Tourney Patterns

How Brandon Palaniuk caught ’em at Mille Lacs

Brandon Palaniuk won the 2017 Bassmaster Angler of the Year race doing something he likes to do and is good at: dropshotting. Here’s what he did.

> “Going in, my goal was to fish isolated targets…where I could use my Humminbird 360, fish a dropshot and be efficient. That’s one of my favorite ways to fish. I feel like every cast is as efficient as possible — because you’re making a cast with a bait you feel like a fish will eat if he’s there, and you’re making a cast at a target he should be sitting next to, not on some big expansive flat.

> “I was fishing isolated rockpiles, boulders and grass patches, anywhere from 8′ to 22′. It just had to be the right-looking stuff, and depth didn’t really seem to matter. Where I caught the majority of my fish each of the 3 days was a different spot every day.

> “I just had a milk run of places to hit and cycle through. At some point during the day I’d run into a group of fish actively feeding on one of those areas and would catch them.”

Winning bait

> Zoom Super Fluke (purple smoke), 2/0 straight shank hook, 3/8-oz dropshot weight, Alpha Angler DSR rod, Daiwa Exist 2510 reel (ZPI handle), 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown braid, 8-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluoro leader.

Zoom doesn’t currently make the Super Fluke in purple smoke (but does in smoke purple?!) so:

> “That color came about because I’d been throwing purple smoke Z Drops recently, mixing it in with the green weenie color, and when I went to order some more from Zoom I asked if they could pour me some Super Flukes in purple smoke. I had some confidence in that color, and knew last year from Mille Lacs I could catch bigger fish on a minnow-style bait profile. So I was meshing 2 things I had confidence in and putting it to work.

> “[Zoom] said they might have to bring that color back out….

> “I was shaking it. I’d make a cast right up against the target and shake it there in 1 spot, sometimes all the way up to a minute depending on how active the fish were. I had contradicting voices in my head: don’t waste time [shaking it] if they’re not there, but at the same time you can’t fish too fast and pass them up….”


> “My Humminbird 360 and Ultrex [trolling motor] were big, especially when the wind was blowing. I could pull up on those isolated targets, line up with the 360 and know exactly how far away I was, keep the boat off the fish and continue to make repeated specific casts to the target. I could hit Spot Lock, face into the wind and stand there with 2 feet….”

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