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.