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B.A.S.S. Reporter's Notebook: Palaniuk Elects To Not Defend Title

The field is set for B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship; Where curiosity got Chris Malone

B.A.S.S. Reporter's Notebook: Palaniuk Elects To Not Defend Title
B.A.S.S. Reporter's Notebook: Palaniuk Elects To Not Defend Title
B.A.S.S. Reporter's Notebook: Palaniuk Elects To Not Defend Title

Palaniuk elects to not defend title: The 2010 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship winner told B.A.S.S. officials late last week that he’s decided to step aside in 2011 and not defend his title.

Brandon Palaniuk, now a Bassmaster Elite Series pro, will attend the Nov. 3-5 event in Monroe, La. But he’s giving up the berth he earned as the defending champ because, he said, what he stands to gain is money, and “fishing the Federation for money was never a part of it.”

“I already have a Classic berth, I already qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series. The only other reason to fish it would be for the money, but the Federation’s not about making money,” he said Monday.

The winner of the championship takes home a fully rigged bass boat worth about $60,000 as well as an Elite Series invitation and a Bassmaster Classic berth.


“When I had to decide if I should go back and defend my title, I started looking at things … and I saw that the only thing I’d get out of fishing the championship again would be a boat, if somehow I won,” Palaniuk said. “And that’s the wrong reason to fish the Federation. It’s never been about making money. It’s always been about things like getting youth into the sport, conservation and trying to qualify for the Elites.”


Palaniuk said he plans to travel to Monroe from his Rathdrum, Idaho, home with his boat in tow. It sports a B.A.S.S. Federation Nation wrap, and Palaniuk hopes it can help promote the event. And, he said, he’ll be on hand to support the Federation Nation in any way he can.

Last year at age 22, Palaniuk was the first Federation Nation champ to exercise the winner’s option to join the Bassmaster Elite Series. He ended his rookie season with a qualification for the 2012 Classic; at 37th place in Elite Series points, he was the last man into the 2012 field. He said he’ll combine the Monroe trip with a few days of scouting the nearby Red River, site of the Feb. 24-26 Classic.

The field is set for B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship: A field of 54 anglers will compete in the Nov. 3-5 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship on the Ouachita River out of Monroe, La.

The field was completed Friday with the addition of Eastern Divisional qualifiers and the angler of the year from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Tony Choe of Fairfax Station, Va. The 54 anglers are from 47 states and six international locations. All earned berths in the annual B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship through a long string of qualifying tournaments.


The anglers will compete within their respective regional divisions for a 2012 Bassmaster Classic entry. The overall winner will receive a fully rigged bass boat and 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series qualification as well as a Classic berth.

Defending champ Brandon Palaniuk has chosen to sit out but will attend (see “Palaniuk elects to not defend title”).

The 2011 field includes:


Central Division

Josh Wray, Omaha, Ark.
Beau Branine, Haysville, Kan.
Jason Pecoraro, Youngsville, La.
Edgar Romero, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Destre DeDeaux, Meadville, Miss.
Daniel Stark, Eldon, Mo.
Pat Klausen, Lincoln, Neb.
Jared Miller, Norman, Okla.
Tom Jessop, Dalhart, Texas

Eastern Division

Tom Reynolds, Lyme, Conn.
George Cooper, Buxton, Maine
Edward Robak, Weymourd, Mass.
John Diaco, Rochester, N.H.
Jamie Hartman, Newport, N.Y.
Craig Denham, Fenlon Falls, Ontario, Canada
Andrew MacColl, Chepachet, R.I.
Skip Sjobeck, Randolph, Vt.

Mid-Atlantic Division

Chris Price, Church Hill, Md.
Paul Gietka, Abingdon, Md.
Rich McCrone III, Cream Ridge, N.J.
Scott Sirakos, Houston, Pa.
Tony Choe, Fairfax Station, Va.
Mike Cumberledge, Virginia Beach, Va.
Chris Morrison, St. Marys, W.Va.
Darren Thornton, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe

Northern Division

Greg Heindselman, Lewiston, Mo.
Matt McCoy, Indianapolis, Ind.
Jesse Reynolds, Muscatine, Iowa
Carlo Alberto-Tenchini, Verona, Italy
Thomas Keifer, Fowlerville, Mich.
Andrew Nitchals, Wilmar, Minn.
Bryan McNeal, Enon, Ohio
Todd Serfoss, Bath, S.D.
Brian Christianson, La Crosse, Wis.

Southern Division

Jamie Horton, Centreville, Ala.
Michael Smith, Laurel Hill, Fla.
Jeff Jones, Marietta, Ga.
Heath Martin, Louisville, Ky.
Stephen Dyer, Mt. Pleasant, N.C.
Justy Varkevisser, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jeff Green, Gaffney, S.C.
Mark Pierce, Clarksville, Tenn.

Western Division

Gerald Kimzey, Willcox, Ariz.
Don Edmonds, Sacramento, Calif.
Ed McCaw, Ignacio, Colo.
Josh Polfer, Nampa, Idaho
Wakebe Takuya, Kanagawakenn, Japan
Curtis Spindler, Missoula, Mont.
Aaron Leon, Henderson, Nev.
Jay Salisbury, Aztec, N.M.
Jim Brinkerhoff, Longview, Wash.
Jared Roos, Paradise, Utah
Aaron Echternkamp, Moses Lake, Wash.
Boyd Golightly, Preston, Idaho

Where curiosity got Chris Malone: Simple curiosity is what motivated Chris Malone of Ironton, Ohio, to join the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open circuit, his first venture into pro-level Bassmaster fishing.

“I have some buddies who are in the Opens, and I’m always ready to fish, so I just jumped in to see what would happen, where it would take me,” he said.

It took him to the top. Going into the Sept. 22-24 season finale on New York’s Oneida Lake, Malone is the Northern Open points leader.

Keeping in character, on Monday he said he’s very curious to see how this week turns out for him. If he finishes in the Top 5 in points, he’ll be offered a spot in the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series.

“I’m totally stoked about that,” he said Monday from his boat on Oneida Lake. Malone’s been on the lake since Friday to put in some extra practice time so he has a good chance at maintaining his No. 1 position.

To step up to the Elite Series is an achievement. To do it after one season warrants bragging rights. But Malone is close to opening a marine dealership to sell Legend Boats and Mercury motors, so an Elite Series career starting in 2012 would be unlikely.

“I have a lot of irons in the fire right now,” he said.

He has never competed on Oneida before. His first look at the lake was last Friday.

“I thought this would be my best tournament (of the three Northern Open events), because it sets up like I like to fish,” he said, “but I’ve been struggling. But we have a chance of rain here. I think that weather will make the fish bite better, at least for what I’m wanting to do. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping.”

Fishing since he was 3 or 4 years old, Malone has made a name for himself in several tournament circuits near his home in Ohio. He also was his state’s points leader in the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers, and the 2006 FLW Series co-angler champion.

Regardless of how his first Bassmaster pro-level season turns out, he’ll never quit fishing. “I had a boat before I had a pickup truck to haul it with,” he said, laughing. “Fishing’s about the only hobby I’ve ever had.

About B.A.S.S.

For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com, ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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