Elite pros mop up in Toyota Bonus Bucks

Ten Bassmaster Elite Series pros so far this season have picked up 14 bonus checks totaling $40,000 through the Toyota Trucks Bonus Bucks program.

The pros were the first- and second-highest finishers of Elite events who were registered Bonus Bucks participants. They own a qualifying Toyota Truck and simply signed up for the program, an online registration process that takes minutes and is free.

Elite rookie Brandon Palaniuk has cashed the biggest check of the season: $7,500 for a better finish (fourth place) in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic than any other Classic competitor eligible for the Bonus Bucks deal. Although it was his first Classic and he had not yet begun the Elite season, Palaniuk was an old hand at Bonus Bucks from his days in B.A.S.S. Federation Nation competitions.

“I bought my Toyota last May, registered for Bonus Bucks, and through the Federation last year, including the Nationals, which got me to the Classic and Elite Series, I won a total of $6,250 in Bonus Bucks in 2010,” Palaniuk said.

The $7,500 Classic bonus changed how he approached his rookie year as an Elite angler.

“It helped me concentrate on fishing and not stress out about finances,” he said. “That was $7,500 I hadn’t planned on, and at the time I was barely scraping by. It was a huge deal to me.”

Double-dipping is perfectly OK in the program, as Edwin Evers and Davy Hite know. Evers collected $3,000 when he won the Power-Pole Citrus Slam, and another $3,000 when he was the runner-up in the Pride of Georgia. Likewise, Hite received $3,000 in Bonus Bucks when he won the Alabama Charge, and $2,500 as the result of his runner-up finish in the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash.

Alton Jones is displaying a knack for winning Toyota bonuses. He has earned three Bonus Bucks awards that totaled $6,000. That’s on top of the $1,000 bonuses he won for each of the four times he led the 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race. So far, that’s a total to Jones in Toyota bonuses of $10,000, with more than half of it from Bonus Bucks.

Other Elite winners so far in 2011: Brent Chapman, $2,500 through the Classic; Stephen Browning, $3,000 in the Elite season opener, the Sunshine Showdown; Bobby Lane, $2,000 after the Alabama Charge; Andy Montgomery, $3,000 from the TroKar Battle on the Bayou; Randy Howell, $2,000 at the Pride of Georgia; and Casey Ashley, $3,000 when he won the most recent Elite event, the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash.

Toyota Trucks offers the Bonus Bucks program to other anglers in other tournament circuits, including the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats, and Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. A full list is online at www.toyotatrucksbonusbucks.com/events.

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