DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

THE GRAPPLER GOES BULL-ISTIC

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 04/19/2012

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Bull Shoals, AR - The first morning of competition at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Bull Shoals Lake didn’t look very promising for Idaho’s Brandon Palaniuk.  Entering the tournament mired in 90th place in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year standings after the Florida swing, the 2010 Federation Nation Champion drew the last takeoff number and watched as 98 other Elite Series pros headed to their starting water. 

At the conclusion of the day, Palaniuk was again last, as he was the final angler to cross the stage.   With Alabama’s Matt Herren holding the distinction of being the only angler to break the 20-pound mark (20-13), Palaniuk made a statement by dropping a limit of Bull Shoals largemouth weighing 21-9 to take an early lead of 12-ounces heading into cut day. 

Brandon Palaniuk“Being the last boat out, I was kind of nervous about where I was going to start.  I ran to my first place and there wasn’t anything going on,” said Palaniuk.  “At my second stop, I caught a 3-pounder.  I was still thinking that I might not be doing the right thing, but on my third stop, I caught a 5-11 (which was the Big Bass of the day) and a 5 ½-pounder.  That’s when I knew that I was doing the right thing.”

Covering a lot of water over the course of the day, Palaniuk said he’s mainly just “junk fishing.”  While he was able to get dialed in on Thursday, the young pro said that it’s a sketchy game plan to try and follow on Friday. “It’s kind of a scary deal, but I’m hoping that it holds up,” he admitted. 

With a weather system expected to move into the area Thursday night, dropping temperatures into the 50s on Friday, Palaniuk said that the bite will mostly likely change throughout the remainder of the tournament. “I expect the storm to change things a little bit.  I’ve been pretty calm all week, and that’s important so you can make the right adjustments and not get bull headed and stubborn.” 

On Thursday, Palaniuk said that as the day progressed, he tried to save several areas for Friday.  “There were several instances where I’d pull up, catch one, and then leave,” he said.  “I left a couple areas where I think that I can catch a few more tomorrow.  I fished some long stretches of bank, fished specific stuff, and jumped around.  I probably burned about 40-gallons of gas.  There were some other guys around, but nobody was fishing exactly what I was fishing.” 

While the limit bass that he brought the scales were all pre-spawners, Palaniuk said that he caught a mixture of both pre- and post-spawn fish throughout the day.  “There’s a little bit of both,” he explained. “I think that there are still quite a few fish spawning on this lake.  The water cleared up about a foot and a half from practice.  Unless we get some rain, I’m thinking that it will clear up even more tomorrow.” 

Matt Herren2nd Place: Matt Herren (20-13)
“I had a heck of a day,” said Alabama’s Matt Herren after toting the day’s second heaviest limit to the scales weighing 20-13.  “Like everyone else, I’ve been on a pretty good bite all week during practice, and everything kind of started coming together this morning.”

Keying on one primary area to start the day, Herren said that he was pleasantly surprised with the quality of fish. “The key was how the fish were positioned.  When you practice, you cover so much water that you really don’t have a grasp on what an area can or can’t produce.  I kind of knew that this area had fish in it, but I didn’t go in there until today and pick it apart.

By 11:00, Herren said that he had amassed the majority of his weight and basically “shut it down” for the remainder of the day, looking at several new areas in hopes of expanding his water for Friday and beyond.  “I burned up four fish over 3-pounds and decided to quit because I wasn’t bettering my weight.  I thought that a good bag for me would be between 15- and 17-pounds.  I think that my area is kind of changing in the spawn cycle.”

Like Palaniuk, Herren said that the changing conditions could play a big factor for him tomorrow on Bull Shoals.  “I wish it would stay hot and sunny like it was today with a little wind, but I’ll have to deal with the clouds and wind tomorrow.  I may be fine, I may not be – we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

3rd Place: Cliff Pace (19-10)
After missing the Classic cut in the 2011 season, Mississippi’s Cliff Pace got off to a rough start in 2012 with finishes of 90th and 63rd in Florida.  On Thursday at Bull Shoals, it appears as though Pace took a giant step in getting back on track.  With a 19-10 limit, he finished the day sitting in 3rd Place.

“Today really exceeded my expectations,” he said.  “This deal is all about getting quality bites and not only did I get five good bites, I got two bonus bites.  When you catch two 5-pounders here, you get well really quick.” 

Cliff Pace

Fishing a pattern, Pace said that the key to his success was keeping his head down and covering water. “There were probably a bunch of guys who did the same thing that I did today and probably struggled getting a quality bite,” he said.  “I just happened to get a few of them and was able to get them in.”

