BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 46

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fog. He knew he was around other boats, but could not see who was shing in his area. At one time, he heard someone ask “Kevin, what would it mean to win another Classic?” At that point, he knew he was shing near the legendary Kevin VanDam. All of the top nishers staked their claim to their areas and respected each other’s water. Brandon said he was shing any- where between 100 yards away to as close as 25 yards. I asked Brandon what it was like watching tournament leaders Kevin VanDam and Aaron Martens catch- ing sh after sh within sight of him. His response was simple, yet con dent: “See- ing them catch all those big sh just let me know I was in the right area and the sh were still biting.” These words from the young angler showed he was ready to sh with the best and he was not intimi- dated. His poise under pressure and con - dence in his skills showed as he weighed in a heavier bag each day of the Classic. His time in the spotlight was where he showed his true colors and won over fans across the world. On nal Day Three, he was on stage recounting his experience on the water and was quick to thank those who supported him including all of the members of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. The topic of Bryan Kerschal came up in

front of everyone and you could see the emotions start to take over as Brandon be- gan talking about Bryan. During the 1994 Classic, Bryan would blow his lucky sh whistle every time he caught a sh. In his honor, Brandon Palaniuk told the story of the whistle and blew it on stage as the ulti- mate tribute to the rst and only winner of the Bassmaster Classic from the Federa- tion. As expected, the crowd in attendance went wild and a new star was born. Talking to Brandon after the event, he mentioned how he wasn’t doing this for attention, but rather to show his respect for one of the greatest stories in the history of tourna- ment bass shing. The tale of Brandon Palaniuk’s fast track to the top is just beginning as he is destined to have a great future in the sport of bass shing. The success of the Bass- master Classic has not changed him and at heart he is still a weekend angler just trying to make it to the next event. As he b e - gan to prepare for the up- coming 2011 Elite Se- ries, a common story was heard through- out the shing indus- try. It mentioned how Brandon plans to sleep in his truck as much as pos- sible during

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March/April 2011