”

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“I missed a couple fish today, but I don’t know if they would have helped.  There were a lot of fish today that were right about the same size.” 

3rd Place: Dennis Tietje (21-9)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“I thought that I could get around 17 or 18 pounds if I could get my big fish in the boat." 

How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“I threw back my third (small) keeper of the morning and my marshal thought that I was crazy, but I knew that it would be alright.  After I had five keepers, I went straight to my big fish and stayed on them the rest of the day.  I caught one big one about every hour-and-a-half, so it was a lot of work.

“I had quite a bit of trouble landing these big smallmouth during practice.  I made a few adjustments with my tackle last night, and I never lost a fish today.  I actually practiced landing fish during practice.  These fish are so acrobatic that they kept jumping and coming off.  I changed hooks and it made all the difference in the world.” 

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“My last fish was key.  I asked for a five pounder, and right after that I caught a 5-1.”
What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“The challenging part was just staying calm and focusing on where I needed to be and where I had caught fish during practice.  This current is brutal, and it’s so easy to get moved off your mark.  I really had to focus on making sure I was sitting where I needed to be."

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“I put everything in the boat today, including one that came off right at the boat.  I was reaching for the fish and it just came off and kept floating there.  I reached down and scooped it in the boat, so the good Lord was watching.” 

4th Place: Kevin VanDam (21-1)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“Through practice, it was very random to catch big ones, but I had been catching some.  I basically stayed out all day during practice from dawn until dark.  I was really torn on where to go today.  I wanted to make a super long run, but it wasn’t the right call with the position that I’m in for the Angler Of the Year.  I thought that if I had a really good day I could have 20 pounds where I was at.  I guess that I just grossly under judged the size of the fish that were where I decided to fish.” 

How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“I caught a good many fish and I didn’t lose any fish that I saw.  I guess I just didn’t pay much attention to (the fish) today, so I didn’t realize what they weighed.  It’s a great fishery and there are a lot of fish of that class out there.  I never caught any largemouth today, and I’m strictly targeting smallmouth.  If you look at the sheer number of smallmouth here and how fat they are, it’s hard to fish for anything else."

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“Today, I saw a fish on my graph, dropped my drop shot down to it, and as soon as I picked up the fish was there and I set the hook.  The fish had swallowed my drop shot weight and the line had come out of his gill and hung on the spine on his back.  I fought him all the way up and landed the fish.” 

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“Overall, I didn’t have a great practice numbers wise but I saw some quality.  I was really surprised today how much my fish ended up weighing.” 

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“I didn’t gamble today and go to the biggest fish that I’d found.  Where I’m at in the points, it’s far enough away that I could have easily screwed up and not done very well.  I guess it worked out today." 

5th Place (Tie): Charlie Hartley (20-15)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“20 pounds.  I thought that I could catch 20 pounds, so that was my mark based on practice.”

How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“It was a really neat day today, because today is my birthday and I usually have a good day on the water when it’s my birthday.  My first three drops this morning, I put three fish in the livewell.  They were all 3 ½ pounders, and I think that I ended up culling all those fish out. 

“In the last two hours, I sat down on a spot where I was hoping the fish were holding, and I ended up culling four times in the last two hours.” 

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“Late in the day, I was going to run back to my starting spot.  I passed a few spots along the way and decided to stop and check them.  The fish were there and I got on a little roll and culled a few times.” 

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“I was surprised that there weren’t fish on some of the waypoints that I had marked and really thought would pay off.  It’s funny how many schools of fish you have to find out there during practice to work during the tournament.”

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“there was some wasted time today, but my new motto is to spend the least amount of time not catching fish.  When I’m not catching them, I make something immediately happen even if it means moving.” 


