BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 44


The Fast Track from Idaho to the Classic and Elites


By Tyler Brinks


The Federation’s New Hero: Brandon Palaniuk

March/April 2011

known as the Gem State, is famous for its potatoes and snow-capped peaks perfect for skiing. It’s not exactly a bass sher- man’s paradise, but Idaho may soon be best known in the bass shing world as the home state of Brandon Palaniuk. At just 23 years old, Brandon has become known as a Federation angler who’s given the icons in our sport a rea- son to worry. Yet just a few months ago, you were just as likely to see Brandon on the lake as you were to nd him in the forests of northern Idaho hard at work build- ing logging roads. The job required long hours, hard work, and a blue collar work ethic; all characteristics for anglers of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. He started out early shing for bass in the waters of Lake Couer D’Alene and Hayden Lake, two of the best kept bass shing secrets in the Paci c Northwest. So how did a young kid from Idaho make it all the way to the Bassmaster Classic and Elite Se- ries? The journey was a long one, lled with nights of sleeping in his truck and trips across the country chasing bass. The Bass Federation Nation has long been regarded as one of the most dif - cult paths to reach the Bassmaster Clas- sic. It takes a continuous streak of high nishes and wins just to make the big show. Starting at the state level, anglers must sh Federation Quali ers and do well in order to earn the right to be part of the State Team. Brandon has done this several times and advanced to the next level, the Western Regionals ve times (with both the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and The Bass Federation (which is part of FLW Outdoors). Once an angler reaches the Regionals, the pressure starts. The Federation Regionals are tournaments with a unique spin; anglers are vying to win the tournament, but are also trying to be the best in the state. It’s a tourna- ment within a tournament, and the goal is to do well and also be the best in the state to advance to the Nationals. At the Nationals, anglers must also do well in order to move on, but in order to make it one step further they must be the best in their region. Once again, it takes a com- bination of good nishes and a little luck in order to win the region. The road to the Bassmaster Classic is one that requires awless nishes for over a year, one bad tournament and the road ends. For Bran- don Palaniuk this past season, the road was paved with success.