Culling through approximately 30 keepers, Pace said that he keyed in on one specific detail that continued to produce quality bites.  “I didn’t fish a lot of new water today, but I think that I could if I could find it,” he explained.  “It’s all about taking the time to go look for it.”

While he’s confident that he has identified a productive pattern, Pace admitted that the bite could very well change as the tournament progresses.  “We’ve got a lot of variables going on right now,” he said.  “The weather is going to change, and there are a lot of things that will get thrown into the mix.  You have to make a lot of decisions on the water, and today I was very blessed and made the right decisions.” 

Tommy Biffle4th Place (Tie): Tommy Biffle (18-2)
Kicking off the morning, Tommy Biffle was so confident that he had found quality fish that he actually threw back the first few keepers that he caught before finally putting a few in the livewell for good measure.  “My marshal thought I was crazy, but I knew that I was going to catch them.  After a while, I started keeping a few,” he explained.  “I just didn’t want to waste time digging out those little keepers and culling them later on.” 

After a stellar practice where he had over 50 bites each day, Biffle said that Thursday on Bull Shoals wasn’t any different.  “On Monday, I jerked on a few fish and then just covered my hook,” he said.  “I’ve got a lot of areas with fish, but you have to weed through a lot of little ones in order to catch a good one.” 

Noted for his prowess as a power fisherman, Biffle said that the lack of water clarity wasn’t that much of an advantage for him.  “I’m not really worried much about the water color.  I’m glad that it has a little bit of color to it, because you can usually come here and see 20-feet deep. Really, I’m not that worried about the water color.”

Even though he spent the majority of his day on two main areas, the veteran pro said that he amassed around 100 waypoints during the two-and-a-half days of official practice.  “I was actually kind of disappointed with my results in some of the spots,” he said.  “I don’t think that the changing weather is going to hurt me that much.  It may slow the bite down, but it could also make it better.  When you’re catching so many fish, I couldn’t see things going south on me.”

4th Place (Tie): Bradley Roy (18-2)
Fresh off a 2nd Place finish in the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Norman, 21-year-old Bradley Roy kept the momentum rolling on Thursday with a limit weighing 18-2 to move into a tie for 4th with veteran Tommy Biffle. 

Unlike Biffle, the first five keepers that Roy caught went directly into the livewell.  “After I caught my limit, I started eliminating a lot of water that I thought held the smaller fish,” he explained.  “I started running stuff where I thought the bigger pre-spawners were holding.  I was able to get two of those fish to bite.”

Bradley Roy

Roy said that on Thursday, he noticed definite feeding times when the bass were more active.  “It seems like they bite really well first thing in the morning and then there’s a little lull before they start back up again,” he explained. “There’s another little lull right before lunch time and right before the weigh-in, they start biting again.”

While the young Kentucky pro identified several productive baits and techniques during practice, he said that he relied on one primary method on Thursday to amass his weight.  “I found one way today that I really like to catch them, so I just stuck with one rod all day.” 

