We all pay attention when there are open disputes on the water, and rightfully so, but if we’re going to do that we also need to report on situations where anglers make the right decisions. It’s less sexy, less controversial, and might not generate as many clicks, but it’s important to present both sides of the coin.
As an example of the right way to do this, BassFan’s John Johnson wrote a great piece last week about how professional and forthcoming Skeet Reese was in the aftermath of his uncharacteristic blank on Day One of the Classic.
I too saw an example of pure class on the water, and while it might not deserve a full article anywhere, I’m loathe to let it be forgotten.
Brandon Palaniuk started the Classic on a large, shallow flat in the back of one of Hartwell’s major tributaries. We saw him there on Day One, and again late on Day Two, so he had every right to fish it.
The only issue?
Jason Christie, who led after both Day One and Day Two, also spent some time there each day. In fact, when Bassmaster’s Steve Bowman and I went in there on the afternoon of Day Two, Christie had gone a fair distance past Palaniuk to fish a key brush pile that BP had planned to hit later. Christie ended up losing a 5 pounder there that day.
Going into Day Three, Palaniuk was in 20th place, over 11 pounds off the lead. He wasn’t mathematically precluded from winning, but with that many sticks between them, Vegas would’ve had the odds against it in the thousands to one.
BP would’ve been completely justified if he’d hit that flat on Day Three. It wasn’t a small place, comprised of hundreds of acres of fishable water. We followed Christie there at two separate times during the day, and the Prodigy was nowhere to be found.
As far as I know, he didn’t mention it onstage or in any interviews, kept it to himself. Bowman, of course, noticed. As we left the Champion’s Toast that evening, we ran into Palaniuk and Steve asked him whether he’d been in there at any point during the day.
“I didn’t even consider it,” Palaniuk said. “Jason was leading.”
The pros know which of their colleagues respect one another’s water. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and it only takes one bad act to undo years of honoring the unwritten rules. Based on what I’ve seen, Palaniuk gets the big picture. He may have fallen two spots as the result of his meager catch on Sunday, but it'll pay off down the road.