When I think about the future of professional bass fishing, I think about more than just the business framework of the industry or the state of the fishing economy. Those things are important but that’s not all there is. Just as important is the young talent that’s climbing up the ladder. And no angler who’s doing that deserves more of a look than Brandon Palaniuk. He’s a real angler with a real future in front of him.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that when I look at him I see a lot of myself. We both made our mark by winning the Federation Nation Championship on the Red River, and we both fished our first Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. We both finished near the top, too. But my admiration for him goes much deeper than that.
Perhaps most important, Brandon has a serious work ethic. He does his homework before an event. He studies maps, looks at past tournaments and analyzes the lay of the water. Then, he fishes hard. It’s not unusual to see his truck and trailer at the ramp when everyone else is launching. It’ll most likely still be there when everyone else is pulling out for the day. He wants every minute he can get out there.
He’s smart, too. One of the most useful skills an angler can have at our level is the ability to make quick decisions, good decisions that maximize your chances of catching winning weights. He can do that. In fact, he’s ahead of the experience curve in that department. But — and this is really important — he doesn’t let his ego get him in trouble. He realizes he has a lot to learn. He accepts that.
Mixed in with all of that is his business savvy. He’s pretty good with money, budgets and he understands that he needs to work hard to get, and keep, sponsors. He realizes that the sponsor-angler relationship is rooted in solid business principles. Everyone must get something out of the deal. Brandon doesn’t think he’s doing anyone a favor by carry their logo on his shirt or his boat.
He’s one of the guys you should be watching. He’s the positive future of our sport. As long as we have guys like Brandon Palaniuk fishing professionally, we’ll be just fine regardless of what else is going on. That’s why I asked him to speak at our The Bass University this weekend in Shreveport.
He’ll do two PowerPoint presentations as well as hang around and answer questions from our students. In case you want to take advantage of his knowledge and pick his brain a little bit, there are still a few seats left. You can sign up at TheBassUniversity.com or in person at the door, and you can attend one day or both days. The choice is yours.
Next week I’ll give you four picks for this year’s Classic. Two of them will be obvious and two of them will be surprises. You can grade me later.