Brandon Palaniuk's success on the Elite Series, which includes the 2017 Angler of the Year title, has been highlighted by top finishes on deep, clear reservoirs or rivers. But in his first tournament on the Arkansas River at Muskogee, he's having success here too. Palaniuk was 44th on Day 1 and made the top 12 in 10th place with a 13-pound, 8-ounce limit yesterday.
"Even though I get coined as an offshore guy, I actually enjoy shallow water," Palaniuk said. "You can juke and jive. It's junk fishing."
Palaniuk, who lives in Rathdrum, Idaho, found a sweet spot at the lower end of Kerr Lake yesterday. It has allowed him to put an 11-pound limit in the boat this morning and moved him up the leaderboard. He began the day 5-6 behind leader Dale Hightower. So he's got a lot of ground to makeup and the shortest day to do it, since he has to lock back up to Muskogee.
"The place I caught them (Friday) afternoon was pretty special," Palaniuk said. "There is so much bait there. I just kept going back and forth, and I'd catch 'em every time. And I'd cull. They were good ones."
The bait he mentioned is both tiny threadfin shad and larger threadfins too. He's catching them on a Rapala BX Brat, a two-inch-long square-billed crankbait.
"Ever since they came out with that it has been my go-to river fishing crankbait and for fish that are up shallow anywhere," Palaniuk said. "I've caught them on it really good at Grand Lake, and I made a top 10 on it at the Sabine River a couple of years ago.
"I feel like a lot of guys are concentrating on the grass down in Kerr. I'm concentrating on rock and wood. The cool thing is that BX Brat is balsa, so it's got buoyancy for fishing around shallow cover, and it's got hard plastic around it, so it's tough, durable. You can bang it up against the rocks, and it will hold up.