    1 Brandon Palaniuk      5 23- 9
    2        Yusuke Miyazaki      5 22- 2
    3        Dennis Tietje      5 21- 9
    4        Kevin VanDam      5 21- 1
    5        Charlie Hartley      5 20-15
    5        Randy Howell      5 20-15
    7        Cliff Pirch      5 20-11
    8        Aaron Martens      5 20-10
    9        Jonathon VanDam      5 20- 9
    10        Brian Snowden      5 20- 5
    11        Bradley Roy      5 20- 4
    12        Chad Pipkens      5 20- 4
    13        Kotaro Kiriyama      5 20- 2
    14        David Walker      5 19-10
    15        John Murray      5 19- 9
    15        Gerald Swindle      5 19- 9
    17        Kevin Short      5 19- 8
    18        Josh Bertrand      5 19- 5
    18        Kevin Hawk      5 19- 5
    20        Bobby Lane      5 19- 4
    21        Jeremy Starks      5 18-13
    22        Derek Remitz      5 18-12
    23        Hank Cherry      5 18-10
    24        Michael Iaconelli      5 18- 9
    25        Edwin Evers      5 18- 7
    25        Takahiro Omori      5 18- 7
    25        Bernie Schultz      5 18- 7
    28        J Todd Tucker      5 18- 6
    29        Keith Combs      5 18- 5
    29        Ott DeFoe      5 18- 5
    31        Michael Simonton      5 18- 3
    32        Greg Vinson      5 18- 2
    33        Brandon Card      5 18- 1
    33        Timmy Horton      5 18- 1
    33        Casey Scanlon      5 18- 1
    36        Skeet Reese      5 18- 1
    37        Jason Christie      5 18- 0
    38        Jared Lintner      5 17-15
    39        James Elam      5 17-14
    40        Billy McCaghren      5 17-13
    41        Andy Montgomery      5 17-12
    42        Byron Haseotes      5 17-10
    43        Cliff Prince      5 17- 9
    44        Rick Clunn      5 17- 7
    45        Matt Greenblatt      5 17- 6
    46        Boyd Duckett      5 17- 5
    46        Morizo Shimizu      5 17- 5
    48        Grant Goldbeck      5 17- 4
    49        Alton Jones      5 17- 3
    49        Fred Roumbanis      5 17- 3
    51        Russ Lane      5 17- 1
    52        Cliff Pace      5 17- 0
    53        Kurt Dove      5 16-15
    54        Terry Scroggins      5 16-11
    55        Jason Williamson      5 16-10
    56        John Crews      5 16- 9
    56        Todd Faircloth      5 16- 9
    58        Bill Lowen      5 16- 9
    59        Tommy Biffle      5 16- 7
    59        Scott Rook      5 16- 7
    61        Davy Hite      5 16- 6
    62        Brent Chapman      5 16- 5
    63        Britt Myers      5 16- 3
    64        Stephen Browning      5 16- 2
    65        Mark Davis      5 15-15
    66        Mike McClelland      5 15-14
    67        Paul Elias      5 15-12
    68        Greg Hackney      5 15-10
    69        Jeff Kriet      5 15- 8
    70        David Smith      5 15- 4
    71        Rick Morris      5 15- 3
    71        Nate Wellman      5 15- 3
    73        Shaw E Grigsby      5 14-14
    74        Chris Lane      5 14-13
    75        Stephen Kennedy      5 14-12
    76        Gary Klein      5 14-10
    77        Jamie Horton      5 14- 8
    78        Dean Rojas      5 14- 4
    79        Ish Monroe      5 14- 3
    79        Chris Zaldain      5 14- 3
    81        Fletcher Shryock      5 13-13
    82        Zell Rowland      5 13-11
    83        Matthew Herren      5 13- 9
    83        Pete Ponds      5 13- 9
    85        Marty Robinson      5 13- 7
    86        Kevin Ledoux      5 13- 4
    87        Cliff Crochet      5 13- 3
    88        Kelly Jordon      5 12-12
    89        Jared Miller      5 12-10
    90        James Niggemeyer      5 12- 6
    91        Matt Reed      5 12- 5
    92        Casey Ashley      5 12- 3
    93        Kenyon Hill      5 10-15
    94        Kelley Jaye      5 10- 3
    95        Jason Quinn      5 10- 1
    96        Jami Fralick      4 9- 7
    97        Chip Porche      1 1-14
    98        Scott Ashmore      1 1- 5
    99        Keith Poche