he former Canadian Governor-General, John
Buchan, once said, “The charm of fishing is
that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” This
quote does certainly apply to Bassmaster Elite angler
For those who have studied his career and had the
opportunity to see what makes him tick, he is hard-wired
to compete. His mind works like a well-oiled machine
and while he misses the cues that nature affords him
from time to time, he has become efficient at figuring out
what it is that bass want when they challenge his will the
For Palaniuk, such frustration can result from bass
off-put by significant weather changes, falling water, or
fishing pressure that force them to resort to behavior
outside of their norm.
“It would be like if you lived in your house and all of
the sudden and everyone took all of the doors off your
house, and you still had to live there, you’d be a little more
cautious,” Palaniuk said. “Bass are no different.”
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Palaniuk has been a student of the drop shot rig since he was young. It began when at 16-years-old, he and his tournament partner were fishing shaky heads
behind anglers who were flipping laydowns. They realized how many fish they were leaving behind and could easily catch with 8-pound-test.
Soon he began manipulating the drop shot rig similarly. Even though the water temps on his local bodies of water in Idaho were still in the 40’s, most anglers still flipped jigs and tubes around docks.
“Those fish would be really negative and would just be sunning themselves beneath the docks,” he said. “The best way to keep your bait in the strike zone was fishing a drop shot. Sometimes I would sit there and shake my worm for a minute before my line swam off.”
When decay and slime often litter the bottom in the spring and fall, dragging a jig through makes it incredibly difficult for bass to see it. The same is true of any soft bottom; a lure will just disappear.
“That’s why when you’re flipping soft bottoms, the bite will be on the fall or once you start moving it – after it hits bottom – because they can’t find it,” Palaniuk explained. “If you have a drop shot, it’ll fall in front of their face and suspend while the weight holds on the bottom.”
A drop shot can also draw key bites when they bunched up.
“You’re seeing guys fish a drop shot while ledge fishing,” Palaniuk shared. “To get that first bite, when fish are in a negative mood and get the school fired up.”
Photo: Kyle Vandever