NEW ORLEANS — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum finished fourth in the Bassmaster Classic after the final weigh-in Sunday for the three-day “super bowl” of bass fishing.
Palaniuk, 23, was the youngest of the 50 anglers to qualify for the competition. He also was the only angler from the West.
Defending champ Kevin VanDam of Michigan won his fourth Bassmaster title and the first-place prize of $500,000 by weighing in 15 fish over the three days totaling a whopping 69 pounds 11 ounces.
Alabama angler Aaron Martens finished second with a total of 59 pounds, followed by another Alabama angler, Derek Remitz with 56 pounds 8 ounces and Palaniuk with 55 pounds 7 ounces.
Martens earned $45,000, Remitz $40,000 and Palaniuk $30,000.
On Sunday Palaniuk caught a big bass weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces. He told the cheering weigh-in crowd, “I had another one that I swear tried to eat this one.”
Palaniuk, who earned his spot in the classic by winning the $60,000 Federation Nation championship prize last fall, was already creating a buzz of interest among angling media during the pre-fishing in the Louisiana Delta before the event.
He reportedly slept in the back of his pickup to save money.
At least 15 family members and friends made the trek to New Orleans, several driving 2,400 miles one way from North Idaho.