DAY 1 STANDINGS

Place Name Day 1 Total Fish Total Weight
FishWeight
1 Brandon Palaniuk 5 21- 9 5 21- 9
2 Matthew Herren 5 20-13 5 20-13
3 Cliff Pace 5 19-10 5 19-10
4 Tommy Biffle 5 18- 2 5 18- 2
4 Bradley Roy 5 18- 2 5 18- 2
6 Alton Jones 5 17-13 5 17-13
7 Bobby Lane 5 17-11 5 17-11
8 Scott Ashmore 5 17- 6 5 17- 6
8 Rick Clunn 5 17- 6 5 17- 6
10 Jason Quinn 5 17- 5 5 17- 5
10 Clark Reehm 5 17- 5 5 17- 5
12 Bill Lowen 5 17- 3 5 17- 3
13 Travis Manson 5 17- 1 5 17- 1
14 Keith Poche 5 16- 9 5 16- 9
15 Edwin Evers 5 16- 8 5 16- 8
16 Randy Howell 5 16- 7 5 16- 7
16 Michael Iaconelli 5 16- 7 5 16- 7
18 Mark Menendez 5 16- 1 5 16- 1
18 Brian Snowden 5 16- 1 5 16- 1
20 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 15-15 5 15-15
21 Russell Lane 5 15-12 5 15-12
22 Mike McClelland 5 15- 9 5 15- 9
23 Billy McCaghren 5 15- 7 5 15- 7
24 Brent Chapman 5 15- 6 5 15- 6
25 Derek Remitz 5 15- 5 5 15- 5
26 Keith Combs 5 15- 1 5 15- 1
26 Cliff Crochet 5 15- 1 5 15- 1
28 Ishama Monroe 5 14-15 5 14-15
28 Britt Myers 5 14-15 5 14-15
30 Ott DeFoe 5 14-10 5 14-10
31 Kelly Jordon 5 14- 8 5 14- 8
32 Gerald Swindle 5 14- 5 5 14- 5
33 Gary Klein 5 14- 3 5 14- 3
34 Rick Morris 5 14- 2 5 14- 2
34 Matt Reed 5 14- 2 5 14- 2
34 Scott Rook 5 14- 2 5 14- 2
34 Nate Wellman 5 14- 2 5 14- 2
38 J Todd Tucker 5 13-15 5 13-15
39 Russell Parrish 5 13-13 5 13-13
39 David Smith 5 13-13 5 13-13
41 Terry Butcher 5 13-10 5 13-10
41 Aaron Martens 5 13-10 5 13-10
43 Skeet Reese 5 13- 9 5 13- 9
44 Kyle Fox 5 13- 8 5 13- 8
45 Casey Ashley 5 13- 7 5 13- 7
45 David Walker 5 13- 7 5 13- 7
47 Greg Vinson 5 13- 5 5 13- 5
48 Kevin VanDam 5 13- 4 5 13- 4
49 Kevin Ledoux 5 13- 2 5 13- 2
49 Dustin Wilks 5 13- 2 5 13- 2
51 Jami Fralick 5 13- 1 5 13- 1
52 Andy Montgomery 5 13- 0 5 13- 0
52 Zell Rowland 5 13- 0 5 13- 0
54 Brandon Card 5 12-15 5 12-15
54 Todd Faircloth 5 12-15 5 12-15
54 Takahiro Omori 5 12-15 5 12-15
57 Timmy Horton 5 12-15 5 12-15
58 Yusuke Miyazaki 5 12-14 5 12-14
59 John Crews 5 12-13 5 12-13
59 Kevin Short 5 12-13 5 12-13
59 Jonathon VanDam 5 12-13 5 12-13
62 Jeremy Starks 5 12-12 5 12-12
63 Paul Elias 5 12-10 5 12-10
64 Boyd Duckett 5 12- 8 5 12- 8
65 Marty Robinson 5 12- 7 5 12- 7
66 James Niggemeyer 5 12- 6 5 12- 6
67 Denny Brauer 5 12- 5 5 12- 5
67 Dean Rojas 5 12- 5 5 12- 5
69 Greg Hackney 5 12- 4 5 12- 4
70 Mark Davis 5 12- 3 5 12- 3
70 John Murray 5 12- 3 5 12- 3
72 Matt Greenblatt 5 12- 2 5 12- 2
72 Chris Lane 5 12- 2 5 12- 2
74 Jamie Horton 5 12- 1 5 12- 1
74 Jared Lintner 5 12- 1 5 12- 1
74 Byron Velvick 5 12- 1 5 12- 1
74 Jason Williamson 5 12- 1 5 12- 1
78 Pat Golden 5 11-15 5 11-15
78 Terry Scroggins 5 11-15 5 11-15
80 Fred Roumbanis 5 11-14 5 11-14
80 Morizo Shimizu 5 11-14 5 11-14
80 Chris Zaldain 5 11-14 5 11-14
83 Charlie Hartley 5 11-12 5 11-12
84 Shaw E Grigsby 5 11-11 5 11-11
84 Kenyon Hill 5 11-11 5 11-11
86 Pete Ponds 5 11-10 5 11-10
87 Casey Scanlon 5 11- 9 5 11- 9
88 Jeff Kriet 5 11- 7 5 11- 7
89 Michael Simonton 5 11- 2 5 11- 2
90 Davy Hite 5 10-13 5 10-13
91 Bernie Schultz 5 10-11 5 10-11
92 Grant Goldbeck 4 10-11 4 10-11
93 Stephen Browning 5 10- 8 5 10- 8
94 Cliff Prince 5 10- 1 5 10- 1
95 Chad Griffin 5 9- 9 5 9- 9
96 Brent Broderick 5 9- 7 5 9- 7
97 Fletcher Shryock 4 8- 2 4 8- 2
98 Stephen Kennedy 3 6- 3 3 6- 3
99 Jared Miller 3 5-10 3 5-10