Terry Scroggins working the bank. Just passed Gerald Swindle.
In reading Mark Hicks' on-the-water blog, I'm happy to hear that Brandon Palaniuk has a quality limit. He had a good day yesterday (11-5 for ninth place) and needs nothing short of a win in one of the remaining Elite events (or a Northern Open) if he hopes to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Palaniuk is 97th (out of 100) in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race going into this event. He's had a dismal season so far after a very strong Classic. His start has been so bad that he has almost no chance of qualifying for the Classic without a win. If he hopes to get there without the benefit of "win-and-you're-in," Palaniuk would need to average about a 20th place finish in the remaining Elite events, beginning with this one at West Point.
Before you say, "He can do it!" you should know that averaging a 20th place finish for five straight tournaments at the Elite level is AOY-type stuff. Only one or two anglers a year do it, and Palaniuk has never shown that he's at that level — at least not yet. In fact, he's one of the streakiest competitors in the sport. More often than not, he sandwiches a strong performance between a couple of weak ones.
Last year he pulled it off. He won the Elite event at Bull Shoals and qualified for the Classic. Without that win, he wouldn't have made it.
Palaniuk catches another and culls.
"I gained 10 ounces with that one," he says.
Palaniuk is all smiles and feeling it.
We saw Combs heading out. Not sure if he's leaving this creek. Might be a bad move if he does. The bite is on here.
Jonathon VanDam's No. 2 with a mouthful of baitfish. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Chad Maddox.
We're easing past Dove on the way out of the creek. He says he has caught six, but nothing big.
I look up and see Palaniuk landing a good one. He looks stoked and is talking excitedly to two spectator boats behind him.
Palaniuk tells us the bass will go 3 1/2 pounds. That's a gorilla in this tournament.
Reese has apparently shown the bedding bass every bait he had on his deck. He stops fishing for several minutes to dig out other baits and tie them on.
Reese is back up on the front deck looking statuesque. He looks calm and in no hurry to leave. This could be a good bass.
Reese gives up on the bass. Must not have been that good.
Davy Hite caught a game changing 7-pounder this morning. He carries on fishing methodically hoping for another big one.