Palaniuk's roller coaster season

Palaniuk grappled his way through the ups and (mostly) downs of 2013

Bass, walleye, steelhead, yellow perch, whatever

Palaniuk shows off some icy bass from Haden Lake, Idaho.Palaniuk shows off some icy bass from Haden Lake, Idaho.
That long offseason between the final Elite Series event and the Bassmaster Classic hasn't kept a fishing rod from Palaniuk's hands. You can see all of the photos here. Sure, he's done his homework on the Classic site, Alabama's Lake Guntersville, which went off-limits on Dec. 31. He also stopped in Oklahoma to visit his friend and fellow Elite Series angler Kevin Ledoux, where they caught a nice stringer of bass at Lake Arbuckle one day. But he's also broken ice to catch bass in Idaho, augered through 6 inches of ice (about 20 times — power ice-fishing) at Pothole's Reservoir in Washington to catch yellow perch and walleye, and "sneaky-squirrel-rigged" a Luhr Jensen Hot Lips crankbait to catch steelhead in Idaho's Clearwater River on Christmas day. (The sneaky-squirrel-rig? Well, you'll have to ask Palaniuk. I'm a dead man if I write about it.)

Palaniuk would probably be successful on the walleye tour, if he wanted to be. Lots of days (and nights) over the past few months have been spent chasing state-record-class walleye (or, if you're from the north, "walleyes").

"My biggest was an 18-3 in Washington," Palaniuk said. "It would have broken the state record in almost every other state."

Yep. Washington's record walleye is 19-3. Idaho's is 17-14.

"We don't troll," Palaniuk said. "We've been catching them on giant swimbaits — 7-, 8-, 9-inch swimbaits — at night."

Obviously, Palaniuk loves to fish. There's no better example of that than the semester-ending calculus test Palaniuk was facing during his sophomore year in college.

"I had a (B.A.S.S. Nation) Western Division tournament the same day," Palaniuk recalled. "I tried to take the calculus test early, but the teacher said no. I wasn't going to miss that tournament.

"The teacher said, 'You realize you're throwing away your whole college career for a fishing tournament, don't you?'

"I said, 'Yes, mam.'"

That marked the end of his college days — 1 ½ semesters into a business/marketing degree plan.

Added Palaniuk, "I don't recommend that for others, but it has worked out for me."

Yes, it has, if your heart can withstand a Kingda Ka rollercoaster ride of a season.